Controversial Photographer David Hamilton Dies Amid Rape Allegations

Some sources claim it was suicide.

The photographer David Hamilton in 2006. Photo INGO WAGNER/AFP/Getty Images.
The photographer David Hamilton in 2006. Photo INGO WAGNER/AFP/Getty Images.

David Hamilton, the British photographer and film director best known for his grainy images featuring nude teenage girls, died in Paris this past Friday. Hamilton, 83, was found unconscious by a neighbor, and died shortly after, the Guardian reports.

The circumstances of his death, however, remain unclear. According to police sources quoted by the Telegraph and the Guardian, the photographer died by suicide, with Variety claiming he was found with a bag over his head. Meanwhile, AFP quotes an “informed source” as saying the photographer died of a heart failure, and that medication was found near his body.

Hamilton’s death comes barely a month after four of his former models had accused him of rape, alleging different assaults in the 1960s and 1980s.

One of his accusers, the French radio presenter Flavie Flament, 42, published her autobiography titled La Consolation on October 19, in which she explores events of her youth, including being raped by a famous photographer during a shoot in the 1980s. Hamilton isn’t named in the book, but the cover is an image of Flament taken by him.

Cover of the book La Consolation by Flavie Flament, featuring a photo of the presenter taken by David Hamilton in the 1980s. Courtesy JC Lattès.

Cover of the book La Consolation by Flavie Flament, featuring a photo of the presenter taken by David Hamilton in the 1980s. Courtesy JC Lattès.

The presenter told French media that three other women had contacted her with similar allegations.

On Tuesday, three days before his death, Hamilton denied the allegations to AFP while confirming that Flament had been his model. “I have done nothing improper,” he said.

On Friday, Flament’s editor Karina Hocine told AFP the presenter was “devastated” by Hamilton’s death. “Naturally, we feel horrified and, at the same time, really disgusted that there was not enough time for justice to run its course,” Hocine said.

Born in London in 1933, Hamilton moved to Paris at the age of 20, where he began working as graphic designer for Elle magazine. His success eventually led him to a job as art director of Printemps, Paris’ largest department store. It was then that he began to photograph, honing his self-taught style and technical skills, characterized by a blurry, grainy look.

He was highly successful in both the publishing industry—shooting for prestigious fashion magazines including Vogue and Elle and publishing dozens of photography books—and in the art world, showing and selling his images in museums and commercial galleries across the world.

David Hamilton poses with Monika Broeke, the main actress of his film First Desires on November 14, 1983 in Nice. Photo PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images.

David Hamilton poses with Monica Broeke, the main actress of his film First Desires on November 14, 1983 in Nice. Photo PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images.

He also authored five feature films, including the erotic movie Bilitis (1977), starring his first wife, Mona Kristensen.

His work with young teenage girls as models brought Hamilton accusations of child pornography, and some of his books have been banned in certain countries, including South Africa.


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