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

(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."

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.
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)
The 1,454-foot Empire State Building, left, and the 1,776-foot One World Trade Center, right, are shown in this photo from New Yorks Top of the Rock Observation Deck at Rockefeller Center.
The 1,454-foot Empire State Building, left, and the 1,776-foot One World Trade Center, right, are shown in this photo from New York"s Top of the Rock Observation Deck at Rockefeller Center.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
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