Annie Leibovitz: A snapshot of the perils of mixing art and money

Legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz has fallen afoul of her erstwhile saviors, Art Capital Group. Last year, Art Capital lent her $24 million in return for the right to sell her art and homes; now it is saying that the artist refuses to follow through on her obligations. Art Capital Group has filed suit in New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Art Capital Group Inc. v Leibovitz).

Last year, when Liebovitz originally sought Art Capital Group's help, she was beset by tax liens, mortgages and other unpaid bills. The company, which provides financial and investment banking services to artists, art collectors and other participants in the art market, agreed to help her through her financial straits. To secure the $24 million loan, Leibovitz pledged as collateral her artwork, photography archives, and real estate (in Greenwich Village and Rhinebeck, NY). The complaint filed by Art Capital Group also states that the collateral includes every photo she has taken – from John Lennon to a nude, pregnant Demi Moore. A default, according to the agreement, would allow Art Capital Group to sell the collateral. Yet, the financiers allege that Leibovitz is trying extract herself from her contractual obligations. They say she hasn't paid several hundred thousand dollars, wouldn't let real estate agents access her properties and is generally getting in the way of Art Capital Group's divestiture efforts.