Noted Photographer Peter Beard Dead At 82

Peter Beard, Montauk, 2016. Independent/Courtesy Zara Beard

Noted photographer and artist Peter Beard was found dead Sunday, April 19, in a thick wooded area not far from his Montauk home.

Beard, 82, had been reported missing by his wife, Nejma, late in the afternoon on March 31. According to East Hampton Town police, Beard needed medication and was suffering from dementia.

A police command post near the home of photographer Peter Beard on Old Montauk Highway in Montauk, April 1. Independent/T.E. McMorrow

The department launched a search early morning April 1, deploying helicopters, harbor patrol, and canine units, but were hindered by the extremely dense woods surrounding Beard’s property on Old Montauk Highway, about a mile east of Deep Hollow Ranch.

“He was relentless in his passion for nature,” a Sunday statement by Beard’s family read. “Peter was an extraordinary man who led an exceptional life. He lived life to the fullest; he squeezed every drop out of every day. He was an intrepid explorer, unfailingly generous, charismatic, and discerning. His visual acuity and elemental understanding of the natural environment was fostered by his long stays in the bush and the ‘wild-deer-ness’ he loved and defended.”

Peter Beard and his daughter, Zara. Independent/Lisa Tamburini

Police reported Sunday afternoon that a hunter who knew the terrain found an article of clothing that matched the description of what Beard had been wearing when he disappeared. The hunter made the discovery a little after 9 AM. A search immediately ensued, police said, and Beard’s body was found nearby.

Beard’s family discussed his work as an artist, and his legacy.

Peter Beard, Montauk, 2016
Independent/Courtesy Zara Beard

“Peter defined what it means to be open; open to new ideas, new encounters, new people, new ways of living and being,” his family’s statement said. “Always insatiably curious, he pursued his passions without restraints and perceived reality through a unique lens. Anyone who spent time in his company was swept up by his enthusiasm and his energy. He was a pioneering contemporary artist who was decades ahead of his time in his efforts to sound the alarm about environmental damage. He died where he lived: in nature. We will miss him every day.”

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