The photographer says the photo that went viral "is a fraudulent altered version"

By Wade Rouse
Updated March 02, 2015 05:30 PM
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Credit: Andrew Toth/FilmMagic

Last month, women hailed a supposedly unretouched lingerie photo of Cindy Crawford – but was it actually faked?

The answer is yes, according to the photographer who took the photo and Crawford’s attorney who wrote in a letter obtained by TMZ that the picture was “stolen” and “maliciously altered.”

“It has been falsely claimed that this photograph represents an un-retouched image of Cindy Crawford. This is not true,” celebrity photographer John Russo said in a statement to ABC News Monday. “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.”

Russo, who shot the photos for the December 2013 cover and spread of Marie Claire Mexico and Latin America, also stated that the image was “stolen or unlawfully accessed and then altered and distributed to the media.”

The photo of the 49-year-old supermodel showing off her real-woman physique in lingerie and a fur coat inspired women everywhere, although it offered a marked contrast from the unretouched Instagram photo Rande Gerber took of his wife on Valentine’s Day reclining by a pool in a bikini with a taut tummy.

While Crawford has yet to comment, she said in a past interview, “When I was 23 other women could look at me and say, ‘Well, she’s never had kids,’ but now I have and I know what it’s like to have to lose baby weight. It is a huge change for your body. You don’t even want to look in the mirror after you’ve had a baby because your stomach is hanging there like a Shar-Pei.”

Continued Crawford: “Even I don’t wake up looking like Cindy Crawford. I have fat days, ugly days, blimp days, days that I just feel terrible about myself. I don’t want to have to be beautiful all the time.”