Court agrees to halt sales of Frida Kahlo Barbie doll

Barbie's Inspiring Women Doll series includes Amelia Earhart, Frida Kahlo and Katherine Johnson. Photo: Mattel
Barbie dolls in the image of pilot Amelia Earhart, left, Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and mathematician Katherine Johnson, part of the Inspiring Women doll line series being launched ahead of International Women’s Day. Photo: Mattel

Mexico City — One of Frida Kahlo’s heirs has won a temporary injunction that halts sales of a Barbie doll made in the late Mexican artist’s likeness.

Mara de Anda Romeo, Kahlo’s great-niece, took Mattel to court arguing that the toy giant does not have the rights to use Kahlo’s image as part of its Inspiring Women Series, according to The Guardian.

A judge ruled Thursday that Mattel must reach a resolution with her relatives, who say they hold all intellectual property rights connected to Kahlo. Stores in Mexico must also temporarily yank the toy from its shelves.

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Mattel claims it obtained rights to the artist’s image through the Panama-based Frida Kahlo Corp., which is connected to another Kahlo heir. The corporation has sold licenses for commercializing Kahlo’s image since 2005. The company has previously approved a Frida Kahlo tequila, a $250 collectible doll and Kahlo sunglasses.

Backed by wealthy investors, the artist’s niece, Isolda Pinedo Kahlo said the Frida Kahlo Corp. wants to “place the name Frida Kahlo as a brand that expresses and reflects strength, energy, commitment and passion,” according to the firm’s website. Another company executive told EFE news agency that “the products have the same spirit she had: strong and innovative and, above all, Mexican.”

The Frida Kahlo Corp., emailed a statement that declared “it will continue its activities within the framework of respect for the law and in the exercise of its constitutional rights.”

The measure also banned “any act tending to commercialize products that have the brand and image of Frida Kahlo.”

Anda Romeo has argued that the doll does not accurately reflect Kahlo’s trademark characteristics, including her unibrow and Tehuana-style dresses.

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“We will talk to them about the appearance of the doll, its characteristics, the history the doll should have to match what the artist really was,” said her lawyer, Pablo Sangri.

Other women depicted in the series of dolls include aviator Amelia Earhart and NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson.

Ofelia Medina, who portrayed Kahlo in a 1984 Mexican movie, has pointed out that as a communist and outsider, the artist would have shunned the same upscale establishments that now profit from her image.

Kahlo, who died in 1954, remains famous for intimate self -portraits, reflecting her personal experience of pain and isolation.

With information from the Chicago Tribune

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