Sunday, February 21, 2016
The Kiss at City Hall
The Kiss at City Hall In Paris became an emblematic iconic image symbolising the end of the Second World War in Europe. It turned photographer Robert Doisneau into a household name but the image and how it came into being has courted controversy.
Controversy has surrounded The Kiss since it emerged in the ’80s. As it became more lucrative, several couples claimed it was them in the photo. Doisneau eventually admitted the snap was not spontaneous – he got the couple to pose for him. Actress Francoise Bornet even sued for a share of the royalties. Ms Bornet claimed the photo captured her and her boyfriend, Jacques Carteaud.
Her suit failed but she managed to get a print bearing the photographer’s signature and stamp, which she sold 12 years later, in 2005, for €155,000, ten times the expected price.
But while arguments raged over who are the kissing couple, the family of a Dublin auctioneer have claimed it was their father in the picture who was accidentally caught in the background wearing an iconic French beret. Colette Cody and her brothers have long maintained the passer-by in the black beret in The Kiss At City Hall In Paris is their father, Jack Costello.
The Dublin auctioneer was on a motorbike pilgrimage to Rome in 1950 when he walked into photographer Robert Doisneau’s passionate shot and unwittingly became a star, the family claims.
However Doisneau’s descendants say that the man in the beret was Canadian Gerard Petit.
French-Canadian Marc de Mauregne says he was the man kissing in the picture.
Mr Costello died in 1983 aged 74, three years before the picture was found in the archives of a Paris photo agency.
It was only ten years later that his son, John, spotted the image on a poster in a Dublin shop. The family were immediately convinced of the identity of the man in a beret.
Meanwhile, Jack Costello’s daughter, Colette, says the family never sought any money from the photograph. Her brother, John, maintains that, despite claims to the contrary, there are too many coincidences for the man in the black beret not to be his father.