The fashion world is mourning the loss of former IMG Models president Ivan Bart, who has died at the age of 60. His death was announced on social media last night with a black and white photo of him with an accompanying caption that read, “Our world has lost one of the greats. Ivan Bart, 1963-2023.” His death was confirmed by Mark Shapiro, president and chief operating officer of Endeavor, which owns IMG models.
Bart was an industry trailblazer, who helped launch the careers of Gigi and Bella Hadid, Carolyn Murphy, Joan Smalls, Stephanie Seymour, Hailey Bieber, Kate Upton, and countless others. He was also a champion of inclusivity and signed models such as Ashley Graham, Halima Aden, Hari Nef, Precious Lee, and Paloma Elsesser. He spoke about the need for diversity in a 2014 interview with The Daily stating: “We’re selling talent, so by introducing men, women of different sizes, and various backgrounds, we want to be weightless, genderless, and ageless. We want to represent the best of every body type— more size sixes, eights, and 12s. There are people who are naturally thin and can slip into a size zero, but I’d really like a more diverse group. I don’t know why it’s so set on the sample sizes. I don’t know why we can’t see what a good size eight looks like on the runway.”
Bart was born in Brooklyn, New York and graduated from the State University of New York at Albany with a degree in psychology. He began his career doing public relations for a firm, which had a small modeling agency attached to it. In 1994, he became creative director of IMG Models. He previously told The Daily about his early days at the agency and how it became the giant that it did. “I started in 1994, and my directive at the time was to make it a fashionable modeling firm,” he said. “They were already on the right road, thanks to Tyra Banks and Nikki Taylor. By 1997, we had signed Angela Lindvall, Carolyn Murphy, and Bridget Hall. And then in 1998, Gisele [Bündchen] signed with us. In 2000, Kate Moss joined. In 2003, there was a shift in the industry—it was the era of the working model, ephemeral beauties like Gemma Ward and Lily Cole—real, natural, beautiful women. Not all these models had huge personalities, but they were great workers and had personal lives.”
Bart worked his way up and became a senior director in 2000 and was eventually promoted to senior vice president and managing director, directing the operations of talent management in IMG’s worldwide offices. He was named president of IMG Models in 2014. In his role, he also headed up IMG’s global fashion events business, which owns fashion properties such as New York Fashion Week: The Shows. He stepped down from the company in March of this year and became a senior advisor at the agency.
In a 2018 interview with The Daily, Bart reflected on his own career and how his experience had helped catapult models to global stardom. “What has changed? I have more experience now,” he said. “I’m better equipped to navigate, and I have more confidence. I breathe through problems better. What I didn’t understand until a few years ago is what a gift and platform the industry has been. We create careers, and a lot of our clients have come through our door or amassed tremendous wealth and taken care of their kids in a different way than they might have otherwise. Their kids now have better opportunities because of the work that these models did. I truly understand that when kids open up their fashion magazine for the first time, what they see needs to reflect who they are.”
Friends and talent such as Fern Mallis, Katie Grand, Edward Enninful, Cindy Crawford, RJ King, Jennifer Starr, Sailor Brinkley Cook, John Legend, Gigi Hadid, Ashley Graham, Rachel Zoe, and many more have left notes celebrating him on Instagram.
The Daily’s founder and CEO Brandusa Niro said today, “Ivan and I spent eight years working together nearly every day while we were both at IMG, always brainstorming about the next big model and often frantically preparing our quarterly presentations for the board—he for models, me for media—and holding each other up when the going got tough. We remained close after The Daily became its own entity outside of IMG, and we often talked about our commitment and passion for our work, and our love for the people in this industry. I was deeply saddened by his departure, earlier this year, from the business that he had built from scratch, his baby, and in many ways: his life. Ivan was the most brilliant, intuitive, warm, and savvy person in our fashion insider world. How do we go on without him? It’s as if we lost a limb. We will survive but never be whole again.”
Bart is survived by his husband, Grant Greenberg, his family, friends, and the IMG family. He will be deeply missed.