Louis Vuitton PR scandal: Model loses back $100,000 in suitcases

Written by Staff Writer by Emily Shufelt, CNN

A long-running dispute between an Indonesia man and Louis Vuitton has exposed the company’s notoriously secretive relationship with its top vendors.

Malick Effendi, a 19-year-old local model, is seen in video footage being surrounded by a crowd, stripped of his clothing and shoved into a van.

Effendi managed to squeeze in a few items of Louis Vuitton’s famous Vuitton luggage before being driven away from a parking lot in Bole, an upmarket suburb of Jakarta.

He was allegedly attempting to return a $100,000 collection that he had supposedly bought from a fellow model during a fashion show, but says he never meant to take the suitcases.

‘Theft of assets’

The footage was recorded by local television station Padis TV as a part of a documentary which caught the young man in an increasingly bizarre version of paparazzi waiting.

“They saw the fact that there were Vuitton bags left behind. I took them with me to return,” Effendi tells the station.

“People came to harass and hassle me. I didn’t bother. I left the Vuitton bag behind. If I return it then I’ll get sued.”

Effendi, who is reported to have a university degree, says he “still wants to work with Louis Vuitton,” despite his public shaming.

The dispute hinges on the possession of the Vuitton bags. Effendi insists he bought them from another model, but after their entire contents were filmed being carted away, the Chinese-owned company placed a claim on the samples.

According to the man, Louis Vuitton collected the suitcases full of clothes and other accessories and says they were stolen from his personal apartment. He is now seeking $100,000 in damages.

An employee at Louis Vuitton’s Indonesia branch says the company has not received any formal complaint. “We’ve seen the video and we will try to help to resolve the matter,” the person tells CNN.

But Effendi says he has already received letters from Louis Vuitton purporting to deal with the dispute. “I already have letters from Louis Vuitton officials saying that the Vuitton collections of my friend were stolen and I failed to follow due process,” he says.

‘Famous brand’

Two attempts to set up the film have reportedly been met with a deadline extension. Effendi claims the company wants him to return the entire collection — which he rejects — or pay for the damages.

“There are a lot of people wanting to steal prestigious brands. If it’s in Indonesia, it will come to Indonesia,” he says.

Effendi says he is able to continue to use Louis Vuitton’s brand, but the film’s director, Sebastian Shipa, says the company would be wise to check their “famous brand” can still do business in such a hostile country.

“What you see on the surface doesn’t tell the whole story. There is a lot of corporate greed behind the scenes,” he says.

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