Images of her handmade quilts adorn postage stamps, Visa gift cards and $5,000 rugs, but Annie Mae Young and some of the other quilters who made Gee’s Bend famous say they missed out on what has turned into a giant payday.— Alabama Press Register, Gee’s Bend quilters claim big rip-off
Annie Mae Young is suing William Arnett and others, saying that she never received royalties or any other payment for any of the spin-off merchandising associated with the quilts she made. And the quilts, which have sold for up to $20,000 USD, have been purchased from her for only a few hundred dollars, even after their value on the market went up.
At what point does a “discovered” artist start to become victimized by the same agreement that brought her success in the first place? What legal or moral responsibility does one party to a contract have when the other party is illiterate? Is the contract even enforceable under those circumstances?
This is going to be an interesting lawsuit to watch. The claim is that over $1 million in royalties have gone back to the community of Gee’s Bend — but no one seems to know where it went.