Turkish cook Nusret Gökçe, also known as "Salt Bae," is the subject of a $5 million lawsuit from a U.S. artist over the unauthorized used of artwork featuring the restaurateur's signature salt-sprinkling pose.
Williams Hicks, a Brooklyn-based artist known for his stenciled paintings and murals, filed the lawsuit against Gökçe in the District Court for the Southern District of New York on April 12.
According to the lawsuit, Hicks and another artist named Joseph Iurato were commissioned in 2017 to design a mural of the Turkish chef in his iconic bicep-bulging, salt-sprinkling pose to be displayed at the steakhouse’s Miami outpost. Additional murals were ordered for Nusr-Et restaurants in New York, Dubai, and Istanbul.
After the original paid commissions, Hicks says in the lawsuit that Gökçe had unauthorized copies of the murals made for restaurants in Turkey, Greece, and the United Arab Emirates without compensating him for further use of his copyrighted design.
The lawsuit says the Turkish cook also put the image on menus, takeout bags, on a line of seasonings and even wet wipes.
The lawsuit further says that Hicks sent a letter to Gökçe in April 2020 demanding that he immediately end any further use of the artwork, but the internationally-famed cook did not comply with this request.
Gökçe has not yet released a statement with regards to the lawsuit.