TikTok agent Ariadna Jacob, who represents stars like Charli D’Amelio and other online influencers, have slapped The New York Times and its reporter Taylor Lorenz with a $6.2 million defamation lawsuit.
Filed in the US Southern District of New York, the lawsuit claims that an August 2020 article by Lorenz contained “numerous false and disparaging statements” about Jacob and her businesses, including an accusation that she leaked nude images of one of her clients to “manipulate him.”
A rep for the New York Times said: “Ms. Jacob’s main complaint is that The New York Times gave voice to young people who felt they had been mistreated by her. It’s troubling that she has turned to litigation to try to silence those who criticize her business practices. We plan to defend against the suit vigorously.”
Lorenz did not return requests for comment.
Jacob started leasing out spaces in the mansions of Los Angeles to some of her clients, giving them a place to crash while they created viral videos. The suit alleged that Jacob jacked up the rent on tenants who lived in her influencer house, “Kids Next Door,” and that Lorenz’s story exposed the agent’s business practices and relationships with influencers — claiming that they were harassed over covering rent, not getting paid for their work and getting pressured to produce content daily.
Known as the TikTok agent for influencer marketing, Jacob is CEO of Influences, a company she started in 2018 that managed as many as 85 TikTok stars and worked with brands including Mastercard and Universal Music Group. Her TikTok influencers included Brittany Tomlinson, Addison Easterling and Charli and Dixie D’Amelio.
Some of those clients have tens of millions of followers on the platform, and five of them have been included on Forbes’ highest-earning TikTok creators list.
Marcus Olin, a member of Kids Next Door who lived in the house leased by Jacob, told The Times that he and his fellow creators feared getting sued by Jacob if they did not adhere to the content creation quotas that Jacob had mandated.
“We were expecting a quota where we could pay our half of rent through brand deals. But we weren’t getting enough deals to cover our half of rent,” Olin told The Times, adding that he had unsuccessfully tried to be released from his contract. “Anytime talent wants to leave, she goes straight to suing them,” he said in the interview.
Another creator, Tomlinson, known on social as Brittany Broski, filed a state labor complaint earlier this week, stating that Jacob withheld more than $23,000 from her. Tomlinson told Lorenz that Jacob tries to “lock” creators into her contracts. Her complaint also claimed that Jacob demanded up to 20 percent in commission.
Jacob denied all of the claims about her in Lorenz’s article.
In the lawsuit, Jacob said that after the article was published, she lost all 85 of her TikTok clients and the money that was tied to their contracts. She claims she spent tens of thousands of dollars of legal fees.
Jacob said that since Lorenz’s article ran, she has been fired by all of her clients and that she has had difficulty approaching new talent and that major brands stopped doing business with her firm.
Jacob told entertainment trade publication TheWrap, which first broke the news of the lawsuit, that she hasn’t recovered any money that she claims her clients owe her.
“After the New York Times article, I was radioactive in my industry,” Jacob told TheWrap. “People believed Taylor’s lies that I stole from clients, leaked revenge porn, filmed young people without consent and pretended to be friends with social media God Gary Vaynerchuk, someone who’s actually been a close friend and advocate of mine for over 10 years.”
“I spent every last penny,” Jacob said. “It was overnight, I went from all these people I invested in, for months and much longer, and now being told they should not work with me in Hollywood.”
Court papers also detailed how Jacob sought out mental health treatment and experienced suicidal thoughts following the article’s publication. She also left California and relocated to Las Vegas in order to “seek new careers and business ventures,” the suit said.