Photographer Leibovitz gets more time to pay back $24M
NEW YORK — Photographer Annie Leibovitz has won an extension on a $24 million loan in a financial dispute that threatened her rights to her famous images, the two sides said in a joint statement Friday.
Leibovitz and the company, Art Capital Group, said the 59-year-old photographer had been given more time to repay the loan. The loan’s deadline passed on Tuesday, but both parties had continued to work to try to resolve the dispute. Neither party would specify the length of the extension.
“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,” Leibovitz said in the statement.
Her spokesman Matthew Hiltzik declined to comment on specifics of the deal.
Last year, Leibovitz put up as collateral three Manhattan townhouses, an upstate New York property and the copyright to every picture she has ever taken — or will take — to secure the loan.
Leibovitz needed the money, according to Art Capital, to deal with a “dire financial condition” stemming from her mortgage obligations, tax liens and unpaid bills.
The company sued her in July, claiming she had breached an agreement that authorized it to act as the agent in the sale of her photography and real estate. On Friday, the parties said Art Capital withdrew the lawsuit and sold back the rights to her works.
Leibovitz “purchased from Art Capital its rights to act as exclusive agent in the sale of her real property and copyrights,” the joint statement said. “Ms. Leibovitz will therefore retain control of those assets within the context of the loan agreement which shall prevail until satisfied.”
The company declined to say how much Leibovitz paid for the company’s rights to act as agent.
“It was important to us to be flexible and to work out an agreement with Ms. Leibovitz that helps her achieve financial stability,” Art Capital said.
“I think this is a win-win for both parties,” said William Heller, an intellectual property attorney not involved in the case, when told of the agreement. “An amicable resolution in disputes like these is far better than an adjudicated solution, which comes at great cost and great delay.”
“Art Capital is most concerned about repayment of its loan, and Annie Leibovitz is most concerned about protecting her rights in her valuable intellectual property,” Heller added.
Should she default, Heller said, “the consequences will be determined by the terms of the deal they had just renegotiated.”
But he said it appeared that “there has been fair consideration exchanged so that she could buy back control of her collection. It sounds like a common-sense result, a fair result and an intelligent result for both parties.”
Leibovitz’s artsy, provocative portraits of celebrities have made her nearly as famous as the celebrities in her images. Her portraits have regularly graced the covers of Vanity Fair, Vogue and Rolling Stone
Over the years, her lens has captured such famous faces as Queen Elizabeth II, Demi Moore and Bruce Springsteen. One of her best-known images depicts a nude John Lennon cuddling with a clothed Yoko Ono just hours before he was fatally shot.
She gave the world its first glimpse of baby Suri, newborn daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, on the cover of Vanity Fair, which she joined in 1983.
Art Capital, a Manhattan-based company that issues loans against fine and decorative arts and real estate, had estimated the value of Leibovitz’s portfolio at $40 million, and real estate brokers have said her New York properties were worth about $40 million.
By Ula Ilnytzky, Associated Press Writer
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
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