Few graphic-design institutions are (or were) as highly regarded as Hoefler & Frere-Jones, a small New York City type foundry whose perfectly crafted typefaces—including Gotham, Whitney, and Champion—saturate media, advertising, entertainment, and politics. Obama tapped the company to create a custom font for his second presidential campaign. Now the two sides of the ampersand are at war over who actually owns the company.
Tobias Frere-Jones quit earlier this month, and yesterday filed a lengthy complaint against his now-former colleague Jonathan Hoefler. The document alleges that when Hoefler recruited Frere-Jones—and his existing “dowry fonts”—to join what was then (and remains, legally) the Hoefler Type Foundry, Hoefler orally promised Frere-Jones a 50 percent stake in the company. After supposedly delaying for several years, by Frere-Jones’s account, Hoefler reneged in October 2013 and transferred the stake to his own wife.
Frere-Jones’s filing starts right off by calling Hoefler’s conduct “the most profound treachery” and goes on to paint himself as a trusting design genius wronged by his vulgar and untalented associate: “Hoefler’s principal role was to run the business side of the company and use his ‘client-hustling skills’ to sell Frere-Jones’s work.”
Following his departure, Tobias filed a claim against company founder Jonathan Hoefler. Its allegations are not the facts, and they profoundly misrepresent Tobias's relationship with both the company and Jonathan. [...] It goes without saying that all of us are disappointed by Tobias's actions. The company will vigorously defend itself against these allegations, which are false and without legal merit.
[Photo credit: Associated Press]