As we reported in the italian blog Il Post, what was once one of the biggest photo agency is declaring bankruptcy and shutting down operations. In a letter to the staff, president Gary Shank announced that Corbis is closing Sygma agency that it acquired in 1999. As Shank puts it, Corbis "unknowingly" acquired a photo agency with a lax library management process, which resulted in images being lost. Corbis, privately owned by Bill Gates, has invested nearly 100 million euros to solve Sygma problems, and nearly 20 million euros in a project aimed to catalogue, organize and protect the collection in a custom-built facility outside Paris.
But in recent times, Sygma faced many lawsuits from photographers denouncing the loss of their images, and recently a French court ruled against Sygma for 1.5 million euros in a case involving 750 lost images. This, Sygma representatives say, puts the firm in the impossibility to pay its creditors and manage its business, as AP reports in France. Hence, the decision of seeking the bankruptcy and liquidation of the Sygma business in France.
Sygma was founded in 1973. Its online archive, managed by Corbis, will remain accessible.