American retailer Urban Outfitters has removed a rug from its online store after it was accused of ripping off the work of Aboriginal artist Mitjili Napurrula.
This week, users on social media pointed out that Urban Outfitters’ Ollie Reversible Indoor/Outdoor Rug bared an uncanny resemblance to several of Napurrula’s paintings.
Reddit user alisonthemomnster first pointed out the similarity in the subreddit r/AssholeDesign on Thursday, where it received over 40 thousand upvotes.
By Friday, the rug, which sold for up to $239.00 depending on the size, had been removed from the store.
One Twitter user described the rug as “straight up theft”, while many Redditors said they weren’t surprised at all by the situation.
Napurrula was a Pintupi woman from Ikuntji, 200 km west of Alice Springs.
Tree motifs representing the women’s side off her father’s dreaming from Uwiki country were a central feature of her work, and it is these patterns which the Urban Outfitters rug appears to resemble.
Napurrula’s works have been exhibited around Australia and abroad. She passed away last year.
— Anton Schirripa (@schirriant) April 16, 2020
This isn’t the first time Urban Outfitters has been accused of ripping off the work of emerging artists and fashion designers.
In the past, James Soares, Stevie Koerner, Clarity Miller, Sarah Wilton, Johnny Earle, Lee Meszaros and Tyler Macmillan have all claimed to have had their work plagiarised by the company. Artist Signe Pierce has also accused the outlet of copying her work in a window display.
In 2012, the Navajo nation in the US even sued Urban Outfitters after it ignored requests to remove the word “Navajo” form its products.
However, this is perhaps the first time the company has been accused copying the work of a high-profile artist whose work was regularly included in high-profile exhibitions.
Urban Outfitters did not respond to requests for comment.
Image: Glenelg Art Gallery | Urban Outfitters