Annie Leibovitz to lose rights to her photographs

05 August 2009

Annie Leibovitz is the highest-paid photographer in the world. She demands a $3 million salary from Vanity Fair, for whom she shoots the majority of their cover stars, faces that have included President Obama, Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney and almost every major movie star you can think of. So it is with surprise that the media and art world has learned that Leibovitz has six weeks to raise $24 million, or she might lose her homes and the rights to every photograph she's ever taken. And considering those photos include a naked and very pregnant Demi Moore and the last professional picture ever taken of John Lennon – just five hours before he was murdered – it is a very profitable collection. But it could end up in the hands of Art Capital Group, a US firm that lends against an artist's work. Leibovitz borrowed a total of $24 million over five months last year, secured against her three New York homes, an estate outside the city and the rights to her work. Unfortunately, at the end of July, Art Capital filed a lawsuit against the photographer over non-payment of the debt, demanding access to her NY homes so they could begin moves to sell them before the repayment deadline of 8 September. As yet, Leibovitz has not commented, but she does have many friends in high places who could step in to help. Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter said, ‘The mind that can take these extraordinary pictures is not necessarily the same mind that is a perfect money manager.' But he also added that if any photographer had the work ethic and ability to get out of debt, it was Leibovitz. Let's hope he's right, as this isn't the legacy we want her to leave.


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