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“Is Terry Richardson an Artist or a Predator?”

That’s the question New York Magazine proposes in its cover story on the famed four-eyed photographer published late last night.

He had a dark and disturbing childhood–and that’s really all we learn about Richardson. (At 3, he had his stomach pumped for the first time after swallowing a “bottle of orange-flavored aspirin,” and then again at 14 after swallowing 40 pills before his heroin addiction in the ’90s). So, that‘s why he’s so messed up, right?

The man behind the thumbs has seen a lot of dark days–but none of them excuse what he may or not have done with the questionable consent of young women who have spoken out against him. Instead of clearing his name and telling his side of the story, the piece, penned by Benjamin Wallace, reads more like a defense of the man who’s been tangled in a wicked web of sexual assault allegations made by many no-name models (the latest from a woman who just last week said she suddenly and reluctantly “felt [his] dick pressing into the side of [her] face” while being shot by him back in 2008). And the article doesn’t exactly answer the question it proffers in its title.

Before you decide for yourself what to make of Terry, here are some of the, perhaps, most telling quotes from the 7,000-plus word article.

1. He thinks the internet is “insane:”

“It’s insane, the internet,” Richardson was saying. “Totally craziness. Like a little cancer. People can just do whatever they want, say whatever they want, be totally anonymous. It’s totally out of control.”

2. That screenshot scandal was “corny” and “ridiculous:”

“‘I’ll put you in Vogue,’” Richardson, in his studio, said bitterly. “So corny. Ridiculous. Who talks like that? When people call me a pedophile and fucking bullshit, that’s a horrible thing to say about someone.”

3. He’s a nice guy, says his famous friends:

“You’d find a line down the block to talk about how generous and warm and gracious he is,” Jared Leto told me.

4. He’s also a shy guy. Well, he used to be…

“Doing that nude work and taking his own clothes off is how he got over his own shyness,” says Dian Hanson. “And he’s got a big dick. And once the world notices that, it’s kind of encouraging to continue taking your clothes off.”

5. He was never alone with any of his subjects on set:

“It was never just me and a girl ever,” Richardson told me at his studio. “It was always assistants, or other people around, or girls brought friends over to hang out. It was very daytime, no drugs, no alcohol. It was a happening, there was energy, it was fun, it was exciting, making these strong images, and that’s what it was. People collaborating and exploring sexuality and taking pictures.”

6. He’s not all….there….

“He has so many blind spots,” says a former close friend. “He has extremely strong and smart instincts, but he doesn’t have a terrifically sophisticated way of analyzing his own work.”

7. His portraits were professionally, and consensually, taken:

“When I was taking those pictures,” he says, “I was very, like, ‘Cool, sounds great, let’s do it, great, okay, sure, great, cool, if not, no problem, never do anything you don’t want to do, of course, I totally respect that.’”

8. And, finally, he has no regrets:

“I don’t have any regrets about the work at all,” he tells me, “but obviously I don’t ever want someone to feel like that. It was never my intention. But also, people do things, and then they have regrets, and that’s also nothing to do with me. Then don’t do pictures like that again … I’m okay with myself about everything, and that to me is the most important thing.”

PHOTO CREDIT & SOURCE: New York Magazine

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