Empire State Building Says Photographer of Topless Ladies Is Making a Mockery of Its Very Serious Lawsuit

Photo by guy being sued Allen Henson, obviously
The offending photograph
Back in January, as you may recall, we told you about Allen Henson, the fine art photographer who was slapped with a million-dollar lawsuit after he took photographs of a model, Shelby Carter, topless atop the Empire State Building's observatory deck. Not to be outdone, Henson roundly mocked the lawsuit in the press and then countersued the company behind the iconic building for $5 million.

Representatives for the Empire State Building have never publicly commented on the lawsuit. As it turns out, though, lawyers for very tall buildings have feelings, too, and those feelings are, at the moment, deeply bruised. In new court filings, the building's representatives accuse Henson of "relishing" the publicity around the lawsuit, and planning an in-court demonstration consisting of dozens of topless women.

- See also: Allen Henson, Photographer of Topless Ladies, Countersues Empire State Building for $5 Million

There are two separate companies who run the Empire State Building: ESRT Empire State Building, LLC, and ESRT Observatory TRS, LLC. They're represented by the same trio of lawyers, led by David S. Tannenbaum of the firm Stern Tannenbaum and Bell. On April 7, Tannenbaum filed a motion to dismiss Henson's countersuit, arguing that it's a publicity stunt without any legal basis and full of "demonstrably false" statements. The judge hasn't yet ruled on that request. At the same time, the ESRT lawyers are also asking that Henson be punished by the court for the offense of not taking this whole thing very seriously at all.

"Respectfully, Defendant's assertion of a wholly meritless claim, as well as his repeated and intentional 'appeals to the media,' in which he both attempted to harass and embarrass Plaintiffs and mocked this proceeding, warrant an award of sanctions against Defendant in favor of the Plaintiffs," Tannenbaum writes.

Also included in the new filings is an affidavit by Melanie Maasch, the director of brand development and public relations for the Empire State Building. She writes that Henson never asked for permission to do the photo shoot, which the company maintains is a "commercial" venture, though Henson says he hasn't made any money from it. She also rounded up dozens of articles written about the lawsuit, including the ones published by us, the Daily News, the Post, Reuters, and Gothamist.

Maasch and the Empire State lawyers want to make sure the judge is specifically aware of Henson's promise to come to court backed by an army of topless ladies. On January 14, he put the following appeal on Facebook: "I need a large platoon; about 50 topless girls to accompany me to the NY Supreme Court." As he explained to Gothamist, "We're gonna round up an army of half-naked women and march into the courtroom and cause a huge scene," adding to Metro New York that he'd already had several emails from volunteers.

"Indisputably," Tannenbaum writes, "it is Henson who is not only inviting publicity regarding this action, but relishing it."

That much, we think, everybody can agree on.

The full motion to dismiss is on the following page.

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By the way children drink milk from a mothers breast when they are young, I'm pretty sure they know what boobs are when they are in elementary. If I could go topless everywhere and this be socially acceptable and everyone did it I would love it! Guys can do it so why can't we? I feel like all the women who are upset about this topless picture are uptight and self conscious about themselves. This isn't pornography and quite frankly she didn't harm anyone with her boobs. I come from a country that has nude beaches where tourists travel to just to visit. I really don't understand what the problem is here. It's boobs people, and boobs are made out of fat.. Why are people so scared of boobs? Honestly you should be more worried about other things. If this was a topless guy all they would have done is told him to put a shirt on. Don't they have a name for this, I believe it's called sexism.


If someone hadn't invented clothing this would not be an issue. Personally everyone has seen a naked body before including children, I really don't see what the issue is here. Besides aren't Americans known for liking boobs haha?? Look it's boobs, it didn't hurt anyone at all.. Don't we have bigger far more important things to worry about in this country? I don't understand how Now they are mad because the photographer is suing back? Funny how now that it got thrown back at them they are upset over the situation when in reality it is them that can actually afford to pay such a big law suit. I'm pretty sure the guy was being sarcastic when he said what he said about the women going topless to court with him. I swear some people blow things way out of proportion.. He was trying to be funny, it's what people do (I guess not everyone since this was taken so seriously). Personally this big law suit really put his name as well as the models name out there, I'm sure the people that didn't know who they where before do now because this law suit is so ridiculously absurd.

frank124c topcommenter

If Henson needs more people to go topless with him to the courthouse, I volunteer. Unfortunately I'm not a lady, just a fat old man but I am willing to go topless and bottomless to show the world how ridiculous the whole lawsuit is. As for me going bottomless, its just a small thing.

Clara Picado
Clara Picado

Why? It is legal in NY to be topless. And what's the big deal? Its jus boobs -.-

sweetliberty17761776 topcommenter


"and boobs are made out of fat"

well not all, but I digress

the insistence that breasts are not sexual is a political ploy

I bet Ellen finds them sexual

as do many other lesbians that state as much

so drop the politics and the supposed double standards / anger about men

and maybe focus on the middle class having to pay for some of that "fat reduction" that others want to do but cant afford

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