What began nearly four years ago as a widely publicized legal battle between fashion photographer Bruce Weber and a male model — and then led to a second lawsuit between the lensman and five other male models — has ended considerably quieter.
In 2017, model Jason Boyce alleged that Weber had groped him and kissed him without his consent. After initially filing a complaint in 2019 in the U.S. Southern District of New York against Weber with pseudonyms, five models had to amend their complaint to include their full legal names per a judge’s order. Alleging they were victims of sex trafficking and molestation, the victims described Weber as “a serial sexual predator who used his power in the male modeling industry to fraudulently and forcefully entice aspiring male models into engaging in abusive commercial acts.”
The joint lawsuit was brought forward by Josh Ardolf, Anthony Baldwin, Jacob Madden, Jnana Van Oijen and Buddy Krueger. In September 2020, Krueger’s claims of sexual misconduct against Weber were reportedly dropped.
The Boyce lawsuit was settled last month and the joint complaint have recently been settled, according to a spokesman for Weber and a representative from The Bloom Firm. All six of the men were represented by the high-profile attorney Lisa Bloom of The Bloom Firm. In a filing Tuesday in the U.S. District Court Southern District of New York, the legal action was discontinued with prejudice against the defendant by all plaintiffs, referring to Ardolf, Baldwin, Krueger, Madden and Van Oijen.
Weber declined an interview Tuesday through a spokesman, as did Bloom. The Weber spokesman also declined to comment on the range of settlements, why Weber decided to go this route, how the cases have affected his career and any future projects that Weber has planned.
Weber’s spokesperson said, “Bruce has chosen to put this matter behind and move forward with his life.”
Arick Fudali, partner and managing attorney at The Bloom Firm, offered a nearly verbatim statement, “The parties have chosen to put this matter behind them and move forward with their lives.”
After the allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced, many brands and publications distanced themselves from Weber, whose decades of fashion photography include work for Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Pirelli, Abercrombie & Fitch, Vogue, Revlon and others.
Weber was forthright in denying the accusations in January 2018. At that time, he posted on Instagram, “I want to address the recent allegations made against me. I unequivocally deny these charge and will vigorously defend myself. I have spent my career capturing the human spirit through photographs and am confident, that, in due time, the truth will prevail. I am grateful for the outpouring of support I have received.”
In addition to Weber, fellow high-profile fashion photographer Mario Testino faced allegations of sexual exploitation by models in January 2018. Lawyers for Testino disputed the claims against him at that time. After an investigative piece in The New York Times was published, Condé Nast’s Anna Wintour said the publisher would not work with Weber or Testino for the foreseeable future. A Condé Nast spokeswoman did not respond immediately Tuesday when asked if the publishing house has worked with Weber since then or will again now that the legal matters are settled.
A media request to Testino’s team was not immediately acknowledged Tuesday.
In late 2017, Boyce took legal action against Weber after the #MeToo movement had gained substantial celebrity support. In a March 2019 filing with the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Boyce claimed that after meeting Weber for 10 minutes at a Midtown Manhattan jewelry store in December 2014 at his Soul Artist Management agent’s request, the photographer indicated that he wanted to photograph him. The following day Boyce claimed that he went to Weber’s studio Little Bear for the shoot. His filing alleged that Weber closed the door behind them and after a few minutes of photographing Boyce, Weber put a chair in front of Boyce and put his legs around him.
The allegations included that Weber rubbed oil on his forehead, “making him extremely uncomfortable,” and instructed Boyce to remove his shirt, which he did, before leading the model in a series of breathing exercises, asked Boyce to take off his pants, which he did because he knew he had to nail the photo shoot, according to the filing. Boyce claimed that without his consent, Weber placed his hands on top of Boyce’s and pulled down the model’s underwear. Boyce also alleged that he was forced to rub his own genitals and that Weber allegedly placed Boyce’s hands on Weber’s trousers over his genitals.
in turn, Weber’s legal team reportedly filed a memorandum of law in opposition claiming Boyce sent Weber images of him naked or wearing little clothing before and after the shoot. Boyce also allegedly texted Weber asking when they might work together again.
An investigative article by The Boston Globe in February 2018 exposed allegations of abuse by female models against fashion photographers Patrick Demarchelier, David Bellemere and Greg Kadel as well as stylist Karl Templer. Each of the men denied any wrongdoing.
After being given a wide berth by major fashion brands and magazines for commercial and editorial work, Weber took on more artistic projects, such as the continuation of All-American, a photography and literary journal that he and his wife Nan started. In September 2018, Hercules magazine was among the first to enlist Weber following the models’ legal action.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Weber had not shown any signs of troubled waters on Instagram. A post of a 1997 photo of a dozen or so bare-chested men poolside wearing masks and snorkels from his book “Branded Youth” had 1,702 likes.