BOSTON – The Brearley Collection, which runs a shop at Faneuil Hall, is selling photos of “Ted Williams’ First at Bat,” in 1939, that it made from the original negative, which it wrongfully obtained from an auction house that also acquired it wrongfully, Kenneth Chase claims in Federal Court.
Chase claims he bought the negative in April 1992 and copyrighted it in December that year. In 1997, he says, at the request of Ted Williams Family Enterprises, with whom he had a licensing agreement, he sent the negative to Gamma Photo Lab in Chicago. In 2002, he asked for the negative back, and “Both Gamma and Williams claimed to Chase that the negative had disappeared and each blamed the other for its disappearance.”
Chase settled a claim Gamma and Williams in 2004 but never got the negative back. He says he tried to keep selling photos under a licensing deal with The New York Times, using a copy of the negative, but the poor picture quality led to many returns from dissatisfied customers, costing him $14,000 in lost royalties.
During 2004, Chase says, he met the Brearley family, which runs The Brearley Collection, of Reading, Mass., which sells old photos. He says they had a “Ted Williams’ First at Bat” photo made from the original negative, which they had for sale at Faneuil Hall. He says they told him they bought the negative from Josh Evans, president of Leland’s Auction House of Seaford, N.Y., and that they bought it after he had settled his lawsuit with Gamma and Williams.
Chase’s attorney demanded that the Brearleys return the negative. They did not respond. Chase demands the negative, and damages for copyright infringement, unfair trade, and palming off. He is represented by Charles Chase of Dedham. See complaint.