Ivan Bart, the former president of IMG Models who helped launch the modeling careers of the likes of Lauren Hutton, Carolyn Murphy, Stephanie Seymour and Gigi and Bella Hadid, died over the weekend following a short illness. He was 60.
The news was posted on his official Instagram account with a black-and-white photo of Bart. A caption on the photo reads, “Our world has lost one of the greats. Ivan Bart, 1963-2023.” No other details were immediately available.
He was named president of the agency in 2014, after it merged with WME. Under Bart’s leadership, IMG Models also built the careers of Hailey Bieber, Alton Mason, Wisdom Kaye and others.
Throughout his career, Bart championed diverse casting and inclusion and is credited with breaking down barriers for models including Alek Wek, Hari Nef, Precious Lee, Zach Miko, Quannah Chasinghorse and Paloma Elsesser.
He also was a supporter of plus-size models. In 2014, after Ford Models closed its plus-size division, IMG signed Ashley Graham and other plus-size models who had been dropped by Ford. Earlier this year, three of the agency’s plus-size models — Jill Kortleve, Lee and Elsesser — graced the April 2023 cover of British Vogue.
Fashion designers (including Zac Posen and Christian Cowan), models (Shanina Shaik, Karen Elson), stylists and celebrity makeup artists and hairstylists were among those posting condolences on Bart’s Instagram page, many of them in shock at the news. “Heartbreaking,” wrote makeup artist Pat McGrath. “Love you Ivan,” posted Bieber. “I love you Ivan. Have a gentle rest — you beautiful, tenacious, groundbreaking soul. Our hearts are breaking over and over,” wrote Elsesser. Added Rachel Zoe, “I have known and loved Ivan since the day I started in the industry. We have lost the best of the best.”
In a statement, Endeavor president and COO Mark Shapiro called Bart “a trailblazer in the fashion industry.”
“During the course of three decades at IMG Models, Ivan quite literally changed the shape and face of the modeling industry from within,” Shapiro shared. “His relentless pursuit for diversity and inclusion challenged fashion’s gatekeepers and created household names whose omnipresence has inspired generations. I literally sat beside him at a table with the former management team at Victoria’s Secret while he politely argued that they had to change their annual runway television special and diversify their models — size, age, race, background. He was the voice before there was a voice. He was courageous. He saw beauty in all its forms.”
Shapiro also credited Bart for recognizing early on the power of social media in giving a voice to models and effecting social change. He also noted that Bart was behind the company’s decision to acquire The Wall Group, which represents makeup artists, stylists, manicurists and hairstylists and called Bart’s instincts “prescient.”
Bart, who joined IMG in 1994, led global relaunch of the IMG Models’ men’s board in 2012, followed by the launch of the Sydney office. In 2017, Bart oversaw the opening of the Los Angeles office, which represents stars who bridge the worlds of fashion and Hollywood, including Diana Silvers, Lori Harvey, Maddie Ziegler and Millie Bobby Brown. Today, the company operates in New York, London, Los Angeles, Paris, Milan and Sydney.
Four years after being named president of IMG Models, Bart was promoted to add oversight of all of IMG’s global fashion events, including its fashion weeks.
“I feel very privileged to have worked the last couple years pushing our message of inclusivity, and finding new and exciting talent,” Bart told The Music news in 2018 of his then-new role. “Why not bring that to a bigger platform?”
In March, Bart left his post as president to serve as senior adviser. That change was part of a reorganization at parent company Endeavor.
Bart, who lived in Brooklyn, New York, was named one of Business of Fashion’s 500 shaping the global fashion industry and sat on the boards of the Fashion Institute of Technology and the Neuberger Museum of Art. He is survived by his husband, cinematographer Grant Greenberg.