Famed photographers Mario Testino and Bruce Weber have been accused of sexual misconduct by male models and former assistants.
In an expose published by The New York Times on Saturday, fifteen current and former male models accused Weber of often ‘unnecessary nudity and coercive sexual behavior, often during photo shoots.
And in the case of Testino – who has often photographed for Vogue and the British royal family – 13 male assistants and models said he ‘subjected them to sexual advances that in some cases included groping and masturbation’.
Both of the photographers had vehemently denied the allegations against them.
‘I’m completely shocked and saddened by the outrageous claims being made against me, which I absolutely deny,’ Weber said in a statement from his attorney.
Lavely & Singer, the law firm that represents Testino, said in a letter in response to these accounts that the individuals who spoke with The Times ‘cannot be considered reliable sources.’
Famed photographers Mario Testino and Bruce Weber have been accused of sexual misconduct by male models. Fifteen current and former male models accused Weber (pictured) of often ‘unnecessary nudity and coercive sexual behavior, often during photo shoots
in the case of Testino (pictured) – who has often photographed for Vogue and the British royal family – 13 male assistants and models said he ‘subjected them to sexual advances that in some cases included groping and masturbation’.
Testino, 63, is one of the most revered names in the photography industry. He shot Prince William and Kate Middleton’s engagement photos, photographed Madonna with her first daughter as a baby for Vanity Fair and TKTK Princess Diana.
He recently photographed the February cover of Vogue, featuring Serena Williams and her daughter and received an Order of the British Empire in 2014. But allegations against him date back to the 1990s while photographing Gucci campaigns.
‘If you wanted to work with Mario, you needed to do a nude shoot at the Chateau Marmont,’ said Jason Fedele, a model in those campaigns. ‘All the agents knew that this was the thing to excel or advance your career.’
Former model Ryan Locke (left) says Testino climbed on top of him during a shoot and said: ‘I’m the girl, you’re the boy’. Terron Wood (right) said Weber forced him to expose his genitals
Robyn Sinclair (left) said that Weber would perform ‘breathing exercises’ with him and even grabbed his privates. Jason Fedele (right) said that Testino would often encourage nudity during photo shoots and would often ‘reach’ for towels
Fedele said the nudity was not what bothered him but rather certain moves such as ‘reaching’ for towels.
‘He was a sexual predator,’ said Ryan Locke, who succeeded Fedele with Gucci.
Locke recalled being hired by Gucci and Testino’s ‘aggressive’ behavior. On the last day of the shoot, Locke was being photographed on a bed when Testino ordered everyone out of the studio.
‘He shuts the door and locks it. Then he crawls on the bed, climbs on top of me and says: ‘I’m the girl, you’re the boy’. I went at him, like ‘You better get away’. I threw the towel on him, put my clothes on and walked out,’ Locke said.
Several assistants said Testno’s behavior towards them was similar.
Hugo Tillman, who worked as an assistant in the 90s, said that Testino grabbed him on the street one night and tried to kiss him.
A few weeks later, while on a business trip, Tillman met Testino in his hotel room where Testino thew him on the bed and pinned him down. Tillman said Testino’s brother came into the room and made the photographer get off Mr. Tillman.
One assistant said he had his pants pulled down and buttocks fondled while on the job. Another claimed Testino masturbated on him during a business trip.
The latter two gave accounts to the Times under the condition of anonymity because they feared career repercussions.
Since the 1970s, Weber, 71, has been one of the most important commercial and fine art photographers.
Models told the Times that Weber would have young, male models visit him in his hotel room where they would perform ‘breathing exercises’ where he places his hands all over their body.
‘I remember him putting his fingers in my mouth, and him grabbing my privates,’ said the model Robyn Sinclair.
‘We never had sex or anything, but a lot of things happened. A lot of touching. A lot of molestation.’
Terron Wood, a model who shot several ad campaigns with Weber between 2007 and 2010, said: ‘The first thing I was told about Bruce was that he puts people in really precarious situations.’
Alone with Weber in his hotel room, the photographer began taking pictures where he ask Wood to grab his shirt, which he was to pull up or down, and the same with the shorts until his genitals were on display.
Wood said he felt guilty because he knew he agreed to the impromptu session because ‘he was the photographer for Ralph Lauren’. Weber would go on to book Wood for a Ralph Lauren campaign.
Model Monty Hooper said Weber told him he had ‘to learn to be more vulnerable’ at a test shoot at the photographer’s TriBeCa studio in 2014.
He stopped undressing before revealing his genitals at which point, Weber led him through a breathing exercise.
Hooper said he was told: ‘If I’m more vulnerable, I’ll go a lot farther in my career modeling.’
New York Times reporter Vanessa Friedman reported that in light of the Times’ investigation into Testino and Weber, Anna Wintour and Condé Nast announced they will not commission either photographer ‘for the foreseeable future’.