Photographers Mario Testino, Bruce Weber accused of sexual abuse
Mario Testino and Bruce Weber, two of the biggest names in fashion photography, have come under fire for an alleged pattern of sexual abuse and exploitation by dozens of male models and assistants who said their photo shoots went way too far, according to a report.
Publishing giant Condé Nast has said it would stop working with both men in the wake of a New York Times report Saturday that quoted current and former male models and male assistants who accused Weber and Testino of abusing their power by subjecting them to coercive sexual behavior.
The latest men accused in a snowballing sexual harassment scandal are two of the most powerful photographers in the fashion industry. When Madonna had her first daughter, it was Testino, 63, who took the baby pictures for Vanity Fair.
As for Weber, 71, several models told The Times that during private sessions with him, he would pressure them to pose nude for test shoots, and would initiate “breathing exercises” that would lead to inappropriate touching.
Some models referred to the sessions as being “Brucified.”
“I felt helpless,” model Josh Ardolf told The Times, referring to one such experience when he was 20 years old.
Bruce Weber’s (pictured) photo sessions were referred to as being “Brucified.”
(EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
“Like my agency said, he has a lot of power. He’s done a lot of large campaigns. That was in the back of my mind. ‘I can’t screw this up. I already made it this far.’
“I remember him putting his fingers in my mouth, and him grabbing my privates,” said model Robyn Sinclair. “We never had sex or anything, but a lot of things happened. A lot of touching. A lot of molestation.”
Former assistants said Testino often hired young, usually heterosexual men that he would subject to increasingly aggressive advances.
“Sexual harassment was a constant reality,” Roman Barrett, a former Testino assistant, who worked for him in the 1990s, told the Times.
“He misbehaved in hotel rooms, the backs of cars and on first-class flights… Then things would go back to normal, and that made you feel gaslighted.”
Stars accused of sexual harassment and assault
Other men said Testino had fondled them or had seen him fondle others on several occasions.
“(Testino) was a sexual predator,” said model Ryan Locke.
He said the photographer met him for a casting for a Gucci campaign in the 1990s in his hotel room wearing a loose robe and “they got into a stalemate about whether the model needed to go fully nude for test pictures.”
Later at a photoshoot, Locke says Testino cleared the set and “crawls on the bed, climbs on top of me.”
Weber issued a terse denial.
Model Mark Ricketson (lt.) with his attorney Lisa Bloom (c.) and model Jason Boyce, who are accusing photographer Bruce Weber of sexual misconduct, at The Bloom Firm in California on Dec. 5, 2017.
(Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
“I’m completely shocked and saddened by the outrageous claims being made against me, which I absolutely deny,” Weber said in a statement to The Times from his lawyer.
Lavely & Singer, a law firm representing Testino, “challenged the characters and credibility” of the people who made complaints.
But the allegations were enough for Condé Nast to cut ties, and announce a new code of conduct to protect models from sexual harassment and workplace abuse.
“We are deeply disturbed by these accusations and take this very seriously,” said chief executive Bob Sauerberg and Anna Wintour, artistic director of Condé Nast and editor-in-chief of Vogue, in a statement.
“In light of these allegations, we will not be commissioning any new work with Bruce Weber and Mario Testino for the foreseeable future.”