Kanye West and his fashion brand Yeezy have been ordered to pay over $300,000 to Brooklyn, N.Y.-based creative Katelyn Mooney after failing to appear in court.
Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Gerald Lebovits issued a default judgment in Mooney’s favor on Monday, after no lawyer for West or Yeezy was entered on the docket for the fashion line and it never responded to court papers.
The lawsuit, which was originally filed in Manhattan Supreme Court in December, saw Mooney allege that West and his Yeezy brand owed her over $300,000 in damages and unpaid invoices related to a photo shoot she was hired to produce in September.
According to court documents, Mooney was hired by West on Sept. 11, 2022, as an independent contractor to produce a shoot on Sept. 13, 2022, for Yeezy’s new line of SHDZ sunglasses for an agreed amount of $110,000.
The complaint stated that Mooney was hired to be fully responsible for every aspect of the photo shoot, including but not limited to hiring models, reserving studio space, procuring lighting, catering, pre-production and post-production. Once all assets were delivered to Yeezy on Sept. 14, 2022, Mooney submitted her invoice, as agreed.
Mooney claimed at the time that she has only received $15,000 from Yeezy and has tried to settle the matter amicably. In the complaint, Mooney wrote that she is a freelancer and mother of three. “Due to Yeezy’s failure to timely pay her, she has had to take out a significant loan and max out her credit cards just to cover her rent and other bills,” the complaint states. “This abuse of an independent freelancer was the exact type of exploitative conduct Freelance Isn’t Free Act (FIFA) was enacted to address.”
Mooney sought an award of “no less than” $110,000 for her original freelance production services, an additional $110,000 for Yeezy’s failure to pay and the breach of FIFA, plus $95,000 for “breach of contract” and “unjust enrichment.”
In a separate issue, West and his Yeezy Apparel company reportedly owe over $600,000 in unpaid tax debts, according to report by NBC News. In the report, NBC said that the state of California sent three separate tax lien notice letters in July 2021, in February and in September.
NBC News also reportedly found 17 government-imposed liens in California against three of West’s businesses and a charity created in his name dating back as far back as 2012. Four of the liens were labeled active with no indication of them having been terminated or paid.
This follows months of negative headlines for West. Just last week, a law firm filed a class action suit against Adidas for misleading investors, saying the German sportswear brand was aware of West’s controversial and racist behavior well before the brand ended its Yeezy partnership with him in October 2022. Adidas cut ties with West and his Yeezy brand after the rapper-turned-designer made repeated antisemitic comments.
Adidas confirmed in November that it was investigating claims made in an anonymous letter from staff, which alleged that senior executives at the company ignored years of abusive behavior by the rapper and former collaborator. The letter, which was reported exclusively by Rolling Stone last month, said that multiple disturbing incidents involving West took place over almost a decade. The letter stated that senior Adidas staffers knew of West’s “problematic behavior” but “turned their moral compass off.”
Before Adidas’ announcement, Balenciaga, CAA, Vogue and more big names revealed they were cutting ties with West as well.