Photog Leibovitz Stands to Lose Life’s Work


New York, N.Y.—Photographer Annie Leibovitz, best known for her large portfolio of celebrity prints, could lose the rights to that portfolio and future works if she fails to pay back a loan on time.

The rights to Leibovitz’s entire portfolio, as well as intellectual property rights and real estate assets, are collateral in a suit brought by the Art Capital Group, a financial and consulting service provider that works with artists and gallery owners. Leibovitz borrowed $24 million from Art Capital in February to pay off previous debts. Art Capital has also asked for an unspecified amount of damages for what it claims is a breach of contract.

Since the celebrity photographer failed to meet a September 8 deadline, Art Capital could stand to sell the rights to all of her photos, as well as homes in Manhattan and upstate New York, to recoup their losses. The photographs alone are said to be worth $50 million, with the homes not far behind at a combined $40 million.

Art Capital is filing suit against Leibovitz for breaking her contract, which they claim allows them to be “the ‘irrevocable exclusive agent’” of her work “in exchange for a reduced interest rate on the loan.” However, they also claim that Leibovitz has “refused to cooperate in the sale of those assets.”

A lawyer at Phillips Nizer, a Manhattan lawfirm, says the deadline is not the end of the story. Instead, most of the negotiating in deals like this begins after the deadline has lapsed. These negotiations will determine how the suit is settled. “It’s only when those negotiations fail that someone like Annie Leibovitz would turn to a bankruptcy,” Helen Davis Chaitman explained.

Leibotvitz’s attorney, Steven Brawer, told CNN, “I don’t have anything I can tell you.”

Leibovitz, known for her provocative photos of celebrities, has photographed everyone from John Lennon and Yoko Ono to Queen Elizabeth II. Her photos have appeared in magazines and art galleries throughout the world. She is perhaps most famous for her many Vanity Fair covers, the most scandalous of which captured a naked Demi Moore in the late stages of pregnancy.

Most recently, her photos of Disney Channel star Miley Cyrus wearing nothing but a bedsheet stirred the pot of public controversy. Some claimed she pressured the teen into posing for the extremely provocative pictures.


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