Celebrity Photographers Mario Testino and Bruce Weber Accused of Sexual Misconduct by Male Models
Photographers Mario Testino and Bruce Weber have been accused of sexual harassment by multiple male assistants and models, according to a new exposé from The New York Times
According to the Times, the detailed allegations of sexual harassment against Testino include unwanted sexual advances, groping and masturbation.
Testino is a favorite photographer of celebrities, and the 63-year-old recently shot Serena Williams’ February Vogue cover. He has also done photo shoots for Prince William and Princess Kate (including their 2010 engagement portrait) as well as the late Princess Diana.
In one of the allegations, Hugo Tillman — a former assistant of Testino’s — told the Times that he began working as a freelance assistant for the famous photographer in 1996, shortly after he graduated from college, saying he “really looked up to” the famed photographer.
Tillman — who later moved to Paris to work full time as one of Testino’s assistants — claimed he “was often made to feel uncomfortable on shoots” and was asked “to massage Mario in front of other assistants, models and fashion editors.”
Tillman alleged that following a dinner one night, Testino grabbed him and tried to kiss him on the street. A few weeks later, Tillman claimed that when he went up to Testino’s hotel room during a business trip, the photographer allegedly told him to roll a joint, and then allegedly threw Tillman on the bed, and climbed on top of him, pinning his assistant’s arms to the bed.
Tillman claimed that the encounter was stopped by Testino’s brother, after he walked in and saw what was happening. Tillman says he quit the next weekend.
In a statement to the Times, Lavely & Singer — the law firm representing Testino — said the allegations against Testino were made by individuals who “cannot be considered reliable sources.”
Lawyers for Testino also told the Times that the photographer’s brother “is adamant that no such incident ever took place” and said the former assistant had previously spoken well of Testino.
PEOPLE’s request for comment from Lavely & Singer and Testino’s representatives were not immediately returned.
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The Times also reported that fifteen current and former male models had made sexual misconduct allegations against Weber, a photographer known for his sexually provocative Calvin Klein ads in the ’90s.
The detailed allegations of sexual misconduct made against Weber — who frequently shot models in the nude — included “breathing exercises” led by the photographer, which allegedly resulted in groping and coercive sexual behavior.
In a statement made to the Times, Weber said that he was “completely shocked and saddened by the outrageous claims being made against me, which I absolutely deny.”
“I have used common breathing exercises and professionally photographed thousands of nude models over my career, but never touched anyone inappropriately. Given my life’s work, these twisted and untrue allegations are truly disheartening. I’ve been taking pictures for over 40 years and have the utmost respect for everyone I’ve ever photographed. I would never, ever, try to hurt anyone or prevent someone from succeeding — it’s just not in my character,” he continued.
PEOPLE’s request for comment for Weber’s reps was not immediately returned.
Following news of the allegations, media company Condé Nast — whose magazines like Vanity Fair and Vogue often worked with the two photographers — announced on Saturday they would stop working with the two men “for the foreseeable future.”
“We are deeply disturbed by these accusations and take this very seriously. In light of these allegations, we will not be commissioning any new work with Bruce Weber and Mario Testino for the foreseeable future,” wrote Anna Wintour — Condé Nast’s artistic director and editor of Vogue — and Robert A. Sauerberg Jr, chief executive of Condé Nast, according to the Times.
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In September, Condé Nast reportedly blacklisted fashion photographer Terry Richardson — who has photographed everyone from Rihanna to Miley Cyrus — from working with magazines such as Vogue, Vanity Fair and GQ in the wake of years of sexual harassment allegations. Richardson has denied the allegations made against him.
In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the fashion industry is also standing up against sexual harassment. W Magazine reported Cameron Russell devoted her Instagram to dozens of DMs from models sharing their stories of assault, tagging each with the hashtag #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse.
Victoria’s Secret model Sara Sampaio also called out the French magazine Lui for allegedly publishing nude photos of her without her consent, and Karen Elson revealed that a model scout tried to have sex with her when she was just 16. Christy Turlington has also spoken out about the industry being “surrounded by predators.”