Katya Kazakina speaks on Bloomberg to Richard Nanula, the former Disney executive and Starwood CFO who is a partner at Colony Capital in LA. Nanula explains how their investment in Leibovitz came about. The firm previously bought Michael Jackson’s Neverland ranch when it was sold as a distressed asset:
“I said, ‘We helped Michael Jackson. We’d be happy to explore something with you. We are OK with complicated stuff,’” Nanula said in a telephone interview. […] The Colony contract, like her old loan, will be collateralized by Leibovitz’s archive of about 100,000 images and 1 million negatives as well as her three brownstones in Manhattan. Unlike the old loan, it doesn’t include her 228-acre Rhinebeck, New York, estate […] “We think it’s an opportunity for her and, to some extent, for us,” Nanula said. “She’s got valuable real estate and an incredibly valuable catalogue. We want to get her liquid again and focused on her business. We want her to continue taking her pictures. We believe in her future. […] “If there needs to be capital, we have capital. If she needs advice, we are going to be her sounding board,” Nanula said. “We are not calling the shots on the creative side.”
Of course, nothing in this interview explains how Colony hopes to make money where Leibovitz could not. Her commercial work is still under pressure from the relentless decline of revenue in the magazine business. Her fine art photography and the market that may or may not support it has not changed in any way because of this sale. And, as mentioned above, some the real estate previously used as collateral, no longer seems to be part of the financing.