That Old Master? It’s at the Pawnshop – NYTimes.com

Annie Leibovitz has elected to sell the rights to her images for financial assistance

Annie Leibovitz has elected to sell the rights to her images for financial assistance

Last fall, Annie Leibovitz, the photographer, borrowed $5 million from a company called Art Capital Group. In December, she borrowed $10.5 million more from the same firm. As collateral, among other items, she used town houses she owns in Greenwich Village, a country house, and something else: the rights to all of her photographs.

In other words, according to loan documents filed with the city, one of the world’s most successful photographers essentially pawned every snap of the shutter she had made or will make until the loans are paid off.

Those who know Ms. Leibovitz said she used the money to pay off mortgages and deal with other financial stresses. But whatever her reasons, she is not alone in doing business with Art Capital and similar lenders. At a time when stock portfolios are plunging and many homes, even grand ones, have no equity left to borrow against, an increasing number of art owners are realizing that an Old Master or a prime photograph, when used as collateral, can bring in much-needed cash.

That Old Master? It’s at the Pawnshop – NYTimes.com.

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One Response to “That Old Master? It’s at the Pawnshop – NYTimes.com”

  1. Jason Says:

    Currently the Dow Jones just hit a 12 year low mark of 6,892.96. Nobody is truly immune from the effects of today’s economic crisis, including famed photographers such as Leibovitz. For some, this is no surprise that the rights of one of the most recognized photographers worldwide would sell the rights to her imagery for financial assistance. Currently Leibovitz is involved in several law suits ranging from disputed equipment rental fee’s to renovation of her homes. In many ways I view this as people cashing in what they have to stay afloat much like Michael Jackson did in recent years when he sold his rights to the Beatles catalog he purchased in attempts to save his Neverland home.

    Many wonder how a Leibovitz, a legendary photographer could be in this situation but it’s rather common at the moment. Her name and photo shoots usually require a substantial financial investment, and given the economy the dollars are not rolling in and more cost efficient methods are in place.

    This has naturally taken away Leibovitz’s income and selling the work she has done is not so much an act of desperation but that of getting the value of her work. Not many photographers can claim and get that there work is worth $15.5 million dollars. The upside is photographers have some form of a bench mark now to and precedent to say what there work is / can be worth and portfolios of photographers now world wide can be seen as a financial investment in the future versus a body of work.

    Art is once again becoming an investment, but an investment you can sell in today’s market unlike real estate. Veronica Hearst, the widow of Randolph Apperson Hearst used two Ruben paintings to get a loan from the same firm Leibovitz sold her photographic works to in attempt to prevent foreclosure on a mansion she owned as well. Her gamble did not pay off, but as stated above. Art is once again as valued as gold and silver.

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