Kevin Costner Is Fighting In The South Dakota Supreme Court

Kevin Costner is battling in the Supreme Court to move sculptures against the wishes of the commissioned artist.

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

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If you like the idea of Yellowstone star Kevin Costner starring in a legal drama, you don’t have to wait for his next movie or television show (though we’d honestly kill to have him make a cameo in Law & Order). That’s because the veteran actor is currently embroiled in a major legal battle over sculptures (no, really). And according to The Dakota Scout, the actor is now taking on the South Dakota Supreme Court because he commissioned sculptures for a planned casino and resort and wants to move the statues against the wishes of the original artist.

Believe it or not, Kevin Costner’s legal battles over this matter stretch back for more than 15 years. Back in the day, Costner commissioned a sculptor named Peggy Detmers to create 17 sculptures for a planned resort, The Dunbar. They were going to be built on the edges of a gambling town named Deadwood (no relation to the show, if you were curious).

The resort was never built, though, so Detmer filed a lawsuit in 2008 to try to compel him to sell the sculptures she spent six years crafting and split the profits from the sale.

She argued that she had already cut Kevin Costner a sweetheart deal on the commission because she was hoping to make continued profits from replicas sold at the resort. But the court decided in favor of Costner. The court reached this decision because the artist had agreed to where the sculptures would be placed and never received a firm guarantee the resort would be built.

This decision was supported by the South Dakota Supreme Court in 2012, with the court finding that Costner had lived up to his promise to display the sculptures elsewhere (in this case, the actor’s Tatanka attraction that is located close to where the resort was going to be built).


Now, the legal drama continues because Kevin Costner has decided that he wants to sell the land and is planning to move the sculptures to a new location without the consent or approval of Peggy Detmers. She has sued Costner once again, and the matter is now back in front of the state’s Supreme Court, but she might have a stronger case this time. As her lawyer has argued, Costner supported the earlier court decision to display the statues near his unbuilt resort, and just as the artist has had to live with the decision to display the statues in this location, the famous actor should have to live with the decision as well.

It’s tough to predict how this case is going to go simply because there are compelling arguments on both sides: in the original case, Kevin Costner won because he lived up to the promise of displaying the sculptures elsewhere. At the same time, it’s hard not to root for an underdog artist who keeps getting screwed over by a famous actor, and the South Dakota Supreme Court now has entirely new judges than it did back in 2012.

Meanwhile, Yellowstone fans are simply hoping the legal drama will wrap up soon so that Costner will have one less excuse to not spend more than a week shooting the back half of the current season.