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Last updated 5:25AM ET
February 27, 2021
Gees Bend Quilter Sues for Fraud
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - One of the world-famous Gees Bend quilters is suing an Atlanta family who helped promote the hand-woven crafts claiming she was cheated financially.
The suit also names several corporations that are using the quilts designs in their logos. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Selma by quilter Annie Mae Young. It names as defendants William Arnett, an Atlanta art scholar who brought Gee's Bend quilters to a wide audience, his sons Matt Arnett and Paul Arnett and Tinwood Ventures of Atlanta.
In recent years, the quilts have been featured in museums nationwide and were chosen for the U.S. Postal Service's American Treasures stamp series. Their designs also have been produced on rugs that sell for $5,000 each, Visa gift cards and a line of bedsheets by supermodel Kathy Ireland. Young's attorney says the quilters "haven't gotten anything out of it". The lawsuit seeks a share of profits from the quilts for Young. The lawsuit currently names only Young, but could be expanded to include other quilters in the remote, and still impoverished Gee's Bend community, which is located about 60 miles southwest of Montgomery. Also named in the lawsuit are Kathy Ireland Worldwide, Shaw Living and Visa. The lawsuit says any agreement between the quilters and the defendants was oral and was not put into writing.
A response filed by attorneys for the Arnetts and Tinwood says the lawsuit was filed to "harass" and extort money from the defendants.
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