The cover of Contra, which was released in January, features a photo of a wide-eyed young woman with wavy strawberry blond hair wearing a popped Ralph Lauren yellow polo.
In a lawsuit filed July 14, Ann Kristen Kennis says she’s the girl in the 1983 photo and that she never gave the band permission to use the image.
The complaint names Vampire Weekend, the band’s record company, XL Recordings, and photographer Tod Brody.
Entertainment Weekly reports that in the early ‘80s Kennis was working as “a high-fashion model under contract with prestigious agencies in New York City” but that the photo was actually taken by her family.
“It was a Polaroid, not a modeling picture,” attorney Alan Neigher told EW. “Her mother was a chronic Polaroid snapshot taker, and used to sell whole archives of photographs to these shops, five bucks a hundred or whatever. Her mother may have given away to a charity bazaar a whole ream of photographs. We just really don’t know … She has no idea how that photograph got into the photographer’s hands.”
Neigher notes that Kennis wasn’t aware her photo was being used until after her daughter brought home the Vampire Weekend album.
Kennis claims that her signature was forged on a “photographic release,” which the band received from Brody, according to CBSNews.com.
Entertainment Weekly tracked down Brody to tell his side of the story.
“Ms. Kennis’ claim that I didn’t take the photo is blatantly false. I took the photo in 1983. The photo was in my possession the entire time, for 26 years, until it was delivered to Vampire Weekend.”
The suit says Kennis believes she’s owed at least $2 million because “the album design, in which the photograph is featured prominently, was a substantial factor in generating recognition and buzz for the Contra album, thus increasing sales and profits.”
Contra is the follow-up to Vampire Weekend’s 2008 self-titled debut.
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