Fashion photographer Richard Avedon’s life was far from glamorous

It was easy to envy — even hate — Richard Avedon.

The legendary photographer, who died in 2004, traveled around the world shooting the most fabulous fashions, the most magnificent models, the most scintillating stars. He hobnobbed with Leonard Bernstein, Truman Capote, Audrey Hepburn, Lauren Hutton. His artistic peers — shutterbugs like Robert Frank and Lee Friedlander — as well as critics scoffed or seethed at his lavishness, his four-story townhouse, fancy museum shows and commercial ad work. It didn’t help that he could be self-aggrandizing, with his expensive, overstuffed coffee table books and blown-up, larger-than-life prints.

Model Dovima poses in front of “Dovima with Elephants” — one of Avedon’s most famous fashion photos.
Model Dovima poses in front of “Dovima with Elephants” — one of Avedon’s most famous fashion photos.Brownie Harris/Corbis via Getty Images

Yet, underneath all that glitter and gloss, Avedon’s personal life was much messier, and more human.

“He suffered,” said Philip Gefter, who has written the new biography of Avedon, “What

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