More Flim-Flam From Thorsten von Overgaard

Thorsten Overgaard and his Elephant Skin Camera Bag with Cashmere Lining. Perfect for your Sultan of Brunei Leica While Photographing Danish Royalty.

Luxury Camera Bags and Luxury Bespoke Suitcases for World Travelers
by Thorsten von Overgaard

You want the ideal product that fulfills all of your needs, made to make you happy every time you touch it, and made to last forever

Thorsten von Overgaard travel [sic] to more than 25 countires a year and live [sic] his life in a suitcase. Every bag is put to maximum use.

Thorsten von Overgaard and Matteo Perin joined forces to design luxury travel bags for people who appreciate the best and demands durability for a lifetime.


Thorsten von Overgaard [he’s added the “von” recently – “von” traditionally denoting aristocracy***] has transitioned into the luxury camera bag business. Apparently, when Goyard in Paris wouldn’t fix Thorsten’s Goyard Aplin backpack, damaged while travelling to his Royal Mongolian yurt, Overgaard decided to make his own bags. To do so, he sought “the best artisans […] using best possible materials, based on many years of experience, resulting in a product that could last for generations.” The end result is him “joining forces” with some fellow Scientologist meatball named Matteo Perin to produce crocodile and elephant skin bags. Who he’s partnered with to shoot the elephants to skin for the bespoke bags is not clear. Perin claims he “makes trunks, blankets and all the luxury items you can think of, for private airplanes, villas, cars and yachts.” Right.

It’s always been obvious to me that “von Overgaard” is a transparent huckster, a confidence man preying on  gullible low-hanging fruit, spinning some bullshit narrative about luxury and beautiful people and world travels and Leica, this just being further proof that a sucker is born every minute and some of those suckers will end up buying a Leica and taking a street shooter’s seminar with  “von Overgaard.”


*** Overgaard, who for some reason started referring to himself as “von Overgaard” a year or so ago, took up photography in 2005. Before that he worked in a lumber mill [true]. He seems to have no real gallery or publishing or photographic industry presence other than self-promoted fluff pieces hyped by a marketing agency and some self-published books. A deep dive into the footnotes of his scantily sourced Wiki is hilarious. Here’s some more interesting info on Mr. Overgaard.
Overgaard is married to fellow Scientologist “Princess Joy Villa.” The Princess was born in Orange, California, to the Rev. Joseph Villa, of Italian descent, and Mildred Angela Pierce Villa, of Afro-American and Native American blood. She attended Lompoc Public High School, no University education noted.  According to her Wikipedia page she is an “actress and producer,” “her acting career mostly consists of minor, un-credited appearances on television. These roles include an umbrella-wielding carny in a “Heroes” Season 4 episode.”  As for her claim to be a “producer,” no production experience is referenced. On October 27, 2017, apparently unfamiliar with the residency requirements for elected office, Villa announced that she was considering running for US Congress as a Republican in either Florida, California, or New York.   Her Wikipedia page contains no further update on her political ambitions since that time, nor any further “minor, un-credited” acting gigs, with or without umbrella.

Matteo Perin has been doing bespoke luxury for millionaires and celebrities for years.” [Sure he has.] Apparently, in between hobnobbing with all those aristocrats nobody bothered to teach Monsieur Perin to keep his feet off the Florentine ebony table. Obviously “New Money.” 

*************

Perin, presumably, modelling a croc duffle bag which apparently has no room for the M4. Someone needs to tell this guy to tie his shoes.

30 thoughts on “More Flim-Flam From Thorsten von Overgaard

  1. Pritam Singh

    A most enjoyable piece! I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry; but cringe I did.
    I had the urge to look up what “to dress like a pimp” would throw up on Google…
    Shooting elephants with an M4! What a hoot.

  2. Finny

    Overgaard is a member of the Scientology, church, as is Travolta. On the Perin website, Travolta is called a celebrity, who takes care of Perin clothing. Therefore, I would not be surprised if Perin also belongs to Scientology and thus has met Overgaard.
    So everyone belongs to the same “club”. One hypes the other.
    And for the “von” in Overgaards name….
    If you look at his website (and I have been following it for over 10 years), you will notice that he has suddenly become “noble” only in the last few years. If he really would be, why didn’t he mentioned it from the beginning, as vain as he is…? 😉

    just my 2cts

  3. Elizabeth

    I’ve been around the world a few times and the wealthiest people I know may fly around in their private jets or fly commercial, depending… do their best to try not to stand out or look different so they don’t get notices, robbed, mugged or kidnapped.

  4. chrism

    Overgaard is an absolute shithead. Leica or not. “Scientology” or not. Still a shithead. Get that, Scientology landbase? A shithead. Not worthy of a fake, for profit “religion” nor of any self-respecting photographers, using Leicas or anything else. A shithead. I hope I made myself clear (not “clear” in the Scientology sense, obviously, but actually clear.)

  5. Sascha

    The *von* Thorsten — not only Danes, practically all decent Europeans, whether they’re living in a monarchy, or a republic, feel embarrassed when meeting a self proclaimed nobleman …

  6. Joaquin

    Great analysis, when looks prevail over esence and the only requisite to join the club is the size of your wallet.

  7. insolublepancake

    I always thought Overgaard’s site was a bit slimy. A quick google search turned up this wonderful article (http://www.scientologynews.org/press-releases/meet-a-scientologist-thorsten-overgaard.html), which contains this wonderful quote, ““I was about the last person to realize I had some special talent. But one day in 2005 I thought, ‘Well, why not? I can be a photographer.’ And from that day on, I was,” he says.” So, no need to buy expensive on-line courses?

  8. Nick

    That is too much honor to talk about these self-important persons. Unfortunately, Leica seems to attract such bozos…

  9. alex t

    It is very sad to hear that it is really made from elephant skin. Elephants are such wonderful creatures! Thinking on Bill Brands book. And the they get killed just to fullfill “von’s Snobs” travel allures. Disgusting!! Absolutely disgusting!! Shame on you Overgaard!!!

  10. Warren Maas

    When I see his latest and greatest article, a reflexive eye roll ensues. His latest seems to be 90% off his extensive list of overpriced pearls on the Leica. I noticed that his wife, Joy Villa, is no longer referred to as “Princess” Joy Villa. Guess they couldn’t find any royal lineage.

  11. Rob Campbell

    Why bother visiting his site at all?

    On the other hand, his friend has nice hair, and I sure could use a little replacement if there is any going spare… But no, I wouldn’t pay for it, of course. Nothing wrong with being rich; just needs a little intelligence to go along with the wallet, and that can happen, too. Usually, it’s about the only reliable way to become rich from a standing start of around zero.

  12. Pierre

    Overgaard is a joke, but you lose credibility by not being aware that sneakers can be worn with “laces out” too.

  13. Aaron Greenman

    Love it! I have tried to provide a healthy mind mocking and skepticism of Mr. Von Overhyped for a while now online but most people seem either to be too deferential or polite.

    It’s people like this who unfortunately make Leica easier to ridicule…….

    ACG

    1. Leicaphila Post author

      Most online denizens are herd animals (my readers excluded). They look to be told what to think. Mr. Overwrought spins the appropriate bullshit and they buy it unquestioningly. A craven charlatan milking ignorant suckers, the sort of con man who exploits money and naivete.

  14. Rob Campbell

    Well, it’s really part of the human condition: people don’t like the idea that not everyone can win, and so they have to believe that but for opportunity they, too, can be as good as the next man, and photography is one of those worlds where the route to greatness is imagined to lie somewhere between expensive apparatus and courses when, really, it’s one of those things like music, where you either have it or you do not, and buying it is not a realistic option.

    Of course one can learn mechanics – they have never been more easy, but that is not the same thing as being able to do anything with those pesky bodies and lenses once you know how they work. The bit that matters is always between one’s ears, and if not present in any meaningful way, that’s pretty much it.

    And even when some imagination exists, there are dry times as there are those when you can’t stop finding something everywhere you look. I don’t think it’s an age thing, I don’t think it’s even dependent on what you had for breakfast: I think that when your mind is in the right place, it just happens for you; for the pro, if the dry season is up you, it’s when you fall back on technique and experience and come up with something valid, but still not as good as it would have been had you felt in a better frame of mind. And if you are working with models, their mood just doubles the chances of something exceptional as it doubles that of a total mess. No wonderful camera and lens combination makes up for a bad relationship, often not of your choosing.

    1. Leicaphila Post author

      Yes. Well said, as usual Rob. As for the times and manner of the inspiration, I’m just finishing up a post about that very issue, the argument being that reducing it to a explanation is disingenuous to a large extent, creative inspiration being ineffable.

    2. Pritam Singh

      I enjoyed reading your observations and analyses; so succinctly put, Rob.
      Quoting from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

  15. Lee Rust

    The Scientology angle was news to me, but it does explain the informal portrait of John Travolta on Overgaard’s website.

    I came across Thorsten and his “world’s longest camera review” when I was considering the M9 for my first digital Leica. I didn’t worry too much about the quality of his photos as they seemed good enough to demonstrate the abilities of the M and Thorsten definitely seemed to have put a lot of time and effort into the project. It literally went on for years!

    I did take note of the exotic and obviously much younger wife who was featured in many images, but I figured that the peculiarities of their marital relationship were really none of my business. It was only when I saw the two of them pictured at the Trump White House gala wearing very peculiar outfits that I started to scratch my head a bit. However, by then I had decided to get an M262, a model that Thorsten really never paid much attention to, so his reviews no longer had much relevance for me.

  16. douglasgottlieb

    He announced that the elephant skin products are cancelled. Presumably, there won’t be any ivory lens hoods in the future either. Hopefully. Not even for $15K. So don’t ask.

  17. Demetri Varoshiotis

    I do not care what religion or cult he follows, or about his wife’s political preferences as long as they are not of the black or brown-shirt variety.

    But, in all fairness, he knows his Leicas and lenses, his website and blog has tons of useful information and if people find his workshops useful why the vitriol? Did anyone force you to buy his ugly and impractical bags?

    1. Leicaphila Post author

      All fair enough points. I’d love to do a write up about his workshops. If he’s doing a good job teaching people than I’m happy to give credit where credit is due.

      …The problem for me comes with the inflated claims and all the puffery he uses to ensnare the gullible. 1) The guy isn’t royalty. He’s just some schlub with a grade school education that used to work in a saw mill, got hired in some marginal capacity in an ad agency (where he clearly learned the art of bullshit), joined some wacky cult that believes some hack 1950’s writer named L Ron Hubbard is a space alien god, marries some crazy woman who thinks she’s a Princess and now has decided to claim there’s a “von” in his name and run some bullshit narrative about him being some experienced down-in-the-trenches photographer whose insight and experience you too can access for a price when in fact he’s got less real world experience than most of my readers. Doesn’t that sort of hucksterism bother you? Doesn’t that point to the type of person he really is and where his allegiances lie i.e. not with you, his paying workshop client, but with his pocket?

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