Bill Cunningham captured the city’s ever-changing fashions for The New York Times for almost 40 years, and some of the women who inspired him most are looking to protect his extensive archive, Page Six reports.
Alexandra Lebenthal and other Cunningham “muses” hired investigators to take a look at a second will filed by the photographer, who died in June at age 87. His other muses included Iris Apfel, Carolina Herrera, Mercedes Bass and Nancy Kissinger.
The will, which was signed in 2010, left his photography archive and negatives to his Boston-based niece, Patricia Jarvis Simonson.
“The wish is that Bill’s archive be kept intact and preserved for the public, in association with an institution like the Met or the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, which he considered his ‘spiritual home,’” sources told Page Six. “There are worries that, under the current arrangement, his photos could be sold off and lost forever.”
Attorney Richard S. Peskin, who was named executor of the 2010 will along with Simonson, told Page Six that he believes “Patricia is going to adhere to the wishes of those who want it preserved as whole.” He also added that he has not “heard of any challenge to the second will.”
A will filed in 1993 left much of Cunningham’s fortune to siblings who have since died and muse Toni “Suzette” Cimino.
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The Times currently does not have permission to reprint any of Cunningham’s images.