For over four decades, Leif-Erik Nygårds has been known for his portraits of celebrities ranging from world leaders to athletes and Hollywood celebrities. His work has been published everywhere from Playboy to Look, to Life magazine.
Born in Stockholm and raised in Töcksfors, a small village on Sweden’s western border, Mr. Nygårds developed an interest in photography early on. He started his career if 1960 with a progressive group of Swedish photographers called Tio Fotografer (Ten Photographers). After six months with them he packed his bags and moved to New York City where he worked as an assistant to both Bert Stern and Irving Penn.
Although the faces in his current work, Backstage, are enough to impress on their own, even more impressive is Nygårds’ ability to create an intimate personal connection with his subjects. His portraits provide us with a telling glimpse of the person inside the celebrity. And as seen
in his landscape section, his eye for nature is equally exceptional.
The Marilyn Monroe Photo
Leif-Erik Nygård took this iconic photo of Marilyn Monroe at the Bel Air Hotel in LA just a few weeks before she was found dead. It is the very last photo ever taken of Marilyn Monroe. At the time he was working as an assistant to the world renowned photographer Bert Stern. They were at the hotel to do a photo shoot with Marilyn Monroe for Vouge Magazine. Bert Stern kept asking her if he could take a nude photo but she kindly reclined. After the shoot was over Bert Stern left the hotel and Nygård was left to clear out all the equipment. He asked if he could take a photo of his own of Marilyn, who agreed. When he came back with his camera she had pulled the sheets back and allowed him to take the now iconic photo.
Nygård kept the photo secret for 22 years. The photo was first published in 1984 in Playboy Magazine, when the magazine celebrated its 30th anniversary. Marilyn Monroe posed for Playboy in the very first issue.