Ivan Bart, the former long-time president of IMG Models, died over the weekend after a short illness. He was 60 years old.
His death was confirmed by Mark Shapiro, president and chief operating officer of Endeavor, which owns IMG Models.
Over a 30-year career, Bart helped shape the careers of many of the most sought-after models in the business such as Carolyn Murphy, Stephanie Seymour, Kate Moss, Gisele Bündchen, Joan Smalls, Kate Upton, and Tyra Banks. Bart was well regarded in the industry as an energetic and charismatic executive.
“It is with overwhelming sadness and deep regret that I share that Ivan Bart, long-time president of IMG Models and a trailblazer in the fashion industry, passed away over the weekend,” Shapiro said in an email to employees.
Born in 1963 and raised in Brooklyn, Bart received his college degree in psychology. He started doing public relations for a firm, which had a very small modeling agency attached to it and he learned the business. In 1994, he became creative director of IMG Models, which was just starting a model division, and the firm had just signed Niki Taylor and Tyra Banks.
“During the course of three decades at IMG Models, Ivan quite literally changed the shape and face of the modeling industry from within. His relentless pursuit for diversity and inclusion challenged fashion’s gatekeepers and created household names whose omnipresence has inspired generations,” Shapiro related in the e-mail.
Shapiro said that he literally sat beside Bart 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 in terms of size, age, race and background.
Shapiro noted that Bart was an early adopter of social media and an advocate for the power it gave models to be heard, not just seen. “He knew innately that a picture was worth a thousand words, and the images he helped create became a necessary catalyst for social change,” he said.
“Being in Ivan’s world was awe-inspiring,” said Shapiro. “Attending fashion shows and events with him in Milan, Paris, Miami, Lisbon, London and New York and just tailing him, being at his side, witnessing him work the room, was exhilarating,” said Shapiro.
Bart stepped down from IMG Models last March and became a senior advisor at the agency. During his tenure, the agency signed models such as Ashley Graham and other plus-size models, along with Hari Nef, Maye Musk and Ella Emhoff. He also headed up IMG’s global business events. IMG’s fashion events group owns, operates and/or commercially represents fashion properties such as New York Fashion Week: The Shows.
Bart received the Social Impact Award at FIT’s Annual Awards Gala in 2018, and said during his acceptance speech that he was raised by a single mother and had an aunt who both influenced and shaped who he became, and perhaps even inspired him to manage women’s careers. He was presented the award by IMG model and actress Carolyn Murphy, who said that it has always been Bart’s personal mission to break the social modes, push boundaries and be more inclusive.
Bart pointed out that a current Lauder campaign that featured Joan Smalls, Carolyn Murphy, Fei Fei Sun and Hilary Rhoda not only signified inclusivity but also sent a strong message “that no woman is excluded from luxury products and women of color have real spending power.”
“What we see in advertising and the runway must reflect who we all are,” said Bart. He said he had advocated for plus-size models such as Candice Huffine, Ashley Graham, Precious Lee and Zach Miko to get work. “Our team worked together to push these talented models into the mainstream and it’s working,” he said.
Bart is survived by his husband, Grant Greenberg, his family, many friends and the IMG family, said Shapiro.
This story is in development.