Amy Winehouse family fights to protect name

 

A month has passed since the death of Amy Winehouse, but the battle to preserve her image and legacy is gaining pace as companies seek to cash in on her name.

Mitch Winehouse, the singer's father, has been forced to return money donated to the drugs charity he is setting up in memory of his daughter because a third party has already registered the name "Amy Winehouse Foundation".

"Somebody else pinched it off us before we could we could get it registered," said Mr Winehouse. "All these donations which are coming in – we don't know what to do with them at the moment."

He announced online that he would return cheques because he did not have a bank account in the name of the foundation to which they were addressed. Mr Winehouse said the individual who had registered the name wanted to sell it in an online auction. "Our solicitors are all over this, but it takes time. Meanwhile we can't get on with the foundation," he said.

As the market becomes flooded with unlicensed Winehouse posters, T-shirts and memorabilia, the singer's family has been forced into a battle to retain control of her "image rights".

A US-based online retailer, Cafepress.com, is hawking a range of unofficial Winehouse gifts, including an "RIP Amy Winehouse" outfit for dogs. "Put your pooch in his own cool doggie RIP Amy Winehouse dog T-shirt from American Apparel," the sales blurb says. "He'll be the envy of all the pups in the park. Let him wear a doggie-cool design so he can express what he'd like to bark out loud."

The retailer is also selling "RIP Winehouse" baby bodysuits, teddy bears and iPod cases, "Rehab is for quitters" hoodies and T-shirts with the Jewish singer's name written in Hebrew. A spokesman for the Winehouse family said: "This is a situation that is being looked into."

Like Marilyn Monroe before her, the distinctive Winehouse look – beehive and kohl-eyed stare – is the perfect canvas for artists to manipulate and sell.

The iconography of Amy has already begun, with a giant portrait of the singer, produced by acclaimed young artist Johan Andersson, unveiled at her local Camden Tube station yesterday.

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