European nation scraps €1 coin design amid plagiarism scandal
The Croatian Central Bank’s Currency Committee has announced a new open tender for a national €1 coin design on Tuesday after its previous choice led to a media scandal.
The design declared as the winner of the previous contest turned out to have been copied from a photo by Scottish photographer Iain Leach.
The national side of Croatia’s first-ever €1 coin was expected to feature a pine marten in a reference to the country’s currency, since the mammal is called a kuna in Croatian as well. The nation is about to switch from national currency to the euro in 2023, and the design tender is a part of the process.
The design that was eventually selected from the many submissions came from a man identified as Stjepan Pranjkovic. His entry featured a pine marten on a tree branch pictured sidewise. Pranjkovic was then awarded 70,000 kuna ($10,636) for his winning design.
Wait, did someone really just trace a photo of a pine marten by Iain H. Leach and the Croatian National Bank approved it as the design for the new Croatian 1 Euro coin obverse? Yes, yes apparently that is exactly what happened. pic.twitter.com/vuT8WfK6c5— ⬢ Jens Wiechers ⬡ (he/him; prefers they/them) (@jwiechers) February 5, 2022
When the bank presented the design last Friday, it quickly raised questions on social media and in Croatian media as well. Some were quick to point out that the design appeared to bear a surprising resemblance to a photo by Iain Leach taken in Scotland in 2005.
After being alerted over Twitter, the photographer said it was the first time he had heard about the issue. He also said he was “not sure” he could do anything about it, and hoped he would be awarded “a free coin” for his work.
“I would like to be acknowledged officially as the photographer and to receive a fee for its use. I also do not think the person who stole my photograph should be rewarded nearly 10,000 euros for something copied,” Leach told the Croatian media on Monday.
It is the same. Hope you got credit or gave a licence. pic.twitter.com/2VVx9jVChO— Marko (@mlinka) February 4, 2022
Pranjkovic made no public statements amid the plagiarism allegations, but withdrew his draft design and renounced all the rights linked to him winning the tender late last Sunday. The Currency Committee then announced a new open tender for the coin art.
Now, all the authors and participants of the tender are required to submit a written guarantee confirming “their work was an original intellectual creation made exclusively for the purpose of the tender.” The bank also thanked the public for “its active role in timely recognizing the seriousness of this important procedure.”
The new tender “will not jeopardize the timely production of the Croatian euro coins,” the bank said.