7 of the worst celebrity tattoos of all time, from Chris Brown to Ariana Grande
Whenever a celebrity shows off a new tattoo, we’re always interested to see what kind of artwork or words of wisdom they’ve chosen to permanently ink on their skin.
Recently, Brooklyn Beckham revealed his latest tattoo, which is yet another tribute to his wife, Nicola Peltz.
The permanent artwork shows a large black-and-white portrait of Peltz on his upper arm, inked onto the 23-year-old by artist Mark Mahoney.
Beckham revealed that he began getting tattoos in honour of his wife soon after they started dating and he has amassed “over 20 dedicated to her”.
While not every tattoo carries symbolism, many celebrities have ink that pays tribute to a loved one or a role that has stayed with them.
However, not everybody gets a tattoo worthy of admiration. Ugly artwork, massive cover-ups and well-intended phrases that got lost in translation can sometimes crop up.
From Chris Brown to Ariana Grande to Ben Affleck, we’ve rounded up the five most controversial celebrity tattoos.
In 2012, Chris Brown debuted a neck tattoo that appeared to resemble a woman with half her face covered in bruises.
The ink quickly drew backlash as it came four years after the singer was charged with assaulting Rihanna, who is his ex-girlfriend.
Brown received five years probation and a community service order for the assault.
His tattoo was sharply criticised by fans, with some describing it as depicting a “battered woman” and in “poor taste”.
However, Brown’s representative insisted it was not a tattoo of a bruised woman, nor did it represent Rihanna.
They said in a statement: “His tattoo is a sugar skull (associated with the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead) and a MAC cosmetics design he saw. It is not Rihanna or an abused woman as erroneously reported.”
Ariana Grande has a number of small tattoos inked all over her body, but in 2019, she got a palm tattoo that quickly became the subject of mockery.
The singer had the phrase “7 rings” tattooed in Japanese characters on her palm, to celebrate her 2019 single of the same name achieving huge success.
She shared a photograph of the new ink on her official Japanese Twitter account. But fans were quick to point out that the phrase had been spelt incorrectly, and instead of reading “7 rings”, it translated to “shichirin”, which is a small charcoal barbecue grill.
— アリアナ・グランデ JP公式 (@ariana_japan) January 30, 2019
Grande attempted to fix the tattoo by adding additional symbols to change the meaning. However, the tattoo still read strangely, as Japanese can be read from left to right or in vertical columns.
This meant that the tattoo had different translations depending on which direction it is being read. One potential translation of her altered tattoo was “Japanese barbecue finger”.
The son of Victoria and David Beckham loves wearing his heart on his sleeve, particularly with regards to his wife, Nicola Peltz.
Brooklyn has numerous tattoos dedicated to the Transformers star, including his most recent portrait of her on his arm. However, one of his tribute tattoos is somewhat unnerving.
The 23-year-old has a large photorealistic tattoo of Peltz’s eyes on the back of his neck. In January 2021, he added to the piece by tattooing a love letter that she wrote to him, calling him her “forever boy”.
Ben Affleck must have a very high pain threshold, because in 2016, he sported a new, massive back tattoo of a phoenix rising from the ashes.
The multi-coloured tattoo covered the entirety of his back, starting from the nape of his neck to the top of his left buttock.
Fans were quick to dub it his “mid-life crisis” tattoo, as it appeared after Affleck split up from Jennifer Garner after 10 years of marriage.
Initially, Affleck denied that the tattoo was real and claimed it was “fake for a movie”. However, two years later, he owned up to it in a hilariously snarky response to an article in The New Yorker that carried the headline: “The Great Sadness of Ben Affleck.”
Last Saturday, almost exactly two years after Ben Affleck denied its existence, the back tattoo returned to haunt the headlines, itself a phoenix rising from the ashes of gossip rags past. https://t.co/wItYWWlb5I
— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) March 29, 2018
In response to the publication’s tweet about the article, the Batman star said he was doing “just fine” and had “thick skin bolstered by garish tattoos”.
That didn’t stop his new wife – and old flame – Jennifer Lopez from calling it “awful” in an old interview that resurfaced shortly after the pair rekindled their relationship.
Lopez said in a 2016 appearance on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen: “It’s awful! I mean, I would tell him that. I would tell him like, ‘What are you doing?’ It has too many colours. His tattoos always have too many colours.”
Just days before his model wife Jennifer Flavin filed for divorce after 25 years of marriage in August 2022, Sylvester Stallone decided to cover up a tattoo portrait of her with one of his late dog, Butkus.
The Rocky star’s tattoo of Flavin’s face was quite large and covered his shoulder and part of his bicep. But a photograph of him having it covered up with a portrait of Butkus instead sparked rumours that his marriage was on the rocks.
It appears that the cover-up was also an unhappy outcome, as Stallone’s representative told the Daily Mail that while the actor “intended to refresh the tattoo image of his wife”, the results were “unsatisfactory and, unfortunately, unfixable”.
Stallone also addressed speculation that his marriage ended over an argument over his new dog. He had recently purchased a new rottweiler named Dwight.
He told TMZ: “We did not end the relationship on such a trivial argument. We just went in different directions. I have the highest respect for Jennifer. I will always love her. She’s an amazing woman. She’s the nicest human being I’ve ever met.”
After beating several chart records that were previously held by The Beatles in 2018 and 2019, Drake decided to commemorate the achievement by getting an Abbey Road-inspired tattoo.
However, he added a fifth member to the band – himself. The tattoo shows John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr as they were depicted on their famous album, but leading the quartet is a depiction of Drake waving.
The artwork was slated by fans of The Beatles, some of whom branded it as “tacky” and “arrogant” to depict himself leading the band.
The tattoo isn’t Drake’s first diss towards the band, whose music still remains popular today. In his appearance on Meek Mill’s 2019 song “Going Bad”, Drake sings: “I got more slaps than The Beatles.”
During his intense, whirlwind romance with Kim Kardashian, Saturday Night Live (SNL) comedian Pete Davidson got several tattoos dedicated to her inked on his body.
One tattoo appeared to be a nod to how the pair met, while performing sketches on SNL. One of the sketches saw them play Aladdin and Jasmine, during which they shared an on-screen kiss. In July, Davidson was seen with a small tattoo with the words “Jasmine” and “Aladdin” with an infinity sign between them.
He also got the words “my girl is a lawyer” inked on his left clavicle, in reference to Kardashian passing California’s first-year law students’ exam, known as the “baby bar” in March 2022.
Fans also believe Davidson got a “Kim” tattoo on his chest, after her ex-husband Kanye West posted screenshots of text messages that he allegedly exchanged with the comedian.
But Davidson and Kardashian’s relationship came to an abrupt end after nine months of dating, with the pair officially calling it quits in August.
In January, it was reported that Davidson had removed all of his tattoos that were dedicated to Kardashian. He was pictured shirtless while on a trip to Hawaii, sans the 2my girl is a lawyer” and “Jasmine and Aladdin” tattoos.