Fashion photographer Terry Richardson was nominated in the Best Direction and Video of the Year categories at Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards for Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball."
"Wrecking Ball" won Video of the Year, but it lost Best Direction to DJ Snake & Lil Jon's "Turn Down For What."
Richardson began his career in the '90s with sexually explicit ads for edgy brands and editorials for indie magazines. But around 2010, women began coming forward with allegations that "Uncle Terry" coerced them into performing sexual acts during photo shoots.
Today, Richardson — who's never been charged with a crime but has settled lawsuits involving accusations of deceit surrounding his nude photography — is still being hired by major magazines, brands, and celebrities.
"Wrecking Ball" was a huge success, bringing in 19.3 million views within 24 hours of its September 2013 release.
In addition to Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball," Richardson has directed music videos for Beyoncé, Sky Ferreira, and Taylor Swift. But Lady Gaga, who released a book with Richardson in 2011, reportedly canceled the release of a video he directed for her and R. Kelly's "Do What U Want," after old accusations resurfaced against Kelly in December and new allegations emerged against Richardson in the spring. (A Richardson-directed documentary Gaga announced in December 2012 also has yet to materialize.)
Miley Cyrus has continued to support Richardson this year, as he faces more public scrutiny than ever before.
She posted photos of them on Instagram in late June — the same month New York magazine published a controversial profile of Richardson, TMZ leaked clips from Gaga's scrapped video, and Aldo Shoes told BuzzFeed it was no longer working with the photographer, joining H&M, Target, Vogue, and others.
When "Wrecking Ball' won, Cyrus had her date — a young man named Jesse — accept the award and speak about homeless youth.
In the Video of the Year category, "Wrecking Ball" beat out Beyoncé's "Drunk In Love," Iggy Azalea's "Fancy," Pharrell's "Happy," and Sia's "Chandelier."
In the Best Direction category, it lost to "Turn Down For What" by DJ Snake & Lil Jon, directed by The Daniels.
Though Richardson technically won a Moonman too, he didn't appear at the show.
Directors aren't traditionally featured at the VMAs — even those as deeply ingrained in celebrity culture as Richardson.
If he had won Best Direction, Richardson would have join a fairly prestigious group of VMA-honored directors, including David Fincher and Spike Jonze.
Before he directed his first feature film (Alien 3), Fincher won VMAs for Madonna's "Vogue" (1989) and "Express Yourself" (1990). He went on to direct Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and The Social Network, as well as win another VMA for Justin Timberlake and Jay Z's "Suit & Tie" last year.
Jonze won a VMA in 1995 for directing Weezer's "Buddy Holly." In 1999, the same year he directed Being John Malkovich, Jonze won his second VMA for Fatboy Slim's "Weapon of Choice." He later directed Adaptation, Where the Wild Things Are, and Her.
Richardson also has feature-film aspirations — according to New York, he's "preparing to make his first film, about [Los Angeles'] early-1980s punk scene."