Frilly Lizards’ Thoughts


Inspiration & Feedback on Art & Design. Please participate, share your views on any works of art or design; the artists and designers work you admire that give you inspiration in which ever form or discipline. Thanks you for taking time to read this. I’m interested to hear everyone’s opinion please share yours.

An interesting thought whilst enjoying breakfast.

Reading the paper and enjoying a danish pastry or two I came across this article which got me wandering. I am not trying to make giant assumptions by the comment I was just curious.

I am currently undertaking my dissertation looking into whether the cognitive process associated with dyslexia have impact on art and design. During the research I have been concerned with the both the positive and negative implications of this. The following article made me wander if Annie has dyslexia (diagnosed or undiagnosed) and if her attitude and working practices were a consequence of her condition. I have started to discover that many creatives care more about achieving perfection and the desired result and the financial side is not irrelevant but defiantly secondary to the art.

Photographer Annie Leibovitz $24M debt deadline looms closer

World famous photographer Annie Leibovitz has US$24 million in debt to pay back. Photo / APWorld famous photographer Annie Leibovitz has US$24 million in debt to pay back.

Annie Leibovitz’s portraits of celebrities, which regularly grace the covers of magazines such as Vanity Fair and Vogue, have made her as famous as her subjects and earned her millions.

However, Leibovitz now risks losing the copyright to the images in her entire life’s work if she does not pay back a US$24 million (NZ$34.8 million) loan by Tuesday (local time).

Art Capital Group (ACG), a New York company that issues short-term loans against fine and decorative arts and real estate, sued Leibovitz in late July for breach of contract.

“We have clear contractual rights and will protect them in any scenario,” said ACG spokesman Montieth Illingworth on Friday. “Our preference is for this to be resolved.”

Some experts say filing for bankruptcy reorganization could be the best option for Leibovitz (59), who put up her three historic Greenwich Village townhouses, an upstate property and artwork as collateral.

Leibovitz bought two of the townhouses in 2002, embarking on extensive renovations to combine them into one property.

This sparked protests from historic preservationists and a US$15 million (NZ$21.7 million) lawsuit by a neighbour after a common wall between their buildings was damaged.

Leibovitz eventually settled by buying the neighbor’s property for $1.9 million.

Leibovitz’s images of musicians, presidents and Hollywood glitterati are considered cultural touchstones by many.

One of her earliest photos is of John Lennon curled up naked in a fetal position with Yoko Ono, taken just hours before he was assassinated in 1980.

To many, her decision to gamble the rights to her work seems inexplicable. “Jaw-dropping,” Arts Lawyer Peter Stern said.

Leibovitz’s editorial agent, Contact Press Images, has declined to comment on the case, saying it is a private matter.

Her spokesperson, Matthew Hiltzik, has accused ACG of harassment.

“There has been tension and dispute since the beginning … For now, her attention remains on her photography and on continuing to organize her finances,” Hiltzik said.

A reorganization filing would suspend all litigation against Leibovitz and place her finances under the protection of a federal judge, said bankruptcy lawyer Paul Silverman, who works with Stern.

Neither attorney is involved in the case.

Last year, Leibovitz put up her homes and the copyright to every picture she has ever taken, or will take, as collateral to secure the loan to pay off her mounting debt created from unpaid bills, mortgage payments and tax liens, ACG said.

While no one has suggested publicly how Leibovitz got into such desperate financial straits, the mortgage debt on all her properties – including the townhouses in Greenwich Village and a sprawling estate in Rhinebeck, New York – totaled about US$15 million.

This includes the $1.2 million loan she took out on two of the townhouses, and another $2.2 million three years later, according to New York magazine.

In addition to her mortgages, court records show that she piled up years of federal, state and city liens and judgments from vendors for unpaid bills – all presumably now satisfied with the $24 million she borrowed.

Federal records show that Leibovitz owed a total of $2.1 million in unpaid taxes for tax years 2004, 2006 and 2007.

She also had New York state tax liens of $247,980 for six years, including $135,915 in 2007.

Leibovitz also owed New York City several thousand dollars.

Moreover, in 2008, a design firm that did work on one of her Greenwich Village properties claimed that Leibovitz owed it $51,000.

Leibovitz was also accused that year of refusing to pay $386,000 to a photo stylist during a 2007 shoot Leibovitz did for the Disney Company in 2007.

“Annie is working to resolve the situation so it would be inappropriate to comment,” Hiltzik said.

ACG, which consolidated all her loans in September 2008, charged in its lawsuit that Leibovitz breached the contract by refusing to allow real estate experts into her homes to appraise their value and by blocking ACG from selling her photographs.

ACG has estimated the value of the Leibovitz portfolio at $40 million while real estate brokers say her New York properties are worth about $40 million.

Leibovitz also owned an apartment in Paris, which she bought for her longtime companion, writer and feminist Susan Sontag.

Under the sales agreement with Leibovitz, Illingworth said, the company would get 10 per cent commission on the sale of Leibovitz’ real estate and 15 per cent on the sale of her portfolio.

Leibovitz would get the remainder after paying off the $24 million loan, interest and other fees, he said.

If she defaults, the company would get a net 12 per cent commission, after paying approximately 13 per cent for costs and fees.

Leibovitz’s Vanity Fair salary has been reported to be about $2 million, according to New York magazine.

She also has done work for Louis Vuitton and American Express and charges $100,000 for private portraits.


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