The creator of iconic Seventies prog-rock album covers is suing Hollywood film director James Cameron for more than £30 million over claims the film Avatar stole imagery from his artistic career.

Lewes-based artist Roger Dean has filed papers to a court in New York alleging Mr Cameron stole images he created to construct the planet Pandora in the biggest grossing film of all time.

The 68-year-old artist, who has sold 60m copies of his work, claims images used in the triple-Oscar-winning film, which has grossed almost £3 billion across the globe, closely resembled his own work in creating album covers for Yes, Asia and the London Symphony Orchestra.

In a 17-page document submitted to a court in New York, Dean says that the film’s landscape of floating mountains and stone arches have appeared in around 40 of his paintings throughout his career.

The legal papers also claim Cameron directly copied two tree forms from his cover for |the 1973 Yes album Yessongs.

The legal claim continues: “The overall look and feel of Pandora substantially resembles a Roger Dean world in that Pandora’s most striking and memorable features are those created by the plaintiff.”


A former graduate of Royal College of Art who has lived in Lewes for the past 40 years, Dean said that there were numerous comments on the internet which supported his claim.

As well as album covers, he has also created a number of books while his architecture and furniture designs have been exhibited in the V&A museum and the Royal Academy.

Cameron, who won a best director Oscar for the film Titanic, has said publicly that he first came up with the idea for Avatar in 1995.

He has already successfully defeated two previous plagiarism claims while in March a judge gave the go-ahead to screenwriter Bryant Moore to pursue a claim that parts of two scripts he sent to Cameron's company were used in Avatar.

The first of three sequels to the hit film is set to be released in 2015.

Twentieth Century Fox, who financed and distributed the film, said the firm does not comment on legal issues.