Yesterday brought the news that a former “high-fashion model” by the name of Ann Kirsten Kennis was suing Vampire Weekend for using a 1983 photograph of her on the cover of their most recent album, Contra. Kennis, according to a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, sought two million dollars in damages from Vampire Weekend and the photographer, Tod Brody, who’d licensed the picture to the band–using a forged signature, according to Kennis’s suit. Early today, we spoke with Kennis on the phone: her youngish daughter picked up when we called, and the former model, who now lives in Fairfield, Connecticut, was charming but nervous when we spoke. She was reluctant to talk about the lawsuit, and promised to call us back. As yet, she hasn’t. But in the meantime, Entertainment Weekly tracked down Kennis’s lawyer, who offers a fuller account of what happened between the model and the band.
Kennis’s first brush with Vampire Weekend came via her kids: “Her daughter came home one day and said, ‘Hi, Mom, see your picture?'” attorney Alan Neigher told EW’s Simon Vozick-Levinson. “It was taken by her family,” Neigher added, claiming “It was a Polaroid, not a modeling picture.” Thus the photographer Tod Brody, who sold the rights to the photo to the band, couldn’t have taken the picture, according to Kennis’s lawyer: “She has no idea how that photograph got into the photographer’s hands.” Body disputes this account: “Ms. Kennis’ claim that I didn’t take the photo is blatantly false,” he told EW, adding “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 band, when we reached out to them, declined to comment. On Twitter yesterday, the band’s singer, Ezra Koenig, had only this to say: