Man Sued for Taking Topless Photos Atop NYC Landmark
Empire State Building owners not pleased with 86th-floor shot
By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff
Posted Jan 14, 2014 9:07 AM CST
Tourists look over a foggy and rainy New York City from the observation deck of the Empire State Building in New York, Wednesday, July 3, 2013.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

(Newser) – The Empire State Building's owners feel strongly about the landmark's reputation as a "safe and secure family friendly tourist attraction"—so much so that it's suing a photographer who temporarily made it a little too R-rated. On Aug. 9, Allen Henson had a model strip off her top on the observation deck and then snapped photos of her on his cell phone. It was also taken at a time when the typically crowded observation deck was indeed packed with tourists and their kids, claim the owners, who Reuters reports are suing Henson for $1 million.

Though the suit alleges Henson's images were produced "for his own commercial purpose," he says the cell-phone shots are part of a "social experiment" that also saw him taking topless photos in Central Park, in a sushi restaurant, and next to NYPD officers (PG-rated images here); it started after he learned of a May 2013 memorandum that barred NYC officers from arresting women who show their breasts in public. The New York Daily News reports that the building owners said they had to "divert management time, resources, and attention to deal with the inappropriate objectionable conduct and potentially dangerous situation the defendant created." Per Henson, that didn't include their guards, who he says did not respond to the scene or remove him. Actually, no one seemed that bothered, he tells the Daily News: "She has nice breasts but people were looking at the view. It was a beautiful day."

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Showing 3 of 28 comments
Jan 14, 2014 9:39 PM CST
I was there. I didn't get to see the scenery because it was chilly and something poked my eyes out.
Jan 14, 2014 7:16 PM CST
In Europe women go topless at the beach, hotel swimming pools, going down slides at water parks, and in city parks.
Jan 14, 2014 5:58 PM CST
People v. Santorelli restricts the applicability of § 245.01. The Court of Appeals of New York ruled in 1992 that exposure of a bare female breast violates this law only when it takes place in a commercial context. As a practical matter, proper enforcement of this section can be a problem, since local enforcement agents are often unfamiliar with the case law that interprets the statutory language.