Ivan Bart, the former president of IMG Models, died on Friday at 60 years old after a short illness. Throughout his long tenure at IMG, Bart helped shape the careers of some of the biggest names in modeling, including Kate Moss, Gisele Bündchen, Joan Smalls, Kate Upton, Bella Hadid, Gigi Hadid, and Tyra Banks. He was a widely respected and beloved executive in an industry that can be very unforgiving and cruel, and he will be remembered for his supportive nature, and his embrace of inclusivity in modeling.
“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,” Mark Shapiro, president and chief operating officer of Endeavor, the company that owns IMG, wrote in a statement.
Bart began his career at IMG models in 1994 as a creative director when the firm was just starting its modeling division. In 2000, he was promoted to senior vice president, and 14 years later was named president. In March 2023, he stepped down from the position,and took on a role as a senior adviser at the agency.
“During the course of three decades at IMG Models, Ivan quite literally changed the shape and face of the modeling industry from within,” Shapiro said. “His relentless pursuit for diversity and inclusion challenged fashion’s gatekeepers and created household names whose omnipresence has inspired generations.” Shapiro recalled sitting in meetings with Bart, who told Victoria’s Secret they had to diversify their model selection. He was never afraid to push for what was right, and he championed the careers of many models who didn’t fit the beauty standard of the industry, like Ashley Graham and Hari Nef. He will be remembered for his progressive work in the world of modeling, as well as his warm nature and generosity. In the wake of his death, many who worked with Bart during his storied career have taken to social media to mourn the loss of the industry titan.
“Ivan. I don’t yet have words for this loss,” the model wrote on her Instagram story. “I will never forget your spirit and hugs, your support and fight for others. Thank you, thank you, thank you…for everything. Rest in peace legend. Mr. Bart, forever ‘My Boss.’ You are so loved.”
The model also shared a handwritten note (originally posted by the Wall Group’s Brooke Wall) that she once wrote to Bart, thanking him for his “support and belief” in her. “Thank you for being such an incredible rock and leader, someone I know I could go to for anything,” she wrote. “I feel so grateful to have you in my life and I hope to always make you proud. You inspire me more than you know.” Hadid rounded out her posts with a little note she once left Bart on his desk, showing her love for the agency executive.
When Ford Models dropped Ashley Graham, and many other plus-sized models in 2014, Bart signed her and others to IMG, where she remains to this day. In the wake of Bart’s death, Graham took to Instagram, saying that she is still processing the news of his death, and will be for a while. “You were one of the most integral parts of my career, your impact has moved mountains and broken down so many walls for myself and so many others,” Graham wrote. “You were such a champion of mine. I can’t thank you enough for the opportunities you have created for me, the time you invested in me, and the help you have given me to navigate such a harsh industry. A storyteller, an icon, a problem solver, a forever friend—I miss you so much already and I love you forever, Ivan.”
Elsesser commented on the Instagram post sharing the news of Bart’s death, writing, “I love you Ivan <3 have a gentle rest—you beautiful tenacious groundbreaking soul. Our hearts are breaking over and over.” She then shared another message on her story. “I love you Ivan,” she wrote again, sending love to his husband, Grant Greenberg. “An icon who changed an industry. My heart breaks for Grant and all those whose lives you touched. You surely touched mine. You will be sorely missed.”
“Shocked and saddened can’t believe I’m seeing this,” Campbell wrote in an Instagram post. “You were such a positive force, and loyal friend. South Africa ’98, right by side. You will be so missed. my deepest condolences to your family and loved ones and chosen family.”
“Rest in peace @ivanmbart. Thank you for seeing,” the actress and model wrote. “You changed my life and many others. I love you forever.”
The British model also shared her thoughts on Instagram, writing, “Rest in peace Ivan, this is just so sad. You were a pioneer in our business and a big hearted human who championed so many.”
It’s not just models who have spoken out about Bart’s death, however. Katie Grand, founder and co-editor-in-chief of Perfect Magazine and frequent W contributor also wrote a message on Instagram. “RIP Ivan, you were a one of a kind and so incredibly kind and generous,” she said. She continued on the Instagram post announcement, commenting, “Ivan was one of a kind, he saw people and recognized their potential and was so funny and witty.”
“Rest in peace sweetest Ivan,” the model wrote in an Instagram Story. “Thank you for all the love, guidance, and friendship.”
The actress and model reminisced on her time working with Bart in the comments of the Instagram announcement. “You were such a special person Ivan,” she wrote. “Sorry we didn’t see each other enough in the last few years, but you were one of the people I knew the longest in this industry and you always supported me. Just devastated to hear that you’re no longer with us.”
Helena Christensen kept it short and sweet in the Instagram comments, focusing on positive memories she shared with Bart. “Very sad news,” she wrote. “[I] am grateful that we had such a lovely time last time I saw you and that we all laughed a lot.”
The stylist also shared her memories with Bart in the comments. “I am at a loss my heart is broken,” she said. “I have known and loved Ivan since the day I started in the industry. We have lost the best of the best…one of one.”
The Council of Fashion Designers of America made a tribute post to Bart, calling him a “trailblazer who championed a better industry and a voice for greater representation.” The CFDA’s CEO Steven Kolb added to the message, saying, “The CFDA is committed to honoring and pursuing the principles Ivan believed. We send our deepest condolences to his family and all those who loved him.”