Kendall and Kylie Jenner Sued by Photographer for Using His Tupac Photos on Their Now-Pulled Vintage T-Shirts
The sisters' design drama is not over
Kendall and Kylie Jenner have been under fire for a line of “vintage” tees that were released by their eponymous clothing line, Kendall + Kylie, last week. The “Rap vs. Rock” T-shirt lines featured the sisters’ faces superimposed over images of famous musicians including Tupac Shakur, Notorious B.I.G. and The Doors. Celebrities such as Paris Jackson and Kelly and Sharon Osbourne spoke out, The Doors issued a cease and desist letter and Notorious B.I.G.’s mom, Voletta Wallace shared her disappointment on Instagram. Although the sisters issued a formal apology and recalled the shirts, the backlash continues.
Photographer Michael Miller is allegedly suing the stars for using his photos of Tupac Shakur without his permission, TMZ reports. The shirts were part of a limited-edition capsule collection that were on sale for $125 a piece, but immediately pulled from the site. The sisters issued an apology on social media, saying that it was “not our intention to disrespect cultural icons in anyway.”
The brand released a statement to PEOPLE on Wednesday addressing the controversy. “The Kendall + Kylie brand apologizes for any insensitivity. When deciding to work with one-of-a-kind repurposed vintage tees, it was not the brand’s intent to offend anyone. These designs were randomly selected and not well thought out. The brand would like to apologize, especially to the artists that have been featured in the series. We did not mean to disrespect these icons and understand that we missed the mark completely. The designs have been removed. We sincerely apologize to the artists, their families and estates and anyone who may have been offended.”
A representative for the brand added following these further claims from the photographer, “The allegations made are completely false and the lawsuit is baseless. Canada Inc., the licensee manufacturer of the K + K brand, purchased a very small quantity of vintage t-shirts with performer images already on them. Only two Tupac t shirts were sold before being pulled from distribution. Canada Inc. did not copy anyone’s image, remove any copyright notice from any image, or attempt to exploit Mr. Miller’s claimed right of publicity. There has been no infringement or violation of anyone’s rights. ”
Biggie’s mother expressed her disappoint in the sisters using her son’s likeness without permission from his estate writing on Instagram: “The disrespect of these girls to not even reach out to me or anyone connected to the estate baffles me.” Even after the designers apologized, the estate told PEOPLE, “While we appreciate that the Jenners have made an apology and pulled the unlawful and unauthorized items, this matter has yet to be resolved.”
In addition to the image of Biggie and Shakur, the controversial shirts included designs of Metallica, Pink Floyd and Jim Morrison.
Regarding Morrison, the sisters used the iconic “Lion” image of the singer but failed to get trademark approval for it from the musician’s estate, which prompted The Doors’ lawyer to issue a cease and desist letter to the Jenners. The letter stated, “Your use of the registered trademarks in commerce is likely to cause confusion, mistake or to deceive consumers into believing that the Kendall + Kylie apparel was authorized by the Doors when no such authorization was sought or provided by the Doors.”
It went on to say that the use of the band’s logo is “likely to cause dilution by tarnishment of the famous mark” and “harms the reputation of the Doors.”
What are your thoughts on the T-shirt controversy?