August 19, 2009

"Compared to 99 percent of the world, she makes a vast fortune."

"The problem occurs when a person becomes so famous that they start feeling that they’re more in line financially with Oprah or Madonna.

The linked article is long — but fascinating.

47 comments:

Florida said...

She's not hanging with the right crowd.

She should join Obama's "Dollars For Millionaires" program:

1) $10.5 million for Obama's new CEO of AIG. (I thought we weren't going to hand out millions to government executives?)

2) Millionaire Bill Frist given $4,500 government welfare check to buy a brand new car!

Annie needs to start taking pictures of Barack Obama. Then her troubles would be over.

traditionalguy said...

The Blue Pill for her quickly. She managed to lose her money without Bernie Madoff's help. What more can be done for her? Only her loving children and grandchildren can take care of her now.

mccullough said...

Great article. Seems like the real estate buying and rehabbing really did her in. You can't be a perfectionist and do that stuff.

David said...

Fascinating, but also rather disgusting.

Short summary:

Talented narcissistic artist photographs celebrities and thereby becomes one. Obtains deserved reputation for failing to pay her bills. Runs up astronomical costs on photo shoots to suit her whims. Remains difficult to deal with for nearly everyone. Spends massively, irresponsibly and far beyond her means. Makes business deals that she later repudiates. In panic mortgages her life's work to save her own ass and then blames others for misleading her. Feels sorry for self. Becomes object lesson and source of much gossip.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

I am unclear on how being a perfectionist can force one to walk away from a rental car.

Also, I don't want to hear or read the expression "reach out" ever again from anybody else unless they're the Four Tops.

rhhardin said...

No editor and no word count limit, if I've spotted the genre correctly.

Florida said...

Headline: How Could This Happen To Annie Lieberman?

Answer: Page 6

"It was the Range Rover, the trips to Paris, the chef and housekeeper, the handyman, the personal yoga instructor, the terrace gardener, and the live-in nanny."

Pardon me while I cry a tear for this pampered millionaire bitch's misfortune.

Woe is the person who must do without a terrace gardener.

Do these people not realize how ridiculously lame they sound complaining about how terrible their life will be without the live-in nanny to raise their kids and personal chef to feed them?

God, why can't they just die already.

I've changed my mind about ObamaCare. Bring on the death panels.

Methadras said...

Laura(southernxyl) said...

I am unclear on how being a perfectionist can force one to walk away from a rental car.


Her perfectionism came at a price. Basically she was neurotic to the point that responsible details that she had to worry about, she simply neglected. I see it a lot with people who are very good if not geniuses at what they do, but their personal lives are a train-wreck. Some can't even tie their own shoes much less worry about how much they are running up in expenses.

Some could argue that she really wasn't that great due to her perfectionism. The argument being that if you have to produce 500 - 700 Polaroid shots of a coke bottle in a museum because you are worried you might miss the 'right' shot then you are doing something wrong. I'll put it to you another way. I don't know if you know this or not, but if you've ever seen the Dyson vacuum cleaner commercials with the James Dyson, the creator of the vacuum brand said that he built over 5000 prototypes to finally get the vacuum the way he wanted right. Let me tell you that if it takes you 5000 times to get something right, then you are doing something wrong. I'm an engineer and if I had to build 5000 different prototypes to get the one I need to work, well, I wouldn't be employed for long or have a good reputation.

In the insular world of fashion and photography, Annie had a modicum of protection from others who were willing to deal with her excesses as a matter of a value judgment yet didn't realize what they signed up for or what the true cost of her perfectionism was going to cost them in the end. Her shitty inability to manage money was sacrificed for her art. This is nothing new and I think movies have been made about this type of mental lapse.

Cedarford said...

Fascinating article. Thanks, Ann, for tipping your readers.
That was one excellent writer behind the Leibovitz story.. Last one I read this good was the New Yorker piece on Rick Rescorla.

Althouse's reward? May the other Ann's observations about photogs be true:

"Photographers, she said, “live to a very old age” and “work until the end.” She noted that Lartigue lived to be 92, Steichen 93, and Cartier-Bresson 94. “Irving Penn is going to be 92 next month, and he’s still working.” Adams and Gordon Parks also lived long, among the ones that immediately come to mind..

And I agree with other posters - I have a hard time these days mustering an iota of sympathy for millionaires that bankrupt themselves living beyond even their (LARGE) means.

Pogo said...

Most of the states and the entire federal government live well beyond its means, and yet few seem to make the connection between the financial troubles of Annie Leibovitz and those of Uncle Sam.

Uncle Sam can add a few zeroes to his printing presses whenever he feels like it, but then it becomes play money.

So what is the NY Times trying to tell us here?
That we should learn some sort of lesson?
What might that be?

ricpic said...

I can't think of an Annie Leibovitz image that - independent of the famous face or figure in it - sticks in the mind. I can think of a score of such images by Ansel Adams, Albert Stieglitz, Robert Doisneau, Weegee and Robert Frank. What artist? What genius? She's a deadbeat. That I'll give her credit for. World class.

David said...

Ripic: And Margaret Bourke White--a superior photographer to Liebowitz in all respects.

mccullough said...

This thread is a tough crowd. C'mon the woman gave birth at age 51 and Susan Sontag stiffed her in the will.

rhhardin said...

Now, William Wegman was a decent photographer.

You could get an actual essay out of it.

Select C-prints.

Chip Ahoy said...

The most interesting thing about this article was skipping over to Amazon to read the reviews for Sontag's On Photography starting with 1 star because they're usually most interesting.


imess, how rude!

NKVD said...

Hate filled liberal spends more than she earns, makes terrible decisions in every aspect of her life, blames others.

She could be in congress.

WV - croccoz - what death panels want to do to Americans.

onparkstreet said...

@ Pogo - that's brilliant.

wv: minchri. My previous wv was cracti, but ur site don't like my open id sometimes....grrr....

Penny said...

I almost didn't read this article because I read another lengthy article about her woes months ago. Very glad I did because there are few similarities between the two. As I recall, the other version painted Liebovitz as the grieving lover of Sontag doing everything possible to try to keep their multiple homes as some sort of memory of what was, even though doing so was bankrupting her.

I guess it's just like all the other "stories" we read... Subject to the writer's viewpoint and a bunch of unnamed sources.

Michael Hasenstab said...

I don't want to hear or read the expression "reach out" ever again from anybody else unless they're the Four Tops.

@Laura - Thanks. Best line I've read in a while. And so true.

ironrailsironweights said...

Annie Leibovitz clearly hated what a lifetime-achievement award implied about her—that the best days of her 40-year career were behind her.

A lifetime-achievement Oscar means something else, namely that you shouldn't buy unripe tomatoes if you catch my drift.

Peter

David said...

mccullough said...

" . . . .Susan Sontag stiffed her in the will."

Give me a break. Sontag left her money to her kids, not to her lover who is paid hundreds of thousands per photo shoot and a huge retainer by Vanity Fair. Why would there be any expectation that Liebowitz should get money from Sontag?

kcom said...

"Why would there be any expectation that Liebowitz should get money from Sontag?"

Because she needed it. Isn't that the current standard?

richard said...

500 - 700 Polaroid shots of a coke bottle in a museum because you are worried you might miss the 'right' shot then you are doing something wrong.... this might be described as obsessive compulsive behavior for those of us who aren't geniuses. but its "perfectionism" for those who are.

Shanna said...

Chip, the first one star review (good suggestion!) says "has susan sontag ever taken a picture?" Heh.

Woe is the person who must do without a terrace gardener.

Seriously, how much gardening is there on a terrace? Would it all be in pots?

This is yet another "person gets rich, spends a bunch of money on stupid stuff, and goes wildly into debt" story. Ho, Hum. It's really, really hard to feel sorry for them for wasting a bunch of money.

EDH said...

Just read this story linked on Instapundit.

Brain Is a Co-Conspirator in a Vicious Stress Loop

As though it weren’t bad enough that chronic stress has been shown to raise blood pressure, stiffen arteries, suppress the immune system, heighten the risk of diabetes, depression and Alzheimer’s disease and make one a very undesirable dinner companion, now researchers have discovered that the sensation of being highly stressed can rewire the brain in ways that promote its sinister persistence.

Reporting earlier this summer in the journal Science, Nuno Sousa of the Life and Health Sciences Research Institute at the University of Minho in Portugal and his colleagues described experiments in which chronically stressed rats lost their elastic rat cunning and instead fell back on familiar routines and rote responses, like compulsively pressing a bar for food pellets they had no intention of eating.

Moreover, the rats’ behavioral perturbations were reflected by a pair of complementary changes in their underlying neural circuitry. On the one hand, regions of the brain associated with executive decision-making and goal-directed behaviors had shriveled, while, conversely, brain sectors linked to habit formation had bloomed.

In other words, the rodents were now cognitively predisposed to keep doing the same things over and over, to run laps in the same dead-ended rat race rather than seek a pipeline to greener sewers. “Behaviors become habitual faster in stressed animals than in the controls, and worse, the stressed animals can’t shift back to goal-directed behaviors when that would be the better approach,” Dr. Sousa said. “I call this a vicious circle.”

Robert Sapolsky, a neurobiologist who studies stress at Stanford University School of Medicine, said, “This is a great model for understanding why we end up in a rut, and then dig ourselves deeper and deeper into that rut.”

The truth is, Dr. Sapolsky said, “we’re lousy at recognizing when our normal coping mechanisms aren’t working. Our response is usually to do it five times more, instead of thinking, maybe it’s time to try something new.”

former law student said...

Artists (other than, say, Picasso) are not noted for their hard-headed business sense.I think Van Gogh sold one painting in his lifetime. I've known some who have difficulty adding and subtracting. That's why they hire business managers, as Leibovitz did. Apparently "No" was not part of her BM's vocabulary.

What I'd like to know is if Leibovitz was making her quarterly estimated income tax payments. It would be odd if that was the one bill that was getting paid.

vw. Monat = August, same as in Englisch

Ann Althouse said...

I don't think the article was supposed to make you sympathize with her. My reaction was to be amazed by how much money she made and then how much she spent. How could someone who made that much lose it all and not even see how it was all being lost?

arden1s said...

Off topic. Saw your diavlog w/Bob Wright. Gotta disagree about your characterization of a focus on women's issues as a sort of niche concern befitting a first lady, but not a secretary of state. Women's social and legal status, health, economic opportunities, and so forth have major implications for global development and other outcomes. See, for instance, The Women's Crusade in the coming issue of the NYT Magazine.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Annie Leibovitz is well-known in the NY photo community as a photographer who relies on her assistants to do every single thing at her shoots- lights, camera, sets, etc. She overshoots because she is incompetent. And she is infamous for abusing her assistants and for throwing tantrums, such as smashing a Hassleblad with a digital back and a prime lens on the floor of her studio. We're talking 10-15K worth of equipment. Her temper talentlessness are legendary in the industry.

Fatmouse said...

Salvadore Dali, of all people, was also a fairly savvy businessman. He realized early on that people would pay big money for a "limited edition collectors print" and died with a comfortable amount of savings.

Oh, and the only picture by Leibovitz that's even left the tiniest artistic impression on me was the infamous Miley Cyrus shot, and that's entirely due to her facial expression and the cold lighting, none of which Leibovitz had anything to do with.

bearbee said...

Prefer rough 'n tumble photos.
FSA photogs

And the action photos from the recent Iranian uprising

bearbee said...

BTW thanks to those who summarized the article. No way I was gonna slog through it.

Pogo said...

"How could someone who made that much lose it all and not even see how it was all being lost?"

That is the important question, of course.

And not to delimit the subject, but the question should be asked every day of this Administration, for what is utterly stupid for one person cannot be a stimulus or a pattern for wealth for 300 million US citizens.

LoafingOaf said...

Annie Leibovitz is well-known in the NY photo community as a photographer who relies on her assistants to do every single thing at her shoots- lights, camera, sets, etc. She overshoots because she is incompetent. And she is infamous for abusing her assistants and for throwing tantrums, such as smashing a Hassleblad with a digital back and a prime lens on the floor of her studio. We're talking 10-15K worth of equipment. Her temper talentlessness are legendary in the industry.

I don't know about all that, but her photographs are beautiful and memorable. She seems hella talented to me. I can understand that a lot in the industry would be jealous.

Florida said...

@Fatmouse

"... the only picture by Leibovitz that's even left the tiniest artistic impression on me was the infamous Miley Cyrus shot ..."

Hmmmmmm.

Not sure I'd want "fantasy lesbian child pr0n" to be my on my epithet.

Randy said...

How could someone who made that much lose it all and not even see how it was all being lost?

It is not that hard. Someone with a poor understanding of financial affairs is quite likely to receive bad financial advice from poorly chosen advisers, or ignore good advice. Many a fortune has been lost this way.

NKVD said...

"Hella" talented. Right. Maybe from a California perspective, but not from the perspective of anyone who has looked at art and photography.

She is an overpaid hack.

former law student said...

She is an overpaid hack.

The images on pages 4 and 6 of the linked article speak for themselves. They didn't even include Whoopi in the milk bath, one of my favorites.


vw: ronati -- pasta shaped like ron

CarmelaMotto said...

I don't think, artist or not, you can excuse the fact that she didn't pay her suppliers or those who purchased her work through that dealer (signing her work although people had paid in full). No "she's an artist" excuse. Baloney. It's just disrespectful to those who make her success POSSIBLE.

Jeremy said...

And the local assholes pile on.

Nothing new with that.

What a truly sad crew.

Jeremy said...

"How could someone who made that much lose it all and not even see how it was all being lost?"

Can I assume you've never heard of Mr. Madoff?

Methadras said...

Jeremy said...

"How could someone who made that much lose it all and not even see how it was all being lost?"

Can I assume you've never heard of Mr. Madoff?


And I know you've heard of Social Security. You remember what that is right? It's that little bankrupt ponzi scheme in the same mold as Mr. Madoff's ponzi scheme. Except he's going to jail for being behind it, yet I don't see any of your government gods going to jail bankrupting a corrupt ponzi system like SS. Your the worst kind of hypocrit.

former law student said...

I don't see any of your government gods going to jail bankrupting a corrupt ponzi system like SS

Good idea.

Of the government gods who looted Social Security, Reagan's dead, but both Bushes and Clinton are available for prosecution.

LoafingOaf said...

NKVD says: "Hella" talented. Right. Maybe from a California perspective, but not from the perspective of anyone who has looked at art and photography.

Who hasn't looked at art and photography? Or do you mean "looked at" in some snootier way? Eh, well, I know I've looked at lots of good photography because I'm a Vanty Fair subscriber. :)

She is an overpaid hack.

Excuuuse me. I said "hella", thus I have no right to an opinion on photographs. All your many years of studying art mean you know a hack when you see one and her photographs will wind up in the dustbin of history. Thanks for setting me straight.

But, wait, here's your previous post in this thread: Hate filled liberal spends more than she earns, makes terrible decisions in every aspect of her life, blames others. She could be in congress.

Ah, I see, so her photography sucks because she's a liberal who mismanaged her finances? For a second I was feeling ashamed that I'd even said a word as I haven't studied art like you. Turns out you're just another ridiculous partisan who never stops yapping about your partisan politics no matter the topic.

LoafingOaf said...

Jeremy said...
And the local assholes pile on.
Nothing new with that. What a truly sad crew.


Jeremy, I'm sorry you're so ignorant of art and, unlike the commenters here, you don't know she's a horrible photographer because she's a liberal.

NKVD said...

Project much, oaf?

Jen Bradford said...

I'm sort of curious to know whether she ever did any charitable giving. She was obviously quite lavish with those close to her, but was she truly generous?

My original reaction was dismay that she would lose the rights to her work, but by the time the part about the nanny notebooks appeared, I confess to some schadenfreude.