Police Are Searching for 82-Year-Old Celebrity Wildlife Photographer Peter Beard, Who Has Gone Missing on Long Island

The 82-year-old artist has dementia and was last seen in East Hampton, where he lives and works.  

Peter Beard. Photo: Shawn Ehlers/WireImage.
Peter Beard, 2006. Photo: Shawn Ehlers/WireImage.

Peter Beard, a legendary wildlife photographer and fixture of the New York social scene, has gone missing from his home in Montauk. At age 82, Beard has dementia and is considered by East Hampton police to be “vulnerable” and possibly in need of medical attention.

He was last seen on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. wearing a blue pullover fleece and black jogging pants, according to a missing persons alert issued by authorities. Nejma Beard, his wife and studio manager, reported him missing two hours later.

A “full court” search” was launched that night, said East Hampton Town Police Chief Michael Sarlo. The department employed drones, search dogs, county-operated planes, and other resources in the search, which continued through yesterday, according to the East Hampton Star, which first reported the news. 

As of this morning, Beard was still missing.

Peter Beard and Cheryl Tiegs attend the Robert F. Kennedy Pro-Celebrity Tennis Gala on August 24, 1979 at the Rainbow Room in New York City. Photo: Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images.

Peter Beard and Cheryl Tiegs attend the Robert F. Kennedy Pro-Celebrity Tennis Gala on August 24, 1979, at the Rainbow Room in New York City. Photo: Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images.

Beard rose to fame in the early 1970s with the publication of his first book, The End of the Game, which documented African wildlife and the deaths of thousands of elephants in Kenya. By the end of the decade, he was a bona fide celebrity known as much for his downtown New York lifestyle as for his sepia-toned shots of exotic animals.

Good friends with Andy Warhol and rock stars including Mick Jagger and Lou Reed, the photographer also had well-publicized relationships with Candice Bergen, Lee Radziwill, and numerous models—including Cheryl Tiegs, to whom he was married from 1982 to 1986.

In 2017, his portrait of a pair of cheetah cubs sold for $672,500 at Christie’s New York, setting an auction record for the artist.

The police chief said officers are still “patrolling trails, roads, and access points” in East Hampton.


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