Fonderie 47 Founder Files Suit Over Gun Control Jewelry

AK47 bracelet made by Fonderie 47

Fonderie 47′s jewelry is made of repurposed steel from AK-47s taken out of war zones in Africa.

There’s something particularly sad about charities fighting. One just sort of expects people who are trying to do good things to be relatively chill about things like credit and money, but that doesn’t necessarily hold. Now two gun-repurposing causes have gotten in a legal fight over who had the right to turn guns into jewelry first.

Newark, N.J., mayor Corey Booker made headlines when he partnered with Jewelry for a Cause to turn seized and repurchased illegal guns into jewelry to help generate revenue for Newark’s gun buyback program. But a rival jewelry designer has filed a federal suit against Jewelry for a Cause founder Jessica Mindich, claiming she stole his idea for making jewelry from guns.

According to the NY Post, the suit was brought by Peter Thum of Fonderie 47, a jewelry line famous for taking AK-47 assault rifles out of war zones in Africa and repurposing their steel for high-end jewelry. Like the Jewelry for a Cause pieces, each piece of assault rifle jewelry is engraved with the serial number of the gun destroyed to make it.

The Jewelry for a Cause bracelets run from $150 to $1,275, and an ID bracelet produced in collaboration with MTV is just $40. The higher-end Fonderie 47 pieces can clear $150,000.

Thum’s suit maintains that he talked to Mindich about his line at a conference in 2011 and that Booker was in attendance during a “small group discussion” where Thum described his gun-repurposing business plan in some detail.

In the suit, Thum alleges that Mindich approached him about working on a gun-repurposing program in Newark, but he turned her down and “made it clear that he did not consent to her exploiting his ideas.”

Thum’s lawyer told the Post that if Thum wins his lawsuit, he intends to donate any money he is awarded to charity.

But according to Mindich’s representatives, Thum shouldn’t be planning that donation just yet.

“We believe that the complaint is without merit, and we will defend it vigorously,” one of her representatives said.

Via The New York Post/Photo: Facebook/Fonderie 47

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    • Lastango

      Yet another good post, Elizabeth — You pick interesting topics and give us good information and links. I’m really enjoying reading your material.
      I’m struck by this bit:
      “In the charity world, it is crucial to be first,” Thum’s lawyer Judd Burstein told The Post’s Richard Johnson. “That’s who people want to work with, the person who had the idea, the person who came up with the concept.”
      I wonder if that gives us a bit a peek behind the curtain of what we might call the “charity game”. That’s where people use charity involvement as a social vehicle for personal advancement through career-enhancing connections, and for generating publicity from friendly media.
      In that cycle, the media play up the charity in return for access. The media get stories to write, and can position themselves as gatekeepers and power-brokers — sort of like the dance between designers and fashion mag editors. The people in the charities get connections and star-power. Payday comes with photos in the NYT society pages and invitations to gala events. It’s win-win game that has little or nothing whatever to do with the cause.
      If so, perhaps what they’re really fighting about in the lawsuit are those spoils. Maybe there’s a Gloss Reader who knows more about this and can comment.

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    • Brian Blackwell

      Mindich has blatantly stolen the idea. Charity or not it’s ethically wrong to steal an idea, claim it as your own and run with it. This is is especially in poor taste considering the idea was already being implemented for at least 2 or 3 years by Thum.

      It seems to me Mindich saw the opportunity in the wake of multiple national gun related tragedies for her own personal advancement by claiming an already existing idea as her own.