It was hardly 3 months ago when news broke that Condé Nast was not only severing ties with ‘Uncle Terry’ but dropping all then-upcoming and unpublished work. This was a big deal. Terry Richardson has been a mainstay of the fashion industry since the early 2000s, his images synonymous with the genre and replicated the world over. But through much of his tenure Richardson has been marred by the effervescent accusations of sexual deviancy towards his subjects, even if generally anecdotal.
Though accusations and recounts of his behavior had escalated over the years from harassment up to and including rape allegations, Terry’s career only continued to improve and it’s speculated his earnings to be somewhere in the $58 million dollar region between 2012-2013, which is long after these accusations had begun. In fact, until Condé Nast dropped Richardson officially it seemed he had escaped the accusations unscathed, but it’s been revealed by the NY Daily News that Richardson is now under investigation by the NYPD regarding multiple sexual assault allegations.
“Multiple women confirmed Tuesday that investigators from the elite unit have reached out in recent weeks, asking for sit-down meetings regarding the lurid lensman.
The development follows a Dec. 15 cover story in The News detailing new allegations of sexual assault against the 52-year-old former fashion industry star…”
*Find a list of allegations here
Richardson has, predictably, denied all such allegations of harassment and assault since the beginning, though relatively quietly, and generally denoting that his interactions were frequently sexual in nature, but plainly claims the interactions were consensual. He published an open letter which probably merits revisiting, but here’s an excerpt:
“I collaborated with consenting adult women who were fully aware of the nature of the work, and as is typical with any project, everyone signed releases. I have never used an offer of work or a threat of rebuke to coerce someone into something that they did not want to do.
People will always have strong opinions about challenging images, and the dichotomy of sex is that it is both the most natural and universal of human behaviors and also one of the most sensitive and divisive. Over the course of my career, I have come to accept that some of my more provocative work courts controversy, and as an artist, I value the discourse that arises from this. I can only hope for this discourse to be informed by fact, so that whether you love my work or hate it, you give it, and me, the benefit of the truth.”
All of this is both curious and due. The western world is having a bit of a ‘moment’ of revelation right now, and purging an old system of miscreants is part of it. If there’s one take-away to be had from any of this is that your reputation in photography will either precede you or…catch up to you. Tread carefully. Oh, and don’t be a predator…