Nuevo Culture

Cardi B Wins $350K Over Tattoo — Yes, A Tattoo

It seems that the case against Cardi B for a man’s tattoo being used on a cover album has been finally put to rest.

In 2017, Kevin Michael Brophy Jr. sued rapper Cardi B because of the provocative use of his back tattoo in her Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 1 mixtape. On the cover, Cardi B is seen facing the viewer while a man leans down in between her legs with only his back showing. Brophy told the press that his life was “devastated” thanks to the use of this tattoo, and wanted $5 million in damages. 

The back tattoo ended up on Cardi B’s mixtape cover after designer Timm Gooden found Brophy’s back tattoo online and superimposed it onto the back of the model featured in the cover design. At the time, Cardi B’s team argued that the use of Brophy’s tattoo was fair under “transformative fair use law.” This argument was rejected and paved the way for Brophy v. Belcalis Almánzar (Cardi B’s legal name) to go to trial. 

At one point, U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney had to temporarily stop the proceedings after a cross-examination by Brophy’s attorney A. Barry Cappello got heated. The judge proceeded to warn Cappello that he had “totally crossed the line.” A mistrial was floated if such behavior continued. And in October 2022, Judge Carney ruled in Cardi B’s favor with her tweeting, “I’m soo emotional right now. I wanna kiss God’s feet right now… I’M BEYOND GRATEFUL!!!!”

Brophy tried to appeal but Judge Carney stated, “The jury had an ample basis for its verdict” and that “Brophy’s tattoo played a minor role in what was a larger visual commentary on sexual politics. Brophy’s tattoo was but one tattoo on the back of the model.”

According to Billboard, on Monday (June 12) Brophy announced that he will repay Cardi B’s legal fees of $350,000 while also voluntarily ending any efforts to revive this case or try for an appeal at a later late. Cardi B’s team also agreed to not file a motion in return to seek any other fees or damages. 

Both sides wrote during the filing, “The parties now have reached an agreement avoiding the necessity of defendants’ motion for attorney’s fees and application to tax costs.”