The leaked photo of supermodel Cindy Crawford that showed the model in a less-than-flattering light appears to have been faked, according to the photographer who took the picture during a magazine photo shoot.
John Russo, the celebrity photographer who took the shots for the December 2013 cover and spread in Marie Claire Mexico magazine, said in a statement to ABC News that the image was “stolen or unlawfully accessed and then altered and distributed to the media."
"It has been falsely claimed that this photograph represents an un-retouched image of Cindy Crawford. This is not true," Russo's statement said. "It is a fraudulent altered version of my photograph. I am grateful that this fact has been brought to the public's attention and that corrections are being run in the media."
The purportedly un-retouched image, allegedly from the shoot, was hailed by women around the world as empowering when it was posted on Twitter last month by British journalist Charlene White. The tweet has since been removed.
The image showed Crawford clad in bra and panties. Her bared stomach was no longer flat and her thighs weren’t as toned as they used to be.
Photos that were published in the magazine showed Crawford’s stomach covered up, and a video from the shoot only showed her from the chest up.
Crawford spoke about her changing body during a 2012 interview with The Huffington Post, saying, "I'm happy with my body but it's not my old body."
Now 49, Crawford has remained silent since the photo was leaked.
Neither the magazine nor Crawford have responded to Russo’s claim that the leaked photo was doctored, but some pointed to another picture to say the claims have merit. Just days after the story of the unflattering photo broke, Crawford’s husband, Rande Gerber, posted an image of his bikini-clad wife on Instagram. That image showed Crawford looking far more slender and toned.
In a blog post written at the time the purportedly un-retouched photo of Crawford was made public, Marie Claire America said the image revealed “a body that defies expectations -- it is real, it is honest, and it is gorgeous.”