Hells Angels suing T-shirt website over logo: Logo designer paid $2.50

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THE mysterious artist who designed the iconic logo for the world’s most notorious outlaw motorcycle gang was paid just $2.50 for his work, a court has heard.

During a bitter legal battle over the copyright of the Hells Angels logo in Australia, the Federal Court was told that the late American artist Robert Kestner, who worked under the pseudonym “Sundown” created the design for the club’s membership cards in 1954.

Barrister Robert Cobden SC, who is defending the hipster T-shirt website Redbubble, told the court that the minutes of a meeting of the “Frisco” chapter in 1954 revealed the fee for the design in September 1954.

Mr Codben this morning questioned ageing Californian Hells Angels bikie Phil Torre, who recalled the distinctive skull logo on his club membership card shortly after he joined the club as a “prospect” in 1953.

Mr Torre, from Santa Rosa, said the logo consisted of a skull wearing an aviator helmet inside a set of wings, known as the “Death Head” design.

“Everyone who joined had to have one,” Mr Torre said of the card.

“I got mine in 1954,” he said.

Mr Torre told the court he recalled that Sundown had done “some drawings” for the membership card. Mr Kestner is now dead.

The Browns Plains based Hells Angels Motorcycle Corporation (Australia) — the corporate entity for the club that is outlawed — has sued Redbubble for damages claiming they suffered “hurt feelings, anxiety and anger” after their fearsome logo appeared on T-shirts and a poster.

Hells Angels Australia barrister Dimitrios Eliades said he is seeking damages for hurt because the bikers believe their skull logo is “so valuable” because only club members are allowed to wear it.

Mr Eliades told Judge Andrew Greenwood that he expected the damages for hurt for the (HAMCA) would be “greater” than the estimated $20,000-$30,000 for “lost profits” to the club because the club doesn’t sell merchandise to the public.

The bikie gang was declared a criminal organisation by the Queensland government four years ago.

Their corporate entity, run and owned by exiled bikie boss Mark Nelms, has sued publicly listed website retailer Redbubble for breach of copyright after their logo appeared on three T-shirts and a poster the bikers purchased from the site three years ago.

Redbubble claims only a couple of these T-shirts were sold, and the sales were mostly “trap purchases” by the bikers.

The T-shirts include one with the words “Hells Angels Virginia” and a skull logo, a white T-shirt with a logo described as the “death head” logo and another T-shirt with the words “Hells Angels” and two skull logos.

They are suing over a black-and-white poster of a Hells Angels bikie posing with a young girl.

Redbubble argues they cannot be held liable for reproducing copyrighted works in Australia because their website servers are in the US.

The hearing continues until Friday.

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