Everyone’s favourite Turkish butcher and living meme, Nusret Gökçe, otherwise known as Salt Bae, is being sued by a Brooklyn artist for $5 million for an alleged copyright infringement.
The lawsuit, filed by artist William Hicks, alleges that the chef printed his art on menus, takeout bags, and signs at international Nusr-Et Steakhouse locations in Turkey, Greece, and the United Arab Emirates without permission.
According to the lawsuit, Gökçe commissioned Hicks to create a mural of the chef in his signature salt-sprinkling pose for his Miami restaurant. Other artworks were then commissioned for other international locations. The artist, however, claims that Gökçe then used the artwork for menus and other items without compensating the artist or obtaining a licence to use the artist’s work.
This is not the first time Gökçe has faced trouble in the courts. In 2019, workers at his Miami and Manhattan restaurants joined together to allege the chef pooled tips, declined to pay overtime and underpaid employees. This year a Texas construction company sued the restaurant chain claiming unpaid bills of $933,000 for the construction of his Dallas restaurant.
Despite the disastrous year for restaurants across the world, Salt Bae continues to expand his restaurant empire with new locations in Boston and Dallas, and a new location planned for London. It seems customers are still willing to pay large amounts for gold-plated steaks.