Über-photographer Annie Leibovitz was forced to mortgage the rights to all her photographs last year in exchange for $15 million, and she's been the target of multiple creditor lawsuits for not paying bills. Now a source tells Gawker that one of them is preparing to force her into bankruptcy.
Our source got a hold of an involuntary bankruptcy petition drawn up by photo supplier B2Pro, which has sued Leibovitz and Vanity Fair publisher Condé Nast for unpaid bills. The document, known as a Form 5 (you can find the PDF of a blank version here), claims that Leibovitz owes B2Pro $189,000 and is set to be filed in federal bankruptcy court in Manhattan. If successful, it could put a bankruptcy judge in charge of all Leibowitz's assets—including her entire photographic archive.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that Leibovitz has pawned the rights to every photograph she has ever or will ever take to Art Capital Group, along with her homes in Rhinebeck, N.Y., and Manhattan. If she pays back the $15 million, she keeps the photos and the houses. If she doesn't, Art Capital gets them. The New York Post reported in March that Leibovitz is in desperate need of cash because she was forced to buy a building next to her two Greenwich Village townhouses after renovations on her buildings undermined its foundation.
Last year, the agency representing fashion stylist Nicoletta Santoro sued Leibovitz's studio claiming more than half a million dollars in unpaid bills, including $110,000 for a Disney ad featuring Jennifer Lopez and Marc Antony.
And B2Pro, which rented lighting equipment to Leibovitz for shoots in 2006 and 2007, is suing her for $227,000 in unpaid bills.
If B2Pro follows through with filing the petition, and if it is successful, a bankruptcy judge would survey Leibovitz's assets and decide which of them to sell off to satisfy her creditors, including B2Pro and Santorom. It's unclear if Leibovitz is up to date on her payments to Art Capital Group, but since they are undoubtedly a creditor, it's likely that Leibovitz's debt to them, and her arrangement with them, would come before the judge. Which means that her ownership over her photographic legacy could be resolved once and for all, and soon, in court.
B2Pro's attorney did not immediately return a call. Reached by phone, Leibovitz's attorney said, "I can't comment. I can't confirm anything."