For as long as I’ve lived and worked in NYC, there have been rumors suggesting the financial difficulties of Annie Leibovitz. As a young assistant, I had first hand experience with this. In the late 1980s I worked for her as a freelance photo assistant on a shoot for Vanity Fair Magazine. The job went without a hitch and was eventually published. It was a wonderful experience to work for such a legend. Collecting my fee was a different story. After 45 days with no check in hand, I called her studio asking when I would receive payment. They gave me the number of her accounting firm. When I contacted them they indicated that they had not yet been paid. After a couple of months of getting nowhere, I call the magazine directly. They explained that Ms. Leibovitz receives a monthly check from Conde Nast and that they had paid her for the job I worked on months ago. I eventually received my check,which amounted a few hundred dollars. I’m not surprised to see the latest article in The New York Times which I have included below.
I have also attached links to The Daily Beast and Gawker, who offer their own perspective on the situation.
It is unfortunate that such a major talent,who earned great fortune as well as acclaim could become a victim of her own financial mismanagement.
– ghi contributor
What’s Wrong With This Picture?
Annie Leibovitz has a reputation as one of the most talented people working behind a camera, but she is apparently less adept at handling money than images — with New York real estate serving as her Waterloo.
“An art finance company that lent the photographer Annie Leibovitz $24 million against every photo she has ever taken – and against the value of her homes in Manhattan and Rhinebeck, N.Y. — filed a breach of contract lawsuit against her in State Supreme Court on Wednesday.”
Charging that Ms. Leibovitz engaged in “boldly deceptive conduct,” Art Capital Group wants the court to order the photographer to allow real estate agents to enter her townhouses to make an appraisal on the property with an eye toward liquidating the properties to meet her obligations.
The suit contends that in October, she signed an agreement granting Art Capital the right to sell all her photos, her town houses in Greenwich Village, and her summer home in Rhinebeck if she did not meet her payments.
But beyond the implication that Ms. Leibovitz, who has had seven-figure contracts with Conde Nast Publications for many years, spends like a sailor on shore leave, the story by Allen Salkin mentions that she bought three adjoining townhouses in the West Village and then began lengthy renovations. An editor who has worked with Ms. Leibovitz for many years, but asked not to be identified speaking on her private finances, said what looks like a spendthrift artist could be a much more common story.
“I’m pretty sure that her business agent told her when she was making all the money she was making that New York real estate would be a good place to put it,” the person said. “But then she got involved in all of these horrendous renovations, which is a story many of us have lived through in New York and now that photo budgets are being cut back everywhere, I’m sure she doesn’t have nearly as much money coming in.”
So, apart from the part about the three townhouses, the $24 million and the lucrative contracts, Ms. Leibovitz is just like the rest of us.