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Leibovitz loan is renegotiated

She regains control of her photographs and real estate from Art

September 12, 2009|Bloomberg News

NEW YORK — Celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz bought back control of her photographs and real estate by renegotiating the terms of a $24-million loan from Art Capital Group.

In return, the lender dropped its lawsuit against her, Art Capital and Leibovitz said Friday in a joint statement.

Under the agreement, Leibovitz purchased from Art Capital its right to act as an exclusive agent in the sale of the copyright to every image the photographer has ever taken as well as her three brownstones in Manhattan's West Village and a 228-acre property in Rhinebeck, N.Y.

Leibovitz made her creditor an "irrevocable, exclusive agent" in December 2008 in exchange for obtaining a $24-million loan and a 12% interest rate.

Art Capital filed suit in a New York court July 29 saying Leibovitz, 59, reneged on that agreement.

Though Leibovitz missed the Tuesday deadline to repay the loan, her creditor didn't immediately call her in default.

Leibovitz and Art Capital said in the statement that they reached an agreement "that provides a further restructuring of Ms. Leibovitz's finances and resolves pending litigation." Art Capital said it extended the loan's due date but didn't disclose the new date.

"We worked closely with Ms. Leibovitz and her advisors to afford her the additional time she requested to pay this loan in full," Art Capital said.

Neither Art Capital nor Leibovitz would say how much she paid to regain the rights to control her works and real estate.

The photos and the real estate remain collateral for the loan, Art Capital said. If she defaults on the loan, she may forfeit the assets.

Leibovitz started at Rolling Stone magazine and is now a contributor to Vanity Fair.

Her financial troubles stem in part from real estate properties she purchased and their epic renovations. Between 1999 and 2008, Leibovitz borrowed and refinanced more than a dozen loans, with her real estate as collateral, documents filed with the city's finance department show.

She consolidated several of these loans under a $15.5-million umbrella loan from Art Capital in December 2008.

In 2007 and 2008, Leibovitz was late in paying $1.8 million in federal taxes, according to liens filed with New York City's Finance Department.

In recent years, she has faced a plethora of lawsuits, including those filed by her former interior designer, wardrobe assistants and a stylist who sought hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages for unpaid bills, according to court filings.

Last week, Italian photographer Paolo Pizzetti sued her in U.S. District Court in New York, alleging she misappropriated photos he took and used them in an advertising campaign for Lavazza, the Italian coffee company.

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