Celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz could lose the right to her entire portfolio of world-famous photographs if she doesn’t meet a Tuesday deadline to pay back a $24 million loan she is alleged to owe.
Leibovitz, who has photographed everyone from the Rolling Stones to Queen Elizabeth II, put her art, intellectual property and even real estate assets up for collateral last year when she consolidated her massive debts. Art Capital Group, which restructured the debts, claims it agreed with Leibovitz that it could sell her assets if she didn’t pay back the loan by Tuesday. Now Art Capital is suing Leibovitz for breach of contract, claiming she has not repaid the money and is blocking the company’s right to sell her works and assets. It says she has vowed not to cooperate with Art Capital and has failed to pay invoices to the company. Art Capital says Leibovitz also has not allowed real estate brokers to visit her properties so they can show them to potential buyers. Watch how the legendary photographer fell into debt Asked by CNN to respond, Leibovitz’s attorney, Steven Brawer, said, “I don’t have anything I can tell you.” They have until October 1 to respond to the lawsuit. One of Leibovitz’s best known photos is of John Lennon with his wife, Yoko Ono, shortly before the Beatles star was assassinated in 1980. She is no stranger to controversy. In 1991, Leibovitz photographed a nude and extremely pregnant Demi Moore for the cover of Vanity Fair. The issue, considered scandalous at the time, was sold in many places nationwide with a sheath of white paper. Last year, Leibovitz photographed Disney star Miley Cyrus wrapped in a bedsheet, eliciting claims that the photographer pressured the teen queen into poses that were too provocative for her young age. In July, Art Capital filed a complaint with the New York Supreme Court, asking it to uphold the sales agreement it signed with Leibovitz, including its right to sell her art and real estate.
If the court agrees with Art Capital, it means Leibovitz could end up owing far more than she did originally. Art Capital has asked for an unspecified amount of damages in addition to the money it says the photographer originally borrowed. Art Capital — through its affiliate, American Photography — provides financial and consulting services to artists, galleries and art owners, and offers loans based on their intellectual property and fine art assets.