Empire State Bldg. Sues 'Boobs Around Town' Photographer for $1M

By Brett Snider, Esq. on January 15, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A titillating photographer is being sued by the Empire State Building's management over some sky-high boobie photos.

Allen Henson, 30, actually snapped the saucy pic of a model bearing her chest on the monument's 86th-floor observation deck in August, but the pic has since gone viral, reports Reuters. The famous building's owners are now seeking compensation for what they believe amounts to more than $1 million in damage to its reputation.

Should Henson pay up for snapping the salacious shot?

Boobs Over Broadway 5th Avenue

The photo behind the controversy was actually one of several mammary-filled photographic moments around New York City, reports Reuters. Henson became fascinated with bare breasts in public after hearing about the New York Police Department's memo reminding officers that just being topless in public is not a crime.

And while topless performers like Holly Van Voast (aka Harvey Van Toast) have been fighting with the NYPD over this legal distinction for years, Hanson isn't tangling with the city. The Empire State Building is fairly strict in allowing visitors to the observation deck, requiring them to pass through airport-style security screening. So it seems consistent that the building's management would balk at being used as the backdrop for a viral topless pic.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in New York state court, alleges that Henson conducted an unauthorized, commercial topless shoot on the Empire State Building's observation deck. The owners accuse Henson of damaging the historic building's reputation as a "secure and appropriate place[] for families and tourists," reports the New York Post.

Exposed to Liability

Although Henson claims that his "Boobs Around Town" photos were not for commercial use -- although he is a commercial photographer -- the photos nevertheless expose him to civil liability.

When private businesses are unknowingly the scenes of something unsavory or illegal, they can sue the perpetrators to recover for any damage to their businesses' reputations. After Chris Brown and Drake trashed a New York City nightclub with their brawling and bottle throwing, the trademark holder of the club sued the pair for $16 million for damaging its business interests. The lawsuit ultimately failed because club fights aren't exactly rare in the nightclub industry.

Bare breasts, however, are a bit of a surprise when it comes to tourists and families seeking to visit the Empire State Building, so Henson might be in trouble.

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