Poor Us: The Great Depression 2.0

February 27, 2009

History in hock: Annie Leibovitz pawns photos

In 1975, photographer Annie Leibowitz and writer Hunter S. Thompson went on the road with the Rolling Stones

Photographer Annie Leibovitz kept the Baby Boom generation in sharp focus from their misspent youth to tapped-out middle age but no one ever pictured her getting caught up in their craziness.

Until now. Tuesday The New York Times reported that finding herself in a financial bind, Leibovitz “essentially pawned every snap of the shutter she had made or will make…”

“Leibovitz…borrowed $5 million from a company called Art Capital Group. In December, she borrowed $10.5 million more from the same firm. As collateral, among other items, she used town houses she owns in Greenwich Village, a country house, and something else: the rights to all of her photographs. Leibovitz secured two loans last year from a company calls Art Capital Group, which is essentially a pawn shop for the art elite. ”

For 75 million Baby Boomers who still dream of being shot by Lebovitz for the cover of Rolling Stone or Vanity Fair,  this may be the first time they  identify with the photographer more than the rock stars or Oscar winners in her pictures.  That’s because they’re all as broke as she is. CNN Money reported this the same day the pawned art story broke:

“The collapse of the housing bubble, which led to the current recession, has already destroyed almost $6 trillion dollars in housing wealth for homeowners,” said report co-author Dean Baker. “This reality is compounded by the recent collapse of the stock market. Many baby boomers will only have Social Security and Medicare to rely on in their retirement.”

So much home equity has been lost that should boomers need to sell their homes, 30% of those aged 45 to 54 would owe money at closing, according to ‘The Wealth of the Baby Boom Cohorts After the Collapse of the Housing Bubble,” a report released by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a Washington, D.C.-based, non-partisan think tank. About 18% of boomers aged 55 to 64 are underwater and would have to bring money to the table.”

Source: Boom2Bust

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