Legendary Photographer Peter Beard Is Missing

Beard is best known for his book "The End of the Game" an was last seen in the Hamptons

Peter Beard
Peter Beard in 2018.
Jared Siskin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Peter Beard’s photography and artwork has been on the minds of many since the 1966 release of his book The End of the Game. Publisher Taschen described it as a work that “tells the tale of the enterprisers, explorers, missionaries, and big-game hunters whose quests for adventure and ‘progress’ were to change the face of Africa in the 20th century.” Since then, Beard has made a name for himself for both his use of haunting imagery and for a larger-than-life persona documented in, among other things, this 1996 Vanity Fair article.

This week brings alarming news for admirers of Beard and his work. The New York Times reports that Beard, now 82, has dementia — and he’s currently missing, with police currently searching for him.

On Wednesday afternoon, dozens of police and firefighters, using dogs, drones and thermal imaging equipment, combed the area around Mr. Beard’s waterfront property, where he maintains his studio and lives with his wife, Nejma Beard, who manages his career.

In a 2016 interview with Chris Wallace at Interview, Beard looked back over his long career, which included memorable time spent with the likes of Truman Capote and Terry Southern, as well as Francis Bacon, who painted his portrait. Beard survived being trampled by an elephant in 1996. “He has put a lot into life (still does), and it has responded in kind (still does),” Wallace wrote. “Beard has lived fast and fully, with some of the fastest and fullest to have ever done it.”

Beard was last seen in East Hampton, New York late on Tuesday afternoon.

Update: On April 12, a spokesperson for the Beard family provided the following statement:

“The Beard family is devastated by Peter’s disappearance ten 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 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.”

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