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Celebrity Photog Annie Leibovitz Could Lose Rights To Her Own Work Today

Famed photographer Annie Leibovitz must come up with $24 million Tuesday or lose the rights to her own photos, like this portrait of Queen Elizabeth 2. Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo hide caption

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Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo

Famed photographer Annie Leibovitz must come up with $24 million Tuesday or lose the rights to her own photos, like this portrait of Queen Elizabeth 2.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo

It's deadline day for famed photographer Annie Leibovitz who must come up with $24 million today to repay a creditor or lose the copyrights to her photos.

Leibovitz, photographer of the rich and famous and a celebrity in her own right, put up as collateral her entire photographic catalog as well as real estate in Greenwich Village and upstate New York to obtain a loan to pay off some massive debts. Now that loan, from Art Capital Group, has come due.

An excerpt from the Associated Press:

Last year, the 59-year-old photographer put up as collateral her three historic Greenwich Village townhouses, a sprawling upstate New York property and the copyright to every picture she has ever taken — or will take — to secure the loan with ACG.

The company said she needed the money to deal with a "dire financial condition arising from her mortgage obligations, tax liens and unpaid bills to service providers and other creditors."

ACG consolidated all her loans in September 2008. In its lawsuit, it charged that Leibovitz breached a December 2008 sales agreement with the company granting ACG the right to sell the collateral before the loan came due. The lawsuit claimed she refused to allow real estate experts into her homes to appraise their value and blocked the company from selling her photographs.

ACG has estimated the value of the Leibovitz portfolio at $40 million; real estate brokers say her New York properties are worth about $40 million.

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At a time when many Americans are struggling to stave off foreclosure because of lost jobs or illnesses, the financial travails of a famously free-spending photographer who lived the fast, drug-hazed life of some of her subjects probably won't evoke a lot of sympathy.

Still, it's a very sad story, especially since Leibovitz stands to lose not just the ownership rights to all of her past work but all the photos she has yet to take.