We all make mistakes. Little ones, big ones, and even whopper ones that go about costing us huge in the long run – about three and a half million dollars to be exact.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) was fined exactly that recently for a bombshell of a boo-boo involving Lady Liberty herself when a federal court ruled that the Post Office had to pay Nevada-based sculptor, Robert Davidson, more than $3.5 million after failing to secure his permission or to pay him the royalties needed to put his replica of the Statue of Liberty on a Forever stamp.
This mistake slash major mix-up occurred almost eight years ago when the USPS Service debut a Forever stamp featuring the image of the Statue of Liberty. Turns out though that the printed closeup taken from Getty Images’ stock photo collection was not the actual iconic statue in New York City but instead, a half-size replica standing outside the New York-New York casino hotel in none other than Sin City.
Talk about sinning it up, as over three billion issued stamps were in circulation for more than three months before the Postal Service realized the error in their ways.
What’s even worse it that it was only after a stamp collector noticed that the statue on the print looked a wee bit different than the real one that arrived in New York Harbor about 130 some years ago that the USPS admitted that a mistake had indeed been made.
Stock photography company, Sunipix, even had to “[email] the postmaster general’s inbox with the correct credit information,” as People.com puts it.
Looking super closely at the stamp, it can be said that the photograph does look quite like the statuette minus some coloring issues and slightly different proportions, as Travel + Leisure notes. It’s probably why the organization seemed not too bothered by the mistake, “giving a sense that the replica and the original are fairly interchangeable.” They even defended the decision to use it.
"We really like the image and are thrilled that people have noticed in a sense," a USPS spokesman told CNN in 2011. "It's something that people really like. If you ask people in Vegas, they're saying, 'Hey, That's great. That's wonderful.' It's certainly injected some excitement into our stamp program."
Postal Service attorneys even added that the two versions were too similar to notice any real differences.
Unfortunately, Davidson doesn’t share the sentiment at all and claims in the official lawsuit that the replica and the original are undoubtedly different, according to USA Today. Davidson’s replica is said to be “more ‘fresh-faced,’ ‘sultry’ and even ‘sexier'” than the original, therefore making it a full-out original design.
Original or non-original? Mistake or just a happy accident? Perhaps only time will tell, but for now, it’s one for Davidson, zero for the U.S. Postal Service, who said in a statement that they “are reviewing the decision and will comment if and when appropriate."