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'Maxim' Owner Sardar Biglari Replaced Kate Lanphear

Biglari is named editor-in-chief, while photographer Gilles Bensimon gets a "senior creative position."
Alessandra Ambrosio covers 'Maxim.' Photo: Maxim

Alessandra Ambrosio covers 'Maxim.' Photo: Maxim

When Glenn O'Brien was hired by Maxim in November following Editor-in-Chief Kate Lanphear's exit, he told WWD he would have all the same editorial authority with just a different name — editor at large.  But on Friday, Politico reported that the magazine's owner and publisher Sardar Biglari has been appointed to Lanphear's title. A press representative for Maxim confirmed the news and said that Biglari has been operating in the role since Lanphear left. 

The piece reports that fashion photographer Gilles Bensimon also has a new "senior creative position" at the magazine. Lanphear counts Bensimon as a mentor and he shot most of the magazine's covers since its initial redesign, including Alessandra Ambrosio for the December 2015 issue. The New York Post reported rumors that Ambrosio "reluctantly agreed" to pose in a picture with Biglari during the shoot with the understanding that it would not be published, and alleged that she was not happy that it ended up in the editorial. Maxim vehemently denied the claims and Biglari's legal representative says the story was planted. Biglari sued former fashion director Wayne Gross for his comments about said shoot. 

A Maxim staffer told Politico that Biglari has always had full editorial control over the magazine and threw out a "nearly complete version" of the December issue to implement another redesign, which was announced days before Lanphear's departure in October. Biglari purchased Maxim through his holding company in February 2014 and hired Lanphear to overhaul the men's magazine the following September, much to the fashion industry's surprise. She stayed for a little over a year during which the April, May and June/July 2015 issues sold an average of 22,676 fewer copies on the newsstand than the previous year's equivalents, according to The New York Times

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It appears Lanphear's more sophisticated take on Maxim's tradition of sexualized female imagery didn't resonate with readers. A representative for the magazine said that the December issue, featuring a nude Ambrosio on the cover, was the best seller of the year.