Why the Julia Child Foundation is Suing Airbnb

The late chef's kitchen is heating up all over again.

If you ever had the incredible luck to cook with Julia Child or visit her at home in the south of France, then the Airbnb ad for that Provence house will look familiar to you. But if you're like the remaining 99.99999999 percent (give or take) of the human race, you might end up renting that house—at a pretty reasonable $600 a night—without ever realizing that it belonged to Julia Child. That's because the late chef's foundation is taking Airbnb to court for using her image and name in online ads for the house, and as a result the listing now no longer mentions her name. The house's history, by the way, is not at issue in the lawsuit: That was indeed Julia Child's house. The problem is the way it's being branded by the home-sharing company.

As Quartz reports, the foundation's lawsuit states that “Notwithstanding expressly being denied permission to do so, Airbnb … engaged in a broad marketing and promotional campaign … to win a free night at the ‘Former Julia Child Home." The foundation, which has controlled Julia Child's publicity rights since 2004, filed the complaint in California state court. So far Airbnb isn't commenting on the suit.

Before and after photos posted on Quartz show how little has changed in the kitchen (pictured above) since Julia Child lives there, but the site quotes celeb chef Anthony Bourdain explaining how Child wasn't the type to endorse any product or brand, let alone her own private home. 

“Though uniquely situated to do so, she never endorsed a thing,” Bourdain said of Child in 2012. “Not a pot, not a pan, not a chain of restaurants, not a spice blend, apron, or boil-in-the-bag dinner.”

Now, one of the world's most legendary chefs is no longer forced to posthumously endorse even her own kitchen against her will.


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