Financially troubled photography icon Annie Leibovitz has turned to a US private equity firm to help deal with debts which had threatened to strip her of her archive of famous pictures.
Colony Capital, a Los Angeles-based company focusing on real estate, said it had “formed a new partnership” with Leibovitz, whose financial collapse last year stunned the celebrity photography world.
Colony spokeswoman Caroline Luz said the firm would become Leibovitz’s sole creditor and would help her market her most photographs, which include renowned images like a Rolling Stone cover of a nude John Lennon embracing Yoko Ono.
“Colony’s goal is to invest patient capital where we can allow value to be achieved over the long term,” the company said in a statement.
“We are delighted to be able to do that here by partnering with Ms Leibovitz in a business relationship that allows her to continue to flourish as an artist while together we seek opportunities to enhance the value of the magnificent body of work she has created over the past 40 years.”
Leibovitz – who has photographed celebrities from Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger – teetered on the edge of bankruptcy last year when huge debts were due to lending agency Art Capital.
She risked losing her archive and a string of luxury properties, including three Manhattan houses and a country residence in New York state.
The 60-year-old was saved when Art Capital agreed to extend the loan.
Under the arrangement with Colony, she retains the rights to more than 100,000 photographs and about one million negatives in a Manhattan warehouse, the firm said.
Leibovitz praised Colony – normally known for its real estate investments – as “a dedicated and creative team,” the Financial Times reported.
“We will be working on new projects and I will have the support and freedom necessary for nurturing my work and preserving my archive,” she was quoted as saying.
Arguably the world’s most prominent portrait photographer, Leibovitz has a reputation for perfectionism and financial extravagance.
She put former Hollywood action hero Schwarzenegger atop a mountain, submerged black actress Whoopi Goldberg in a bath of milk and closed France’s Versailles palace to shoot Kirsten Dunst posing as Marie-Antoinette.