By Andrew Chung
(Reuters) - A renowned celebrity photographer is suing Rod Stewart and Caesars Entertainment for $2.5 million, accusing them of copying her famous photo of the rocker and his unmistakable spiked mullet to promote his Las Vegas show and world tour.
Bonnie Schiffman, who has snapped pictures of celebrities including Michael Jackson, Muhammad Ali, Steven Spielberg and Andy Warhol, said Stewart, Caesars and several others replicated her 1981 photo without permission or paying her, according to a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles federal court on Thursday.
The photograph was used as the cover of Stewart's multi-platinum 1989 greatest hits album, "Storyteller."
"It has a powerful punch for the millions of fans that know that album," said Schiffman's attorney, William Hochberg. "We think that’s why they're using it."
Representatives for the 69-year-old Stewart could not be reached for comment. A spokeswoman for Caesars said the company does not comment on pending litigation.
The Caesars image is not the exact one captured by Schiffman, but both show Stewart and his tousled spiky hair from the back. Hochberg said that could still be called infringement.
"It's a rip off of the photo my client took," he said.
Stewart and his handlers offered Schiffman $1,500 in 2013 to use her image for a billboard, but she balked at the low figure, the suit said.
Later, Schiffman claimed, a replicated version of the image was being used for the singer's Caesars Palace residency and world tour, including in the shows themselves.
"Defendants have not only turned their back on Plaintiff," the complaint said, "but also on the law."
Schiffman, who is based in Los Angeles, is also seeking punitive damages and an order to stop the defendants from using the image.
The case is Bonnie Schiffman v. Rod Stewart, Stewart Annoyances Ltd, The Stiefel Office Ltd, Anschultz Entertainment Group Inc, and Caesars Entertainment Corp, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Western Division, No. 14-cv-6901.
(Reporting By Andrew Chung; Editing by Ted Botha and Tom Brown)