Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This


Wyland's Whale of a Tale: Pull the Plates, Please!

Stories like these are only possible with your help!
Your donation today keeps LAist independent, ready to meet the needs of our city, and paywall free. Thank you for your partnership, we can't do this without you.

For 14 years California drivers have been able to select a whale-themed license plate designed by Laguna Beach artist Wyland which is offered by the DMV in partnership with the state Coastal Commission.

Wyland, however, has now pulled his authorization on the use of the design, calling the Coast Commission "bullies" for denying his request that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the plates go to his own foundation. Apparently, for the full 14 years the plates have been circulating the Coastal Commission has not given Wyland nor the Wyland Foundation any royalties for the image, under the parameters of what is being called an "informal agreement." The plate has generated approximately $40 million in revenue thus far.

The OC Register reports:

Support for LAist comes from
Wyland, his attorney by his side, said Wednesday that he has given the commission a 30-day notice to stop using his design. If the commission continues using it after the notice period expires, Wyland said, they will be in violation of copyright laws.

In response, the Coastal Commission said they would continue to use the plates until they find another design to replace Wyland's. If he has too, the marine-life artist doesn't mind getting tough; if his requests go unheeded he knows what he'd like to see happen, according to the OC Register: "What I want is a forensic audit of every penny of that $40 million," Wyland said.Photo of a Wyland whale mural by ewen and donabel via Flickr