Devoted fans of iconic cookbook The Art of French Cooking were no doubt delighted to recently learn they could have a sleepover at Julia Child's Provence vacation house via Airbnb. The late culinarian's charitable foundation was less pleased, however: The Julia Child Foundation is now suing Airbnb for using Child's likeness without permission, reports the Los Angeles Times.
The suit, which Reuters says was filed Tuesday in a California court, claims Airbnb used Child's name and likeness without her permission to promote a recent contest; the giveaway included a one night's stay at the cottage over Memorial Day weekend.
Known as La Pitchoune, Child and her husband Paul built the house in the 1960s and often vacationed there; the house's new owner has transformed it into a yoga and cooking retreat, and recently began renting it out via Airbnb for $600 a night.
As the Times explains, Airbnb sent out an email blast about the contest which stated it was "giving away a free night at the former home of Julia Child in Provence, France," and that the winner would be able to see "the knickknacks in her kitchen exactly as she left them." The problem here is two-fold: One, the foundation had denied Airbnb's request to use Child's name and likeness for said promotion; and two, Child "removed all her cooking equipment, books and pictures on her last visit," so the idea that guests at the cottage would be able to enjoy her kitchen just as she left it is unequivocably false. (In fact, her cooking tools and books are now housed at the Smithsonian along with a replica of the kitchen.)
The Julia Child Foundation is seeking any profits earned from the promotion, as well as additional damages plus legal fees. A spokesperson for Airbnb says the company does not comment on pending litigation.