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August 24, 2009


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From what I read, when Annie's life partner died, she was required to pay estate taxes on all the property, because they were not able to be married and the assets did not transfer over with no penalty. She tried to keep the properties instead of selling them off (dump financial move), and I think that is what has gotten her into her most recent financial trouble. This is one reason why I support gay marriage. Its not fair that homosexuals don't have the same rights as heterosexuals.

Emily --

I had heard that as well, but couldn't put it together from these pieces. Certainly the Times would have said this if it was true, right?

Owning three townhomes in Greenwich Village and a home in Rhinebeck seems a bit extravagant considering the purchase price, renovations and carrying costs of all that real estate. I wonder if that lifestyle is considered modest when compared to Michael Jackson? It certainly isn't modest compared to mine.

I read it in another article, but found this one:

I am not sure how public their relationship was, and of course, its all hearsay but it makes sense as to why she is in such great debt.

Emily --

It still doesn't answer the question about why the Times didn't mention it. Do they think it's not true?

If you read the piece you link to, it doesn't really say that's the reason she's in tough shape. They couch their post with terms like "might explain" and "it's entirely feasible" -- versus saying this is the reason for the problem.

And even if it is, why didn't someone with millions plan for it? Seems like it would have been a no-brainer to do so.

I can't speak to Ms. Leibovitz's personal situation, but the death tax sucks for everyone who's accumulated any amount of wealth. Governments tax you when you earn it and then tax you again on what they missed the first around after you die. Unlike farmers and small business owners who get hit with this a lot and can't sell off part of a farm or business, you'd think some of Sontag's less important assets could be sold off to cover the tax bill. It also seems like Sontag could have done some better estate planning to lessen the tax burden.

When you read all the various articles, the death tax issue does not seem to be the real problem. If it was, the way to handle it is to sell portions of the inherited property to pay the tax bill.

There are several articles about the cost issues related to her rehab work in Greenwich Village. Beyond that, it seems that there are overall budgeting issues with respect to her work. Here is an article that covers that:

Note the quote at the very end:

"The weekly New York Magazine published a lengthy article recounting her perfectionism at work and her lavish personal taste, including an apartment on the banks of the Seine in Paris to please her lover, writer Susan Sontag, who died in 2004.

Anna Wintour, the equally famous editor of Vogue magazine, said in a documentary that Leibovitz was priceless.

"Budget is not something that enters into her consciousness, but it is worth it because at the end of the day, she gives you an image that nobody else can," said Wintour. "

I think the talk about the estate tax gets away from the main point of this post. It is true that no matter how much you make you must live below your means. Look at how many athletes file bankruptcy. It can happen to anyone. I have seen teachers with more money than doctors due to their lifestyle and commitment to savings.Ki


Spend less than you earn is the simple mantra. How come our gov't can't get this concept down?

Shouldn't a principle that is good for the individual be good for gov't as well?


this just goes to show that making a lot of cash is not the end of financial problems but the beginning of others(what to doe with all the cash)
some of this stories of financial failings help the rest of us aspiring for fortunes to keep priorities in order and to increase our education on money. i recently read a post om mr mcafee(founder of the software giant). he is almost running broke after burning through almost $100 million. sad huh??

Mike --

Ha! You'd think so!

Emily --

I found this:

Key quotes:

"Goldman discredits the idea that the so-called 'gay tax' left Leibovitz unable to inherit her partner Susan Sontag's estate without paying significant taxes. Most of Sontag's estate, he says, went to Sontag's son, not to Leibovitz.

Relying mainly on interviews with those who have worked with her, Goldman argues that the real cause of Leibovitz's debt is her tendency to spent outrageous amounts of money while on assignment, partly driven by her work ethic."

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