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Private Equity Firm Bails Annie Leibovitz Out of Debt

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By Kamika Dunlap on March 15, 2010 3:30 PM

Private equity firm Colony Capital LLC firm has come to the aid of celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz rescuing her from millions of dollars of debt and helping to market her portfolio of celebrity images.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the celebrity photographer agreed to a deal allowing Colony to become her sole creditor and Leibovitz will retain control of her portfolio.

The agreement releases Annie Leibovitz of a loan to repay a $24 million to the Manhattan firm Art Capital Group. The financial dispute had threatened her rights to her own images.

Under the new deal, she gets to keep the rights of more than 100,000 photographs. In addition, Colony is considering plans to hold traveling photographic exhibit.

Art Capital said its loan to the celebrity photographer has been satisfied but did not provide any further details.

Annie Leibovitz's photos are only part of the collateral for Colony's loan. The photographer also is a real-estate collector and owns properties totaling about $50 million.

According to documents filed with New York City's Finance Department, Annie Leibovitz borrowed and refinanced more than a dozen loans, using her real-estate assets as collateral.

She owns three brownstones in Manhattan's West Village and a 228-acre property in Rhinebeck, New York.

Colony, the private-equity firm owned by billionaire Thomas J. Barrack will help market her photos under the agreement. Her images include cover shots taken for Vanity Fair, Vogue and Rolling Stone.

Barrack made a similar move when he bought a $23 million loan on Michael Jackson's estate that gave him rights to the 2,700 acre Neverland estate.

Now, the company plans to sale the Neverland property and expects bids of as high as $100 million.