Ariana Grande sues Forever 21 for $10M, alleges brand stole her image, likeness
Ariana Grande has hit Forever 21 with a $10 million lawsuit alleging the brand stole her image, court papers show.
The 21-page suit, filed Monday in the Central District of California, claims Forever 21 and its sister company, Riley Rose, used Grande’s “name, image, likeness and music” without her permission to promote their companies, according to the lawsuit.
Forever 21, Inc., which owns beauty brand Riley Rose, had approached Grande – whose real name is Ariana Grande-Butera – about an endorsement deal in early 2019, but she turned it down “due to Forever 21’s unwillingness to pay the fair market value for a celebrity of Ms. Grande’s stature," according to court records.
“Fearing irrelevance in a rapidly evolving market with increasing competition from other fast fashion brands, rather than pay Ms. Grande, Forever 21 and Riley Rose…instead stole her name, likeness and other intellectual property to promote their brands for free,” the suit states.
Grande boasts 163 million followers on Instagram and more than 65 million Twitter followers, and was worth approximately $48 million as of early July, according to Forbes.
Forever 21 and Riley Rose allegedly used Grande’s brand on 13 occasions, which suggested her endorsement by “hiring a look-a-like model and posting photos of that model” in clothes and accessories typically associated with the popstar, or those that she was wearing in popular music videos.
The court papers provide a number of examples, including a Feb. 8 post to Forever 21’s Instagram page, which features an image of a model dressed similarly to Grande in the music video for her hit song, “7 Rings.”
“Gee thanks, just bought it!,” the post caption reads, in part, quoting lyrics from the same song.
A different post to the brand’s Instagram page features a picture of Grande with two other models, and even tags the superstar's own account.
The company’s unauthorized use of Grande’s material began on Nov. 30, 2018 and continued until April 17 – despite demands for the social media posts to be taken down on Feb. 23, March 15 and April 3 of this year, according to the court papers.
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Meanwhile, Forever 21 is reportedly exploring the option of filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Bloomberg reported last week.
A spokesperson for Forever 21 would not comment on the pending litigation, but said: "[W]hile we dispute the allegations, we are huge supporters of Ariana Grande and have worked with her licensing company over the past two years. We are hopeful that we will find a mutually agreeable resolution and can continue to work together in the future."