Famed wildlife photographer Peter Beard was found dead nearly three weeks after he first went missing, his family has confirmed.
Beard’s remains were recovered at Camp Hero State Park on Sunday at around 9 a.m., The East Hampton Press reports. Authorities were dispatched to the scene after a hunter called to report that they’d found clothing similar to what Beard was last seen wearing; after searching the grounds, authorities discovered the remains of an elderly man whose description matched Beard’s in a wooded area, according to the outlet. Police had the remains sent to the Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s office, where officials are expected to verify the man’s identity.
Beard’s family confirmed his death in a statement shared on his official website on Sunday.
“We are all heartbroken by the confirmation of our beloved Peter’s death,” it reads. “We want to express our deep gratitude to the East Hampton police and all who aided them in their search, and also to thank the many friends of Peter and our family who have sent messages of love and support during these dark days.”
Beard was 82 years old and had developed dementia; he had also had at least one stroke, according to The New York Times. He is survived by his wife, Nejma Beard, and his daughter, Zara Beard.
Nejma was the last one to see Beard alive, having seen her husband outside on their six-acre property in Montauk, New York on the afternoon of March 31, The Times reports. Following his disappearance, authorities and his loved ones embarked on a search that involved more than 75 people as well as helicopters and dogs.
Days after Beard vanished, a post on his Instagram page stated that his family was “devastated” by his disappearance and, although they continued to pray for good news, had been informed that “each passing day darkens the prospect of his safe return.”
Beard was known for his love of nature and exploring, a life-long fascination which culminated in award-winning wildlife photography. He spent his adult years living in Kenya and New York, and was known to collaborate with well-known artists such as Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, and Salvador Dali.
As Beard’s family described him in their statement, he 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 relentless in his passion for nature, unvarnished and unsentimental but utterly authentic always. He was an intrepid explorer, unfailingly generous, charismatic, and discerning,” their statement reads, in part. “Peter defined what it means to be open: open to new ideas, new encounters, new people, new ways of living and being. 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.”
Following the confirmation of Beard’s passing, notable figures like Mick Jagger took to social media to share their condolences, with Jagger writing, “Sad to hear my dear friend Peter Beard has died, he was a visionary artist and photographer, who wasn’t afraid to take risks. My thoughts are with his wife Nejma and daughter Zara.”
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