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The social media act of country-rap star Ryan Upchurch is going to the courtroom. Florida artist Jacob LeVeille has sued the musician in federal court for firing hundreds of bullets from an assault-style rifle through a painting of Upchurch and a portrait of Johnny Cash, one of the performer’s idols.

Upchurch destroyed LeVeille’s original work in violation of the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990, the lawsuit filed in Jacksonville, Florida, says. Federal law protects artists from having their work mutilated or modified in a way that harms their reputations. The musician also wrote an expletive on the paintings about LeVeille.

VARA, as the law is known, states in part that “the author of a work of visual art…shall have the right to prevent any intentional distortion, mutilation, or other modification of that work which would be prejudicial to his or her honor or reputation, and any intentional distortion, mutilation, or modification of that work…”

In addition to not paying for the paintings, Upchurch, a Billboard-charting musician, defamed LeVeille in social media posts, including Instagram where the country rapper and social media star has 1.4 million followers, according to the lawsuit.

LeVeille is an award-winning artist whose portraits of country music stars include Loretta Lynn in her Coal Miner’s Daughter Museum. His work has been exhibited at art galleries. A lifelong fan of country music, he has appeared in an Upchurch video.

Attorney Joel Rothman of SRipLaw represents LeVeille. For details, contact him at joel.rothman@sriplaw.com/561-404-4350 or Hugo H. Ottolenghi of Ottolenghi Media at hugo@ottolenghillc.com/561-818-2946.

LeVeille COMPLAINT for Violation of the Visual Artists Rights Act (Injunctive Relief Demanded) against Ryan E (2019.08.05)

Article Name
SRipLaw client Jacob LeVielle sues county-rap star Ryan Upchurch for shooting up two of his paintings.
Country-rap star Ryan Upchurch is sued in federal court for machine-gunning two paintings created by artist Jacob LeVeille in violation of Visual Artists Rights Act.