How Annie Leibovitz Got Underwater

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 17, 2009 1:46 PM CDT

(Newser) – Photographer to the stars Annie Leibovitz is in a widely reported financial pickle, but it really comes as no surprise to those close to her, New York reports. Leibovitz is now engaged in baroque legal wrangling over her catalog, but her troubles started earlier. Insiders say a suspected “contract for life” with Vanity Fair and a $250,000 day rate are hogwash, and that she has simply lived above her means for quite some time. “She wanted her life to be like a magazine spread,” an associate says.

Friends say her oddball relationship with the late Susan Sontag—“it’s as if Tom Cruise started going out with Akira Kurosowa,” a photog says—could have saved her. “Susan was really prudent about a lot of things,” her sister says. But it was not to be. “Photographers aren’t professional athletes, recording artists, or supermodels,” a source says. “The problem occurs when a person becomes so famous that they start feeling that they’re more in line financially with Oprah or Madonna.”

Annie Leibovitz stands in front of her work 'Monument Valley, Arizona 1993.'
Annie Leibovitz stands in front of her work 'Monument Valley, Arizona 1993.'   (AP Photo)
Photographer Annie Leibovitz.
Photographer Annie Leibovitz.   (AP Photo)
The front cover of Vanity Fair's edition with French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy photographed by Annie Leibovitz.
The front cover of Vanity Fair's edition with French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy photographed by Annie Leibovitz.   (AP Photo)
In this image released by Annie Leibovitz / Vogue, the March 2009 cover of Vogue is seen featuring first lady Michelle Obama.
In this image released by Annie Leibovitz / Vogue, the March 2009 cover of Vogue is seen featuring first lady Michelle Obama.   (AP Photo/Annie Leibovitz / Vogue)
In this image released by Vanity Fair, an image of actress and writer Tina Fey, taken by Annie Leibovitz, graces the cover of the January 2009 issue of Vanity Fair magazine, on sale nationwide on Dec. 9, 2008.
In this image released by Vanity Fair, an image of actress and writer Tina Fey, taken by Annie Leibovitz, graces the cover of the January 2009 issue of "Vanity Fair" magazine, on sale nationwide on Dec....   (AP Photo/Vanity Fair, Annie Leibovitz)
Annie Leibovitz, gestures, in front of her portrait of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, during the press launch of her exhibition 'Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life 1990-2005', at the National Portrait Gallery, in central London,  Wednesday Oct. 22, 2008.
Annie Leibovitz, gestures, in front of her portrait of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, during the press launch of her exhibition 'Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life 1990-2005', at the National Portrait...   (AP Photo/Yui Mok, PA)
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill., talks with photographer Annie Leibovitz at the airport in Charleston, W.Va., Thursday, March 20, 2008.
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill., talks with photographer Annie Leibovitz at the airport in Charleston, W.Va., Thursday, March 20, 2008.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Annie Leibovitz arrives at Buckingham Palace in London, Tuesday March 27 , 2007. The Queen accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh was hosting a reception for Americans based in Britain.
Annie Leibovitz arrives at Buckingham Palace in London, Tuesday March 27 , 2007. The Queen accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh was hosting a reception for Americans based in Britain.   (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth/pool)
Gisele Bundchen poses on the set of a photo shoot with photographer Annie Leibovitz on Oct. 12, 2007, in New York.
Gisele Bundchen poses on the set of a photo shoot with photographer Annie Leibovitz on Oct. 12, 2007, in New York.   (AP Photo/Disney Parks, Mark Schafer)
Photographer Annie Leibovitz, center, speaks to the media about her gallery exhibition, Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life, 1990-2005, at the Corcoran Museum of Art in Washington on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2007.
Photographer Annie Leibovitz, center, speaks to the media about her gallery exhibition, Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life, 1990-2005, at the Corcoran Museum of Art in Washington on Tuesday, Oct....   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Annie Leibovitz speaks about her portrait of Queen Elizabeth II at her gallery exhibition, Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life, 1990-2005, at the Corcoran Museum of Art in Washington on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2007. The show opens Oct. 13.
Annie Leibovitz speaks about her portrait of Queen Elizabeth II at her gallery exhibition, Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life, 1990-2005, at the Corcoran Museum of Art in Washington on Tuesday, Oct....   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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As a person from California, I’ve been trying to get her to move out here. I keep telling her, everyone’s really nice in California. - Paula Leibovitz, sister

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