Jonathan Simkhai Slapped With Lawsuit Over Gigi Hadid Photo

Gigi Hadid is proving to be at the center of at least two recently-filed lawsuits. Last week, the superstar model and her agency, IMG Models, were sued for copyright infringement after Hadid allegedly posted a photo of herself to her Instagram without authorization from the copyright holder. Even more recently, New York-based designer Jonathan Simkhai has been sued for posting a photo starring the famous runway model.

According to photographer Carl Wu’s complaint, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Monday, Simkhai is on the hook for the “unauthorized reproduction and public display of a copyrighted photograph of American fashion model Gigi Hadid owned and registered by Wu.” Specifically, Wu – who is both the photographer and copyright holder of the photo (and thus, the party with exclusive rights to sell, copy, and display it) – alleges that in June, Simkhai posted the photo on a number of websites, including the brand’s Twitter and Facebook pages.  

In the photo at issue, Hadid is pictured leaving her apartment in an embellished top and silk trousers from Simkhai’s Fall/Winter 2017 collection.

 Wu's photo on Simkhai's Twitter

Wu's photo on Simkhai's Twitter

New York-based Wu claims that Simkhai “did not license the photograph from [him] for [use on these] websites, nor did Simkhai have [his] permission or consent to publish the photograph on [these sites].”  And as such, “the foregoing acts of infringement by Simkhai have been willful, intentional, and purposeful, in disregard of and indifference to [Wu’s] rights.”

Wu is seeking monetary damages, including actual damages, and any profits made by Simkhai – who showed his well-reviewed Spring/Summer 2018 collection during New York Fashion Week over the weekend – in connection with his use of Wu’s photo, or statutory damages of up to $150,000 per copyrighted work infringed.

As of now, the photo remains on Twitter but appears to have been removed from Simhkai’s brand’s Facebook page. A representative for Jonathan Simkhai was not available for comment.

* The case is Carl Wu, v. Jonathan Simkhai, Inc., 1:17-cv-06896 (SDNY).