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Thread: Annie Leibovitz - Photographer

  1. #1
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Default Annie Leibovitz - Photographer

    For Annie Leibovitz, a Fuzzy Financial Picture


    Annie Leibovitz' property in Greenwich Village

    IF money and fame are the yardsticks, Annie Leibovitz is one of the most successful photographers of all time. She has a seven-figure salary from Vanity Fair and commands tens of thousands of dollars a day from commercial clients like Louis Vuitton. Her latest book, “At Work,” made best-seller lists, and an exhibition of her classic images — Demi Moore naked and pregnant, Mikhail Baryshnikov on the beach — has been touring the world for over two years.

    So as the news has spread in recent months that Ms. Leibovitz is facing extraordinary financial troubles, with the possibility of losing her Civil War-era town houses in Greenwich Village, a home in upstate New York and the rights to decades of her work, many have formulated the same questions: How is this possible? How could an artist of her standing be in such financial straits? If Annie Leibovitz can’t make it in New York, who can?

    On July 29, Ms. Leibovitz was sued in State Supreme Court for nonpayment by a company that had lent her $24 million, and which demanded access to her homes so it could begin the process of selling them to satisfy her debt. Ms. Leibovitz had taken out the loan last year, pledging as collateral properties in Greenwich Village and in Rhinebeck, N.Y., her negatives and the rights to her photographs. The lender, Art Capital Group, claims Ms. Leibovitz is behind on hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid fees associated with the loans.

    The photographer, 59, declined to comment. Friends and colleagues said that despite her many successes, Ms. Leibovitz has been shadowed by a long history of less than careful financial dealings. Public records show that in the last two years, Ms. Leibovitz has faced tax liens of $1.4 million and two lawsuits claiming that she has not paid more than $700,000 in bills for photography services.

    “The mind that can take these extraordinary pictures is not necessarily the same mind that is a perfect money manager,” said Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair.

    A recent series of personal issues has made navigating her already complex life more difficult, close associates said. In the last five years, Ms. Leibovitz lost her father, her mother and her companion, Susan Sontag; added two children to her family and oversaw the costly and controversial renovation of three properties in Greenwich Village.

    Charlie Scheips, the former director of the Condé Nast photo archive who helped Ms. Leibovitz make a deal last year with an auction house to sell prints of her photographs, said that when he spoke to her recently, he was told: “I’m really under the gun. I’ve got three daughters, I lost my spouse. I’ve got too many jobs to do and it’s chaos.”

    Matthew Hiltzik, a spokesman for Ms. Leibovitz, pointed a finger at the lender suing Ms. Leibovitz, Art Capital Group, a company in New York with a history of litigation over its boutique loans to artists, art dealers and collectors, who pledge their art works as collateral. “Annie is in the same shoes as many other people involved with Art Capital,” Mr. Hiltzik said.
    The firm, with offices in a former Sotheby’s building on Madison Avenue, has been compared to a high-end pawn shop, and it has sued and been sued by a litany of clients and associates, including Julian Schnabel, its former lawyers and ex-employees.

    But all that would presumably have been known to Ms. Leibovitz before she turned to Art Capital in 2008 for a $22 million line of credit, which was later increased to $24 million. The full amount, plus interest and fees, is due Sept. 8, according to the lawsuit.

    The question is why she found herself needing that much cash. Mr. Hiltzik said his client had no comment.

    Friends and colleagues agree that it is not a taste for luxuries that has caused Ms. Leibovitz’s financial difficulties. Although well known for extravagant spending while on assignment, those expenses are paid by her employers.

    “Annie is not an expensive liver herself,” said Tina Brown, who edited Vanity Fair from 1984 to 1992, where Ms. Leibovitz began working after her early years at Rolling Stone magazine. “She hangs out with her kids. She doesn’t hang out in the lights at the parties.”

    In the 1970s, Ms. Leibovitz flew around the world chronicling rock ’n’ roll during its hedonistic heyday and accompanying hard-partying reporters like Hunter S. Thompson. She was notoriously bad with her expenses and was also known to give away expensive Minox cameras to anyone who said they admired hers.

    In “Life Through a Lens,” a documentary about Ms. Leibovitz directed by her sister Barbara Leibovitz, Jann Wenner, the founder of Rolling Stone, said that he thought her move to Vanity Fair in 1983 might be good for her because she was at her “peak drug use and was so irresponsible, was leaving rental cars everywhere and not turning things in on time.”

    Over the years at Vanity Fair, her shoots became more complex and expensive, often elaborate as movie shoots. “Month after month, it got a little bit more complicated with every shoot,” Jane Sarkin, a Vanity Fair features editor, said in the documentary. “Her demands became bigger. Fire, rain, cars airplanes, circus animals — whatever she wanted she got.”
    As Ms. Leibovitz became more famous and successful — she was hired by American Express, Gap and the Milk Board for prominent advertising campaigns— her business and personal life became more complicated.

    For years, she declined to speak publicly about her relationship with Ms. Sontag,the writer 16 years her senior. David Rieff, Ms. Sontag’s son, said that the relationship between the two women, who met in 1988, was “on again and off again.”

    Ms. Leibovitz purchased a penthouse apartment at the London Terrace complex in Chelsea in 1988, and from her balcony could see Ms. Sontag’s penthouse in the same complex. A photo of the view appeared in her 2006 book, “A Photographer’s Life.”

    Meanwhile, she was running a studio in a garage she owned in Chelsea, where she made many of her portraits. A close business associate, who asked not to be named so as to preserve the professional relationship, said that Ms. Leibovitz has been lax about keeping records of which studio expenses to bill to which client. In a 2008 book, Ms. Leibovitz admitted of the Chelsea studio: “We had too much equipment. Things were getting out of hand.”

    Ms. Leibovitz gave birth to her first child, Sarah Cameron Leibovitz, in 2001. Around the same time the photographer’s father, Samuel Leibovitz, became sick, and Ms. Sontag had a recurrence of cancer. Ms. Leibovitz spared no expense shuttling from magazine shoots in far-flung locales to hospital beds to see her father and Ms. Sontag, the business associate said.

    In 2005, 37 days after the death of Ms. Sontag, Ms. Leibovitz’s father also died. Three months later, on May 12, Ms. Leibovitz’s second and third children, twins, were born. In the documentary, Ms. Leibovitz is shown crying as she holds Ms. Sontag’s photo.

    There has been speculation on blogs and in news articles that Ms. Leibovitz’s financial problems arose because Ms. Sontag left her a large inheritance, with steep taxes due because the two women were unable to be legally wed.

    But Mr. Rieff, the executor of his mother’s estate, said that all Ms. Leibovitz received from Ms. Sontag were sentimental items.

    Meanwhile, Ms. Leibovitz was facing real estate expenses. She had bought two adjacent town houses in 2002 on West 11th Street for $4.15 million. During renovations, a neighbor sued her over a damaged wall. Historic preservationists picketed the renovations, holding signs saying, “Not a pretty picture.”

    The neighbor withdrew the suit when Ms. Leibovitz bought his town house, her third, for $1.87 million. She lives and works in two, and rents out the third. Ms. Leibovitz has recently taken on more commercial work, shooting Keith Richards, Sofia and Francis Ford Coppola, and a group of former astronauts for Louis Vuitton ads.

    A deal with the auction house Phillips de Pury to sell portfolios of some of her prints for $33,000 did not go as well as hoped, possibly because the first sale of the works took place in October 2008, just as the art market fell apart. Colleagues and close business associates of Ms. Leibovitz are of two minds about how she might escape her financial bind. Some assume her talent and earning power can bail her out. “If anybody has the ability put these debts away though work, she has the energy and the opportunity,” Mr. Carter said. “She has an infinite capacity for work.”

    But others said Ms. Leibovitz needs to reexamine her attitude and habits around money and spending.

    Jerrold Mundis, who has counseled well-known people with debt issues, and does not know Ms. Leibovitz, said, “Celebrity or even a spectacular talent doesn’t proof one against a problem with debt.”

    In its lawsuit, Art Capital alleges that Ms. Leibovitz was aware that her homes and intellectual property “would likely need to be sold in whole or in part” to satisfy her $24 million debt. It seeks to begin those sales before Ms. Leibovitz’s Sept. 8 deadline for full repayment.

    In fact, Art Capital appears to have been shopping the rights to Ms. Leibovitz’s photographs for several months. In a separate lawsuit the lender filed in State Supreme Court this April, it charged the photo agency Getty Images with going behind its back after it had begun talks over Ms. Leibovitz’s work.

    The suit states that Art Capital had been in talks with Getty over a sale of Ms. Leibovitz’s archive, valuing it at more than $50 million. Art Capital alleged it also offered Getty a chance to hire Ms. Leibovitz to take freelance assignments. The suit charged that Getty then went directly to Ms. Leibovitz and signed her for $1.1 million to do eight shoots over two years.

    In March, Getty announced in a press release that Ms. Leibovitz was “available for commission photography.”

    Art Capital charged that Getty’s signing of Ms. Leibovitz had made it difficult to sell her archive.

    On July 31, Justice Emily Jane Goodman denied Art Capital’s request for a preliminary injunction against the contract between Ms. Leibovitz and Getty. The judge dismissed parts of the lawsuit, but ruled that other issues would be decided later.

    Until now, Ms. Leibovitz has closely guarded the right to reproduce her photographs. But should she lose control of her archive, her famous portraits of Whoopi Goldberg, Jack Nicholson and the like may one day be found on postcards in Times Square.

  2. #2
    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    Default What a shame.

    She is such a nice person on a professional level but obviously she needs a more hard knuckled accountant.

  3. #3
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    Annie Leibovitz May Lose Debt-Saddled Property

    By Katya Kazakina
    August 13, 2009

    The former owners of two 19th-century homes in Manhattan's Greenwich Village said they regret selling them in 2002 to photographer Annie Leibovitz, who is in danger of losing the properties in a $24 million lawsuit.
    "Big mistake," said Jay Furman, who was part of a small investment group, FYH Village LLC, that owned adjoining three-story houses built in the 1830s. "It was a gorgeous building. It had original floors. The fireplaces were spectacular."

    Leibovitz embarked on extensive renovations of the buildings at 755-757 Greenwich St., which she planned to combine into a single 9,000-square-foot live-and-work space, according to documents filed with the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

    The renovations dragged on for years, igniting opposition by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and a $15 million lawsuit against Leibovitz by her next-door neighbor. In September 2003, Leibovitz settled the suit by buying the neighbor's building for $1.87 million.

    These three properties contributed to the "dire financial condition" that led her to seek a $24 million loan from Art Capital Group, which lends money using art as collateral, according to a lawsuit filed July 29 in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

    Leibovitz backed the loan with rights to her photographs, the Manhattan properties and a house in Rhinebeck, a leafy enclave about two hours north of New York, according to the suit. Art Capital, based in New York, is suing the photographer for breaching a contract that allows the company to sell the properties and photographs' copyrights even before she is due to repay the loan on Sept. 8, according to court papers.

    FYH Village bought the two properties in January 2001 for $3.3 million, according to records filed with New York City's Finance Department. In April 2002, the company sold them to Leibovitz for $4.15 million, Charles Yassky, another partner, said in a telephone interview.

    "It was such an unusual and charming property," Yassky said. "And being a developer in New York, you don't often come across something like that."

    Leibovitz, 59, is the creator of famous photographs, including a nude of John Lennon in a fetal position with Yoko Ono, and a portrait of a pregnant, naked Demi Moore published on the cover of Vanity Fair.

    Renovations to the West Village buildings went awry. In October 2002, cellar excavations, done without a work permit, undermined a shared wall with a neighboring house, according to a violation issued by the city's Department of Buildings. A chimney collapsed, filling the building with gas and forcing its owners to evacuate, said Andrew Berman, executive director of Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

    During the next year, the group complained about deterioration of the three structures, which were left exposed to the snow and rain, Berman said. On the first anniversary of the renovations, group members and local residents picketed outside the properties, with signs that read "Hit & Run Annie."

    The $6 million Leibovitz spent overall for the three red-brick, vine-covered houses, located across the street from a popular gastro-pub, the Spotted Pig, was only the start of her mounting costs.

    Exterior and interior work included a new roof, raising and propping up walls, fixing the facade, installing new doors and windows and making alterations to the garden, according to permits filed with the Department of Buildings and the landmarks commission.

    While the commission has to approve the exterior changes to historic buildings, owners typically have a free hand with the interiors.

    High-end interior renovations in New York can easily run into millions of dollars, with prices ranging from $450 to $1,200 per square foot, designers and contractors said.

    In June 2008, Leibovitz approached Art Capital Group in a "dire financial condition" arising from tax liens, mortgages and unpaid bills, the company said in its complaint.

    Three months later, the company's affiliate, American Photography, gave Leibovitz a $5 million mortgage, according to the filings with the finance department. The mortgage was part of the $22 million credit line Art Capital extended to her, according to court filings.

    In December 2008, she asked Art Capital for another $2 million and a lower interest rate, the court documents show. The same month, Leibovitz consolidated various loans into an aggregate $15.6 million mortgage from American Photography, according to the city's finance department. That mortgage is part of the $24 million loan.

    In return, Leibovitz signed an agreement making the firm an "irrevocable, exclusive agent" for the sale of her works and property for the loan's length and for two years after she pays it off, according to the complaint.

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    Leibovitz’s $40 Million Astor Barns, Townhouses Might Ease Debt

    By Katya Kazakina

    Aug. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz’s New York real estate, used to back a $24 million loan from Art Capital Group and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., could be valued at more than four times her purchase price, or as much as $40 million, according to property brokers.
    Whether the appreciation of the real estate, in Manhattan and upstate New York, will offer the photographer a path out of her financial troubles is unclear.

    Leibovitz, 59, has to repay her creditors by Sept. 8, according to a suit Art Capital filed in New York State Supreme Court on July 29.

    The New York-based firm, which provides loans with art as collateral, claims in the suit that Leibovitz breached an agreement that allows the company to sell her real estate and catalog of photographs, also used as collateral, before Sept. 8. The lender has valued the catalog at more than $50 million.

    Such sales would bring Art Capital commissions on the sums realized, while Leibovitz would get the balance and still have to pay off the loan plus $2.9 million interest and other fees.

    Art Capital would get a 10 percent commission from the sale of Leibovitz’s real estate and 15 percent from the sale of her artworks, according to Montieth Illingworth, the company’s spokesman. If she defaults on the loan, Art Capital is entitled to a 25 percent commission, including as much as 13 percent for fees.

    “Annie is continuing to work to resolve the situation, so any comment would be inappropriate at this time,” said Leibovitz’s spokesman, Matthew Hiltzik.
    Astor Estate

    In 1996, Leibovitz paid $2.3 million for 220 acres in the Hudson Valley hamlet of Rhinebeck, said appraiser Pete Hubbell, president of Hubbell Realty Services Inc. It was once part of the Astor family’s 3,500-acre estate, called Ferncliff. In 2002, Leibovitz paid $635,000 for an adjacent 7.8-acre parcel, the Dutchess County records show.

    The property includes a pond, a mix of meadows and woodlands, stone barns and a former creamery. Others with homes in the area include financier George Soros, hotelier Andre Balazs, and Rolling Stone magazine’s publisher, Jann Wenner, Hubbell said.

    “It’s a sleepy little town and no one pays attention to celebrities,” said Steve Mann, former president of the Museum of Rhinebeck History. “That’s why they like to come to Rhinebeck.”

    Hubbell, who has appraised the Leibovitz property, said it could be worth $4 to $6 million in today’s market. Rhinebeck’s official appraiser pegged the value at $5 million, according to a 2009 Dutchess county tax report.
    “I can see it getting $10 million,” said Harry Hill, a local resident and principal broker of H.H. Hill Realty Services. “She did a first-class restoration. The barns are unbelievably beautiful.”

    Stone Barn

    Leibovitz restored a stone barn complex designed in 1918 by architect Harrie T. Lindeberg, according to “Rhinebeck: Portrait of a Town,” by Sari Brewster Tietjen.

    The Astor provenance also adds value, said Hill. The barns used to be a winter refuge for 375 Angus bulls, according to Brooke Astor’s autobiography “Footprints.” Her husband Vincent Astor bred and sold them for as much as $300,000 each. He proposed to Brooke in Ferncliff and wooed her with a cattle-call horn and a ride on his miniature railway.

    Leibovitz’s houses in Manhattan’s West Village are also historic. Built in the 1830s, they are designated as landmarks. The estimated value of the three Greek Revival brownstones could be $30 million, said brokers who specialize in the area.

    “In today’s real-estate market, newly renovated townhouses in the West Village have recently traded at approximately $2,000 per square foot,” said Peter McCuen of Peter McCuen and Associates Inc., a real-estate firm that is currently selling condos in artist Julian Schnabel’s Palazzo Chupi, down the street from the photographer.

    Unique Features

    Given the Leibovitz compound’s unique features, including one corner building, a courtyard and about 60 feet facing Greenwich Street, “a value of approximately $2,500 per square foot is plausible,” McCuen added.
    With about 12,000 square feet among the three buildings, according to city records, the property could fetch from $24 million to $30 million.

    “It’s not going to sell in a week,” said Jill Bane, who specializes in West Village townhouses at Leslie J. Garfield & Co. “There are only a couple of hundred people I can call. Actually, maybe only a hundred.”

    Leibovitz bought 755-757 Greenwich Street for $4.15 million in 2002 and embarked on extensive renovations, including plans to combine the houses into a single 9,000-square-foot living- and-work space, according to documents filed with the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

    Sparking Opposition

    The renovations dragged on for years, igniting opposition by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and a $15 million lawsuit against Leibovitz by her next-door neighbor. In September 2003, Leibovitz settled the suit by buying the neighbor’s building for $1.87 million.

    Actress Julianne Moore, who lives a few doors down from Leibovitz, has her historic, renovated brownstone on the market for almost $12 million, or about $2,445 a square foot.

    While it’s possible to rebuild the combined houses into individual structures, they may be more valuable as whole, Bane said.

    “You can buy 20-foot townhouses all over the place,” she said. “Where else will you get a historic building 60 feet wide in the West Village? Nowhere.”

  5. #5
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    west village


    ugh, i'm just glad the scaffolding is down around those townhouses. it was an eyesore for way too long.

    i saw her walking around by there a couple days ago. wasnt 100% sure it was her because she has such a generic downtown nyc artsy village old lady look, until after i walked by her some other people said, "hey that annie leibovitz." generally i love her work. im sure she'll get herself out of this pickle, the rich always land on their feet.

  6. #6


    Quote Originally Posted by meesalikeu View Post
    wasnt 100% sure it was her because she has such a generic downtown nyc artsy village old lady look

  7. #7
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    Oct 2002


    Photographer Annie Leibovitz's lifework is on the line

    As the famed celebrity photographer faces the loss of her photos, observers see a portrait of unfocused finances. .

    By Paul Lieberman reporting from new york city >>>

    September 5, 2009

    Annie Leibovitz had two goals for a proposed series of her famous celebrity photographs, enlarged to 5 feet tall, at a price of $25,000 each.

    For starters, "She said she would like to make more money," recalled Fifth Avenue gallery owner Edwynn Houk, who devised the plan with her before she took it to an auction house that staged a London exhibition last year with even higher prices for the jumbo photos -- $33,000.

    But beyond the bottom line, Leibovitz was intent on solidifying the status of her photos as fine art, Houk said. At those prices, buyers would have to be interested in more than the celebrities: "They were collecting the work of Annie Leibovitz."

    That Leibovitz wanted to control how her work is positioned is hardly a surprise. She's the master of the setup shot, the conceptual cover -- meticulously positioning her subjects, whether it's a nude John Lennon wrapped around his wife, Yoko Ono, or Demi Moore, nude and pregnant, Steve Martin as part of a Franz Kline painting, or heads of state such as President Bill Clinton, whom she tried in vain to talk into posing while smoking a cigar in the Oval Office. That's how she's come to define modern celebrity portrait photography during her decades shooting cover photos for Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair and Vogue.

    But the 59-year-old Leibovitz soon could lose control of her life's work, for the very reason she needed money, and fast.

    Leibovitz faces a Tuesday deadline to repay a $24-million loan from a New York art-finance company. Art Capital Group advanced her that sum last year after the photographer, in "dire financial condition," as court papers put it, posted as collateral basically everything she owns -- not only her two homes but "every photographic image ever taken by Ms. Leibovitz," according to the lender.

    She isn't the first creative person to mortgage intellectual property. Lennon and fellow Beatle Paul McCartney dealt their song publishing rights and pop star Michael Jackson, who bought them, later used their catalog, and his own hits, to secure more than $200 million in loans. Representatives of singer David Bowie reaped $55 million for him in 1997 by turning the revenue stream from his old songs and recording masters into bonds -- "Bowie Bonds," they're called.

    Meanwhile art collectors, galleries and artists themselves have embraced ways short of selling to convert the framed beauty on their walls into liquidity. Artist-director Julian Schnabel used a Picasso he owned for 20 years to secure financing to develop top-of-the-line condos in Greenwich Village.

    Even the esteemed Metropolitan Opera in essence hocked the Chagall murals in the lobby at Lincoln Center, using them as collateral for a $35-million loan.

    But Leibovitz's deal with Art Capital goes well beyond such arrangements. It could result in the outright sale of her photo copyrights to a party who might decide it's better to market her images in lots of 1,000, or on postcards, not the fine-art limited-edition approach she has embraced.

    Art Capital says it secured one more thing for its largesse -- the "irrevocable right" to serve as her exclusive agent through the loan period and two years after, meaning it would negotiate photo shoots she does outside her contracted ones for Vanity Fair and get a cut of her newly created work too.

    Leibovitz signed the deal with "sophisticated counsel," the company says in a lawsuit, but which she since has tried to sabotage, notably by entering a separate representation arrangement with the photo agency Getty Images, which was going to pay her $1.1 million for eight assignments. That generated another suit by Art Capital, against Getty.

    The litigation has placed a spotlight on the pressures facing the 6-foot-tall photographer, who is juggling multimillion-dollar mortgages on her triple town house-studio in Greenwich Village and her 200-acre Astor Barns country estate up the Hudson River, and more than $2 million in tax liens and unpaid bills.

    Leibovitz is not talking, but supporters say she did not realize what she was signing away; like many creative sorts, she is less than focused on pocketbook matters. "Artists like her generally don't do it for the money," said Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter. "If they did they'd be working for AIG . . . "

    Those close to Leibovitz say it's not like her to relinquish authority over how the world sees the images she orchestrates, whether Whoopi Goldberg posed in a tub of milk or Chris Rock in whiteface.

    "Annie is the most successful artist in the history of photography," Carter said. "That does not happen by accident. And she is nothing if not controlling when it comes to her work."

    No precedent

    Experts in marketing intellectual property see no close precedent to the Leibovitz deal because of how it combines as collateral her real property and intellectual property, not to mention her future work. The pioneering deals crafted for music figures such as Bowie and soul legend James Brown covered only past work, not new albums or tours -- and Brown, for one, was careful to maintain control over how his songs were used, ruling out commercials for alcohol.

    With music figures, recordings and music publishing had a long pattern of generating income, so a cash flow could be projected for coming years. That was used to calculate the lump-sum payouts, $30 million in Brown's case, raised through bonds created by Wharton business school graduate David Pullman.

    In Bowie's case, several factors -- including estate planning to benefit his heirs -- prompted him to "securitize" future royalties from the 24 albums he had released by 1997, according to his business manager, Bill Zysblat. Zysblat, who also represents Sting, crafted a similar deal for a record label that wanted to turn future income from master recordings into immediate funds to sign new artists. An aging movie producer did the same with his catalog of films after simply deciding it was "better to have the cash today," he said.

    But, Zysblat said, "We've never done a deal with someone who was desperate for money."

    Leibovitz reached that state during a wrenching decade during which she lost both her parents and her leukemia-stricken companion, Susan Sontag. Leibovitz became a single mother of three daughters, the last two, twins, born to a surrogate. She also bought the West Village properties that proved a migraine headache even by New York fixer-upper standards

    She paid $4.15 million in 2002 for two adjoining red brick houses dating from the 1830s that she was going to transform into 9,000 square feet of living and studio space. Then a wall sagged as contractors expanded a cramped basement, leading to a $15-million lawsuit by neighbors and stoppage of work for a year. Leibovitz eventually purchased the neighbors' town home as well.

    Despite Leibovitz's salary from Conde Nast, her work on ad campaigns for the likes of American Express and her book and photo sales, she was looking at mounting debts, IRS tax liens and lawsuits by a lighting company and stylist. Friends insisted she was not so much a spendthrift as generous, paying an aging maid merely to cook breakfast.

    "She's a person about her work and her family . . . it's not the money," said sister Paula Leibovitz, a lawyer in the Bay area. A documentary by another sister, Barbara, "Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens," points out that Annie was rewarded for ignoring budgets on the job, and ordering up fire, rain or circus animals for her high-concept shoots.

    "I can't say that photographing celebrities didn't change my sister's viewpoint," mused a third sister, artist Susan Leibovitz Steinman, in the documentary.

    "You do start to think you're living that life," said Annie Leibovitz herself.

    An art financier

    Art Capital Group disdains suggestions it is a "high-end pawnshop." Spokesman Montieth Illingworth says the firm is "an art market financier" more comfortable than traditional lenders with accepting art as collateral.

    According to its complaint filed July 29 in New York State Supreme Court, Leibovitz approached the firm in June 2008, and was granted $22 million in credit, from which she initially drew $5 million. In December the credit line was increased to $24 million, with a lower interest rate -- and Leibovitz took the entire sum. That's when the company insisted on serving as her exclusive agent, with its commissions increasing -- to 25% (including costs) on sale of her photo copyrights -- if she defaults on the loan.

    With the clock ticking toward her Tuesday deadline to repay the $24 million, plus interest, there are a few notes of cautious optimism. Attorneys for Leibovitz just this week obtained more time, until Oct. 1, to reply to the Art Capital lawsuit. (Though the deadline to repay still applies.)

    "They're having discussions . . . to resolve things," said Leibovitz's spokesman, Matthew Hiltzik.

    Zysblat, the A-list music manager, said financiers normally lend, at most, half the real worth of assets such as Leibovitz's, meaning her photos and homes could bring in $50 million or more. "She's doing OK," he said.

    "She's not worried about eating," agreed Pullman. He is a fan of Leibovitz, counting her surreal shot of rocker David Byrne, in a jacket made of leaves, as his first art purchase.

    Pullman views her as the rare photographer with potential to create an income stream through mass licensing, in the manner of '60s pop art sensation Peter Max or Andy Warhol, provided the people she photographed assent to seeing their images on scarves or ties.

    But Vanity Fair's editor, Carter, says his star photographer has more high-brow role models. "She said recently that photographers never retire. She mentioned Steichen and Cartier-Bresson, who worked into their 90s. And Irving Penn, over 90, who's still working."

    So if Carter's magazine was pondering a story on her, what sort of cover photo -- of herself -- might she suggest?

    Well, it's not Annie Leibovitz naked, with a barrel around her, in front of those money-eating town houses. Think grand, even by martyr standards. "I can see her posing," he said, "as Joan of Arc or St. Sebastian.",6842384.story

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    Oh snap! Photographer Annie Leibovitz sued by Paolo Pizzetti, must repay Art Capital Group loan

    BY Catey Hill

    September 8th 2009

    She's one of the most renowned photographers in the world, having snapped pictures of many of the most famous celebrities of our time from John Lennon to Demi Moore to Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise. She's published several popular books of her work. She's got a lucrative contract with Vanity Fair. And she's made millions upon millions of dollars during her career.

    But now? Annie Leibovitz is in serious money trouble and facing a copyright lawsuit.

    Leibovitz could lose the rights to all of her photographs - as well as her four homes - if she does not pay back a $24 million loan by Tuesday.

    In 2008, Leibovitz took out the $24M loan with Art Capital Group, and used her homes - three townhouses in New York City's Greenwich Village neighborhood and one in Rheinbeck, New York - and the rights to her current and future work as collateral. Art Capital Group sued Leibovitz in July for breach of contract, claiming that she blocked the company from selling her photographs, BBC News reported.

    "We have clear contractual rights and will protect them in any scenario," ACG spokesman Montieth Illingworth told the Associated Press.

    Leibovitz 's spokesman, Matthew Hiltzik, told BBC News that Leibovitz 's "attention remains on her photography and on continuing to organize her finances".

    Well, now she's got something else to pay attention to: a lawsuit.

    Italian photographer Paolo Pizzetti sued Leibovitz for roughly $300K for copyright infringement, claiming that she tried to pass of his photos for her own.

    The photos were of Venice and Rome and were used in a 2009 calendar for a coffee company, the Daily Mail reported.

  9. #9
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    Agreement Gives Leibovitz More Time to Repay Loans


    In a 13th-hour agreement on Friday, the photographer Annie Leibovitz avoided having to give up her homes and her artistic property to the finance company that had lent her $24 million. But all she may have won is time.

    The Art Capital Group, which specializes in loans secured by artwork, had given Ms. Leibovitz a $24 million one-year loan that was due on Tuesday. As collateral, she pledged the rights to all of her intellectual property, including her photographs, as well as three adjoining town houses in Greenwich Village and a home in Rhinebeck, N.Y.

    On Friday, three days after the deadline, Ms. Leibovitz and Art Capital announced that they had reached an agreement on a loan extension.

    Ms. Leibovitz, 59, perhaps the most famous and best-compensated living photographer, has been enduring a well-chronicled and much-puzzled-over financial meltdown.

    As part of the loan agreement, Ms. Leibovitz gave Art Capital the right to act as her agent in selling her archive of photos, including her negatives, and her homes, according to legal documents.

    The company sued Ms. Leibovitz in July, claiming that she was blocking its efforts to prepare her homes and photos for sale, and was not paying loan-related fees. On Sept. 1, her lawyers won a one-month extension to respond to the lawsuit. As part of the agreement, Art Capital withdrew its suit.

    In a joint statement the two sides said that Ms. Leibovitz had “purchased from Art Capital its rights to act as exclusive agent in the sale of her real property and copyrights” and that she will “therefore retain control of those assets within the context of the loan agreement.” The property and copyrights remain as collateral.

    Throughout her financial difficulties, Ms. Leibovitz has said little publicly. On Friday she spoke only through the joint statement, which quoted her as saying, “In these challenging times I am appreciative to Art Capital for all they have done to resolve this matter and for their cooperation and continued support.”

    But legal experts said her troubles were not over.

    “If the original loan term was a year, typically the extension could be as short as 30 days or it could be a year,” said Eliot Zuckerman, a real estate lawyer in Manhattan who is not involved with either party.

    To win the extension, Ms. Leibovitz might have agreed to sell something valuable quickly, like the rights to some photographs or a home, or to pay more interest.

    “The great likelihood is she had to demonstrate to them how she is going to come up with the money and how soon she is going to come up with the money,” Mr. Zuckerman said. “Of course there could have been an interest rate increase as well.”

    Friends said yesterday that Ms. Leibovitz had the tenacity to figure out a way to pay off her loan this time, but that she might have to change her relationship to money fundamentally.

    “Is she scrappy enough to pull this out?” said Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair. “Absolutely. I’d never count Annie out on anything.”

  10. #10
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002


    That exterior is to die for <sigh>

    Inside Annie Leibovitz's $33M Greenwich Street Compound

    by Sara Polsky

    The news hit yesterday that photographer Annie Leibovitz was listing her three West Village townhouses for $33 million, and now the official listing is online, complete with photos we've imported to the gallery above. There is no floorplan, unfortunate for those curious about how Leibovitz designed a compound out of three unconnected townhouses (square footage total: 10,200). Happily, there is Paula Del Nunzio brokerbabble, which certainly gives the flavor. Here's an excerpt for 757 Greenwich Street, the living space of Leibovitz's compound:

    Entering directly into the living room, the soaring ceilings, twin wood-burning fireplaces, and wide plank floors create a stunning living and entertaining space. Two doors at the rear of living room lead to the formal dining room while a third leads to a beautiful chef's kitchen overlooking the slate patio and West 11th Street private courtyard. There is a main stair leading up to the private levels and a second rear stair from the kitchen leading to a guest triplex equipped with a kitchen and living room on the second floor and a bedroom and full bath on the third floor, flooded with southern light. The third floor master suite includes a large front bedroom featuring a wood-burning fireplace, several closets including a large walk-in, and a windowed full bath. The rear of the master suite is a large den with wood-burning fireplace, opening onto a sun room. From the den a separate doorway leads to 755 Greenwich, directly into the studio.

    755 Greenwich Street, another of Leibovitz's buildings, is set up as a studio. The parlor floor "is entirely open to the rear wall with incredibly high ceilings. Configured as a large workstation and reception room, there are two wood-burning fireplaces and the rear windows overlook the private West 11th Street courtyard and flood the parlour floor with sunlight throughout the day." The third floor has workspace and an office/library. From the basement (which also contains a kitchen) there's access back to 757 Greenwich and to the courtyard. It might be tough to find a buyer interested in this exact layout of the space, but it sounds rather incredible.

    Listing: 755 Greenwich Street [BHS]

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