Famed photographer Annie Leibovitz, known for capturing iconic images of celebrities for magazines like Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone and Vogue, is facing a lawsuit brought by an art finance company that lent her $24 million US.
New York-based Art Capital Group filed a breach of contract lawsuit against Leibovitz in Manhattan's State Supreme Court on Wednesday.
The lender, which specializes in loans with fine art as collateral, claims that in exchange for a credit-line agreement for $24 million, Leibovitz had signed over the rights to her art and intellectual property, as well as her homes in Manhattan and Rhinebeck, N.Y.
In 2008, reports emerged about the 59-year-old Leibovitz struggling with debts and about her talks with Art Capital Group to secure a $22-million US loan, subsequently raised to $24 million US.
The lawsuit accuses the photographer of refusing to allow appraisers to value her homes and refusing to meet with parties interested in purchasing her photo collection. Art Capital Group is calling for a judge to compel Leibovitz to comply with the terms of the contract, so as to repay a one-year loan.
A representative for Leibovitz called the allegations "false and untrue" and charged Art Capital with "continued harassment and attention-getting efforts."
Leibovitz is the photographer behind a host of memorable pop culture images: from a nude, late-pregnancy portrait of entertainer Demi Moore to an image of a naked John Lennon curled around his fully clothed wife, Yoko Ono — taken the day before the late ex-Beatle was killed.
She has also been embroiled in various controversies surrounding her photographs in recent years.
In 2007, a storm erupted over the BBC's airing of a misleading TV trailer that insinuated a tiff between Leibovitz and the Queen during a royal photo shoot.
In 2008, there was outrage following the release of a seductive Vanity Fair cover Leibovitz shot featuring teen performer Miley Cyrus.