Thursday, August 6, 2009

Annie Get Your Checkbook

If you have ever picked up an issue of Vanity Fair magazine, chances are you've seen photographer Anne Leibovitz's work. Between the infamous nude photograph of a pregnant Demi Moore to a young promiscuous looking Miley Cyrus, and who could forget the first photos of Tom and Katie Cruise's daughter Suri (that hair, those eyes!), Anne has taken some serious shots in her day. Her career started in the 70s with the Rolling Stones and she's still hot today with a recent book "At Work" making best-seller lists everywhere. NYT's describes her work at best saying, "Her pictures do not denigrate or disparage. Instead they document the celebrity circus with an acutely literal vision, submitting the famous to playfully acrobatic postures and various acts of clownishness."

However, being good with the camera doesn't translate to being good with the finances. Leibovitz is facing serious money troubles. Art Capital Group has sued the famous photographer over a sales agreement and a 24 million dollar loan. The loan was initially taken out for "tax liens, mortgages and unpaid bills." Leibovitz pledged collateral for this loan and faces 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. Her archives are valued at over 50 mil and Art Capital Group is already shopping the rights around.

Leibovitz isn't know for luxuries in her personal life and the extravagances (elephants anyone) required for many of her shoots are paid for by the employers and publications. So why the need for such a big loan? Noone from Leibovitz's camp has comments on this, so we're stuck without answers.

Finance troubles seem to always loom over the art world, especially professional artists. It takes more than just a camera (and probably a very very very expensive fancy schmancy camera) to take those photographs we see in the checkout aisle at Acme. It takes staff, equipment, space, processing, time, energy, all of which aren't free. It's unfortunate that a successful photographer, Leibovitz, who commands tens of thousands of dollars for a shoot is in this sort of predicament. Maybe she should take my mother's advice, "Don't spend beyond your means." 24 mil is alot of means though...

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