Man behind Che Guevara portrait wins copyright after four decades

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The Independent Online

The man behind the most famous portrait of the Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara was legally recognised as its owner yesterday, 40 years after he took the picture.

The man behind the most famous portrait of the Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara was legally recognised as its owner yesterday, 40 years after he took the picture.

Alberto Diaz Gutierrez, or Mr Korda, as he is widely known, said the acknowledgement was a wonderful present for his 72nd birthday, which he was celebrating on his first trip to Britain yesterday.

The High Court in London had approved an out-of-court settlement between the Rex Features picture agency, the advertising company Lowe Lintas and Mr Korda.

The question of ownership had arisen when the image was used in a Smirnoff vodka advertisement without permission from Mr Korda.

He said yesterday: "Thanks to the judgment of a British court, I will be able to control the use of this picture. I am categorically against the exploitation of Che's image for the promotion of products such as alcohol or for any purpose that denigrates the reputation of Che." Although the details of the settlement have been kept quiet, Mr Korda insists he did not pursue the case for financial gain.

"Remuneration from the Sale of Permission to reproduce my photographs will be used to provide medicine for children in Cuba," he said. "My life in Cuba, which I love because I love my country, has always been humble even though I could have been a millionaire."

But his supporters would not rule out the possibility of suing other companies for abuse of copyright. Rob Miller, the national co-ordinator of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, said: "It is too early to say."

Mr Korda and his supporters celebrated the news by downing a glass of ice-cold rum. The photographer spoke animatedly about his admiration for Che Guevara.

He said: "My feelings for the life of this man - there is no money in this world that could pay for it. I feel very proud to have had the opportunity of taking this photograph which has become so famous.

"I am and always will be a supporter of the Cuban revolution. In Cuba, Che's legacy lives on. He was an example of the man."

Mr Korda, speaking of Che Guevara's worldwide appeal, added: "Women say he is very beautiful and many photographers, both Cuban and foreign, have got a strong fascination with him."

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