Tom Sachs didn’t bother to get permission from Hello Kitty’s owner, Sanrio, before he installed his enormous Hello Kitty sculptures in front of Lever House. “I think it’s better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission,” he said at the opening party on May 8. “Hello Kitty is so much a part of our popular culture, I don’t think anyone really owns it. It’s something licensed by Sanrio, but I think her spirit and love and purity belong to all of us.” Sanrio’s brand-marketing manager, Dave Marchi, says that the company vigorously pursues makers of Hello Kitty knockoffs. Still, he says, “You know, there was Marilyn Monroe and Andy Warhol, and then Michael Jackson and Jeff Koons. When you’re an icon, that’s what happens.” But that doesn’t mean they’re not watching. Sachs, Marchi said, even put Hello Kitty’s bow on the correct side of her head. “And that’s something we pay attention to.”
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