DKNY Donating $25,000 to Bed-Stuy YMCA After Allegedly Stealing Photos

By Paul DeBenedetto on February 25, 2013 3:24pm 

 The DKNY store in Bangkok that photographer Brandon Stanton said used his work without his permission.
The DKNY store in Bangkok that photographer Brandon Stanton said used his work without his permission.
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Facebook/humansofnewyork

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A popular photographer says that DKNY used his work without permission— and now the Bed-Stuy YMCA will benefit from the alleged mistake.

Photographer Brandon Stanton, who runs the popular "Humans of New York" website, says that last year a representative of DKNY approached him and offered $15,000 to purchase 300 photographs to decorate one of the company's stores, according to a post on Stanton's website.

Stanton said he declined the offer after DKNY refused to pay what he thought was a fare rate for the photos.

"A friend in the industry told me that $50 per photo was not nearly enough to receive from a company with hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue," Stanton said in the post. "So I asked for more money. They said 'no.'"

Then a fan of the site sent Stanton a photo from a DKNY store in Bangkok, where his photos were on display without his knowledge, according to the post.

In lieu of payment, Stanton said he'd rather have the store donate to the Bedford-Stuyvesant YMCA. And he's getting his followers on social media to help put pressure on the company.

"I don't want any money," Stanton said on both Tumblr and Facebook. "But please SHARE this post if you think that DKNY should donate $100,000 on my behalf to the YMCA in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn."

As of Monday afternoon, the post has more than 12,000 shares on Tumblr, and more than 30,000 shares on Facebook.

DKNY did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But in a post on the company's Facebook page, the company copped to the mistake, saying the store used "an internal mock up containing some of Mr. Stanton's images."

In return, the company offered a donation of $25,000 to the Bed-Stuy Y, according to the post.

"We apologize for this error and are working to ensure that only the approved artwork is used," the post said. "DKNY has always supported the arts and we deeply regret this mistake."

That YMCA, located at Bedford Avenue and Monroe Street, raised a total of $190,000 in 2012, and aims to raise $200,000 in 2013, said Gary Laermer, the YMCA of Greater New York's Chief Development Officer. Stanton chose it because he's a member, the official said.

The YMCA has already received confirmation from DKNY that they will be donating the money, Laermer said.

"We were pleased that Brandon was advocating for the YMCA and the work that we do, and we're very, very grateful to DKNY for making the gift," Laermer said.

In a followup on his Facebook page, Stanton thanked his fans for their support.

"I know a lot of you would like to have seen the full $100k," Stanton wrote, "but we are going to take them at their word that it was a mistake, and be happy that this one had a happy ending."

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