Matthew Slutsky
August 26, 2009

Annie Leibovitz, celebrity photographer, may lose the rights to her life’s work, if she ends up defaulting on a $24 million (US) loan she received from Art Capital for renovations on her chic Manhattan properties.

According to numerous articles (here, here, here, and here) Art Capital Group has sued the photographer for a breach of contract, to which the loan was backed by the negatives and intellectual property rights to every photograph Leibovitz has ever taken, and by property she owns.

A law suit filed in the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan seeks to sell her assets to repay the loan that is due on September 8. If successful the photographer – who is famous for her nude picture of John Lennon and Yoko Ono and a portrait of a pregnant, naked Demi Moore – could lose all her properties.

The company lent the photographer $24 million to renovate the 19th century red brick row buildings. Leibovitz bought the properties in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village in 2002 and started extensive work – with the plan to turn the row into a single 9,000 square foot live / work studio.

The cost of the work escalated beyond her means and she was in a poor financial state due to unpaid taxes, mortgages and unpaid bills. As such, she approached Art Capital Group, which lends money using art as collateral, according to the lawsuit.

According to the documents, Leibovitz backed the loan with rights to her photographs, the Manhattan properties and a house in Rhinebeck.

Now Art Capital is suing the photographer for breaching a contract that allows the company to sell the properties and photographs’ copyrights even before she is due to repay the loan on September 8, according to court papers.

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