Former model Ann Kirsten Kennis was surprised to see her face on the front cover of Vampire Weekend‘s Contra when her teenage daughter brought the album home this year. “Her daughter came home one day and said, ‘Hi, Mom, see your picture?’” attorney Alan Neigher, who is representing Kennis in her $2 million lawsuit against the band for allegedly using her image without permission, tells EW.
Kennis retired from modeling years ago and now lives in Connecticut with her husband and daughter. According to her lawyer, the photo was taken in 1983, but not as part of her professional career. “It was taken by her family,” Neigher says. “It was a Polaroid, not a modeling picture.” So how did it wind up on the cover of a No. 1 hit album? Kennis isn’t sure. “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,” says Neigher. “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.”
“The photographer” is Tod Brody, who is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit. He laughed out loud when told of Kennis’ story. “Ms. Kennis’ claim that I didn’t take the photo is blatantly false,” Brody tells EW. “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.” Brody declined further comment, citing his own attorneys’ advice.
[JULY 22 UPDATE: Neigher has since clarified that he was only speculating when he said that a member of Kennis' family snapped the shot. "We have no idea who took the picture," he now tells EW. Kennis maintains that she never met Brody and that her signature on the release form he gave Vampire Weekend was forged.]
Vampire Weekend has yet to comment on the case. (See update after the jump.) After hearing both stories, who do you think is in the right here? Weigh in below.
[UPDATE: In a statement, the band's label said it intends to file a response to the suit soon: "As is standard practice, Vampire Weekend and XL Recordings licensed the rights to use the photo on the cover of Contra pursuant to a license agreement that contains representations and warranties authorizing this use of the photo. Now that a lawsuit has been filed, we look forward to having the matter resolved in court."]
(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)
More from EW.com’s Music Mix:
Vampire Weekend sued by ‘Contra’ cover model
Did 1995 have the greatest summer songs of the past 25 years?
Justin Bieber, comic book star?
The Social Network trailer: Who’s that choir singing Radiohead’s “Creep”?
Pink hospitalized after concert fall, but says “full steam ahead”