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Garry Gross, notorious for nude photos of 10-year-old Brooke Shields, dies at 73

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By Cristian Salazar
Wednesday, December 8, 2010; 9:13 PM

Garry Gross, 73, a fashion photographer known for his 1970s nude images of Brooke Shields, taken when she was 10 years old, died Nov. 30 from a heart attack at his home in the Greenwich Village section of New York City.

Mr. Gross earned his reputation as a celebrity image-maker, with pictures that graced the covers of albums by Whitney Houston and Lou Reed.

But it was his images of Shields from the 1970s that marked his career most significantly. In 1975, the actress's mother, Teri Shields, consented to allow her daughter, then a child model, to be photographed nude for a Playboy Press publication. She and her mother earned $450 for the shoot, which included a full-frontal nude image of the girl standing in a bathtub.

When Shields's acting career took off years later, she said she was embarrassed by the continued circulation of the images. At 17, she sued Mr. Gross to stop him from selling the images, arguing they were an invasion of her privacy and caused her embarrassment.

After a lower court granted her an injunction, a New York court of appeals decided 4 to 3 that Shields could not break the contract signed by her mother that allowed Gross to take the pictures.

The court said Mr. Gross could continue to market the photos except to pornographic publications.

The photo shoot continued to make headlines decades later. In 2009, one of the images, appropriated by American artist Richard Prince for a work, had to be withdrawn by the Tate Modern museum in London after Scotland Yard warned that the image could break obscenity laws.

According to Jane Feldman, who managed the studio where the photographs of Shields were taken, they were part of a series by Mr. Gross that explored the theme of young women coming of age.

"Garry saw it as art," she said. "It's an exploration, but it was done with great respect."

Feldman said the protracted court battle cost Mr. Gross his career, saddling him with legal fees and marring his reputation among art directors.

In 2002, Mr. Gross switched careers and became certified as a dog trainer. Most recently, he had turned to photographing portraits of canines, including such notable dogs as food show host Rachael Ray's pit bull Isaboo.

Garry Donald Gross was born Nov. 6, 1937, in the Bronx, N.Y. He graduated from the City College of New York, then studied under photographers Francesco Scavullo, Lisette Model and Richard Avedon.

After winning the court case against Shields in 1981, Mr. Gross lived in Italy for several years.

After becoming a dog trainer, he became interested in the plight of older dogs and had hoped to publish a book of photographs about them.

- Associated Press


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