Etan Patz’s Father Pulls Etan’s Photos

Professional photographer Stanley Patz revoked the AP's right to distribute images of Etan.

 Etan Patz’s Father Pulls Etan’s Photos

Etan Patz as taken by his father, Stanley Patz in 1978. This photograph was taken from Wikipedia where it is listed under a Creative Commons attribution license.

More than 30 years after his son Etan became one of the first missing children to appear on a milk carton, Stanley Patz has withdrawn distribution rights for his photographs from the Associated Press.

In a statement, the AP said it had removed four photos of Etan from their database and instructed its member newspapers do the same. The request came shortly after the April excavation of a Soho basement failed to uncover Etan’s remains and before Pedro Hernandez’s confession thrust the grieving family back into the media spotlight.

When 6-year-old Etan disappeared on the streets of Soho in 1979, the Patzs believed circulating the collection of personal photos (Mr. Patz is a professional photographer) would aid in their son’s speedy return. Instead, they helped make it one of the most sensational and heartbreaking media stories of the decade.

As John Miller, a CBS News senior correspondent who covered Etan’s disappearance story for Channel 5 News, told The Observer in its oral history of the media spectacle: “You had this clear-eyed, bonde-haired boy, with this impish grin who would mug for the camera in different ways, and a father who had hundreds of high-quality photographs. It was something that was very organized for television and the newspapers because of the imagery.”

front052812 Etan Patz’s Father Pulls Etan’s Photos

Saturday’s Post.

“The photograph,” author Anna Quindlen, then a New York Times reporter said. “There’s probably no little boy who’s ever been photographed in history who is as alive in the frame as that child is in those photographs.”

Indeed, the iconic story’s re-emergence is a boon to tabloids, especially since the revocation of the AP’s distribution rights doesn’t apply the publishing permissions that the Patz family gave individual news outlets, according to one New York photo editor. In the meantime—as any hacked starlet can attest—the Internet has made controlling an image’s circulation virtually impossible.

But since Etan was legally declared dead in 2001, the photographs’ emotional impact—and their enduring ability to sell newspapers—only serve to extend his family’s pain.

“I wish this could end,” Etan’s mother Julie Patz, told the Daily News. “This is taking my freedom away. I just wish this could be over.”

Mr. Patz taped a sign outside his Soho loft, addressed to “all the media people hanging around here.”

“You have managed to make a difficult decision even worse,” he wrote. “It is past time for you to leave me, my family and my neighbors alone.”

Article continues below
More from Style & Design
Princess Olympia of Greece and Denmark 

The only daughter of Pavlos and Marie-Chantal, the Crown Prince and Princess of Greece, has quite the Instagram presence. Her posts include front row shots from NYFW, tacos with friends at La Esquina and soft serve at Cha Cha Matcha, all for her 98,000 followers. The Parsons School of Design student is also quite the jet-setter, spending time in New York, London, Los Angeles and Hong Kong (and that's just in the last month). She pulled the ultimate royal move and was rumored to have been dating her godfather's son, Prince Harry. She is his type: blonde and aristocratic, with a major penchant for hipster, Coachella-worthy ensembles, just like his ex Cressida Bonas. The 20-year-old princess counts Hollywood elite Sofia Richie and fellow royal (and cousin) Talita von Fürstenberg as pals. Unlike other New York City college students who celebrated their birthdays dancing on tables at Greek restaurants in the East Village, Princess Olympia spent hers in Mykonos, despite not speaking a word of Greek. Her mother worked for Andy Warhol before marrying into the royal family. Yes, her whole life is all very Gossip Girl.
Watch The Throne: These 8 Young Royals Could Be The Next Kate Middleton