Nejma Beard, Peter Beard

CALL FOR PRIVACY: While the East Hampton Police Department’s investigation into the disappearance of photographer Peter Beard continues, his family released a statement Monday highlighting how he should be thought of and requesting privacy as they await further news.

The 82-year-old Beard was reported missing from his Montauk, N.Y., home on March 31. Following an extensive three-day-search, the case was turned over to detectives in the East Hampton Police Department on April 3. Detective Sgt. Daniel Toia said Monday, “It’s still ongoing. We’re following up on investigative leads as we get them from the public. We have exhausted our physical search on the ground.”

A spokeswoman for Beard’s family released this statement Monday, “The Beard family is devastated by Peter’s disappearance 10 days ago, and while they continue to hope and pray for his safety, they have been advised that each passing day darkens the prospect of his safe return. It is most important to the family that at this confusing and uncertain time Peter be thought of as the person he is and the way he has always lived; an extraordinary artist, an insatiable traveler, a hero of the conservation movement, a lover of life, of Africa, of adventure, of his family and friends.”

The statement continued, “The family remains in regular contact with the East Hampton police, who are leading the investigation into his disappearance. The family asks for privacy as they await further news.”

The intrepid Beard spent much of his career chronicling Africa with his images. In 1996 after being gored in the hip by what he described as “the elefante,” Beard required seven plates and 28 pins in his leg to regain his mobility. Although he ran with the society crowd and partied at Studio 54 in his younger days, Beard has always been his own man. His quick wit has won over many through the years. At the opening of his “Carnets Africains” exhibition in Paris in 1996, he sardonically said of the crush of well-wishers, “A lot of density and stress — my two favorite things.”

Beard’s family has received “lots of outreach about Peter’s disappearance from many media outlets, but more importantly to them, [they have heard] from friends of the family from around the world,” the family’s spokeswoman said.

The all-out search for Beard included coordination among several law enforcement agencies including the East Hampton Police, New York State Police, New York State Park Police, New York State Environmental Conservation Police and Suffolk County Police, Toia said. In addition to drones, a helicopter from Suffolk County’s aviation unit was used. Canines from various police units were used on the ground and New York State park rangers helped with the search. “There were lots of boots on the ground,” Toia said. “If leads come in, we will follow up on them.”

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