Prince Andrew’s lawyers have asked his accuser Virginia Roberts to produce the original version of the notorious photograph allegedly showing the pair together at Ghislaine Maxwell’s London home, amid claims that it is a fake.
A US lawyer working for the Duke of York has reportedly arranged for a photographic expert to study the original if they can access it, according to the I newspaper.
Andrew Brettler, an attorney working for the Queen’s son on the case, hopes the expert will cast doubt on the photograph’s authenticity.
Ms Roberts – who now goes by the name of Giuffre – has previously spoken of the photograph’s whereabouts, saying that it could be in moving boxes at her in-laws’ home in Sydney, Australia. It is currently unclear where it is.
She claims the picture – that shows a smiling Prince Andrew with his arm around her waist, and Maxwell standing behind the pair in a doorway – was taken the same night the Duke allegedly sexually assaulted her the first time.
Prince Andrew and his legal team are contesting a civil case in New York launched by Ms Giuffre last August, in which she alleges Andrew assaulted her three times.
He has vehemently denied the allegations since they were first made public.
Prince Andrew’s lawyers have reportedly asked his accuser Virginia Roberts to give them the original version of the infamous photograph (pictured) allegedly showing the pair together at Ghislaine Maxwell’s London home, amid claims that it is a fake
The Duke of York’s legal team has tried repeatedly to get the case thrown out before it reaches a courtroom, but have so far failed.
In the meantime, Andrew’s position within the British royal family has deteriorated. He stepped down from royal duties in 2019, and returned his patronages and military titles earlier this year as the case reaching court became more likely.
The image, first released to the media in 2011, has gone on to become synonymous with the Duke, the accusations, his ongoing legal battle and questions over his relationship with the late billionaire paedophile Jefferey Epstein.
Ms Roberts claims she was trafficked by Epstein and Maxwell. The latter is facing up to 40 years in prison after she was convicted of a string of sex offences in New York, although she has filed a request for a retrial.
The photo was reportedly taken in March 2001 at Maxwell’s London apartment, and has been reproduced countless times around the world after Ms Roberts – known now as Ms Giuffre after her marriage – shared it with The Mail on Sunday.
Gaining access to the image has been an ambition of Andrew’s lawyers ever since, but they are yet to provide any evidence themselves that it is not genuine.
Pictured: Prince Andrew is seen driving through Windsor, England with his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson earlier this month
Pictured: Virginia Roberts Giuffre speaks during a press conference outside a Manhattan court in New York, Aug. 27, 2019
However, earlier this month interest in the theory was renewed when Lady Victoria Hervey – a British socialite and ex-girlfriend of Prince Andrew’s – sensationally repeated claims that the infamous photo was indeed faked.
The 44-year-old socialite and former ‘It Girl’, who is the daughter of the 6th Marquess of Bristol, doubled down on a claim she made earlier by identifying the set of images she says were used to create the doctored photo.
Harvey claimed the image has been pieced together using a photo taken at Naomi Campbell’s birthday party on board a yacht in St Tropez in May 2001, in which Virginia can be seen wearing the same white tank top with colourful patterned jeans.
The logical explanation is, of course, that she was wearing the same outfit on both occasions.
What’s more – like Andrew’s lawyers – Harvey does not have a copy of the exact photo from St Tropez which she claims was used to fake the Prince Andrew image, and it has never been seen publicly. However, she did share a bizarre painted reproduction of the alleged image to Instagram earlier this week.
Lady Victoria added to her baffling claims by saying that an ‘Irish guy’ who was dating one of Epstein’s victims in 2001 and also attended the boat party was used as a ‘body double’ for Prince Andrew in the ‘fake’ image.
In an exclusive interview, Lady Victoria told FEMAIL she has spoken to several victims of Jeffrey Epstein, who said they believe the image was edited by Virginia and Maria Farmer, another victim who worked as an ‘artist-in-residence’ for Epstein.
Andrew’s lawyers will hope that by getting their hands on the original, the photograph expert will be able to say conclusively if it is real or not.
There are various tell-tale signs to establish a photo’s authenticity.
Lady Victoria claimed the image of Virginia was taken at the birthday boat party. The image has never been seen publicly but another of Epstein’s victims has allegedly painted an image of what the original photograph would have looked like (pictured)
The 44-year-old socialite and former ‘It Girl’, who is the daughter of the 6th Marquess of Bristol, repeated claims made by the Duke in his disastrous Newsnight interview that the image may have been doctored
News of Andrew’s legal bid comes as his youngest daughter Princess Eugenie made a trip to Los Angeles to see her cousin Prince Harry, where the pair watched the Super Bowl together on Sunday night (pictured)
According to the American Scientist: ‘If lines connecting corresponding points in a scene and its reflection do not converge on a common intersection in the image plane, the image may be a fake.’
A simpler way would be to find whether the photograph has a Certificate of Authenticity (COA), which sometimes will be printed with a photograph.
Ms Giuffre has previously said that she is not certain where the original copy of the photograph is. When she was deposed by lawyers for Maxwell, she said it was ‘not in my possession right now,’ according to the New Zealand Herald.
She said she suspects the photo is ‘probably in some storage boxes’ at her in-laws’ home in Sydney, Australia, that were left there when she and her husband moved.
She also said that she had previously handed the photo over to the FBI who conducted an investigation into Maxwell and Epstein.
However, in January, the Daily Beast cited a ‘source in Virginia Giuffre’s camp’ saying that ‘they did not know whether Giuffre still has the original of the photo, or whether the original photograph even still existed.’
In November 2019, Andrew was asked about the photograph in a disastrous interview on BBC’s Newsnight program.
Asked whether the photograph could have been faked, he said public displays of affection are ‘not something he would do’ but refused to reveal whether he thought the image was doctored.
Prince Andrew spoke about his links to Jeffrey Epstein in an interview with BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis in November 2019
He said: ‘Oh it’s definitely me, I mean that’s a picture of me. I don’t believe it’s a picture of me in London because when I go out in London I wear a suit and a tie.
‘That’s what I would describe as my travelling clothes if I’m going to go overseas. There’s plenty of photographs of me dressed in that sort of kit but not there.’
The Prince called it a ‘photograph of a photograph of a photograph’, casting doubt over its veracity.
Sources close to Andrew have previously said there are questions over the veracity of the photo, amid claims the hand round his accuser’s waist does ‘not look right.’
In the interview, the Duke of York said: ‘I’m terribly sorry but if I, as a member of the royal family, and I have a photograph taken and I take very, very few photographs, I am not one to, as it were, hug and public displays of affection are not something that I do.
‘So that’s the best explanation I can give you and I’m afraid to say that I don’t believe that photograph was taken in the way that has been suggested.’
He added that the photograph appeared as though it had been taken upstairs in Ghislaine Maxwell’s house, and said that was somewhere he never went – in another questioning remark about the image.
‘Listen, I don’t remember, I don’t remember that photograph ever being taken,’ he said. ‘I don’t remember going upstairs in the house because that photograph was taken upstairs.’
And referring to his hand in the photograph, he said: ‘From the investigations that we’ve done, you can’t prove whether or not that photograph is faked or not because it is a photograph of a photograph of a photograph.
‘So it’s very difficult to be able to prove it but I don’t remember that photograph ever being taken.’
News of Andrew’s legal bid comes as his youngest daughter Princess Eugenie made a trip to Los Angeles to see her cousin Prince Harry, where the pair watched the Super Bowl together on Sunday night.
THE TIMELINE OF THE INFAMOUS VIRGINIA GIUFFRE AND PRINCE ANDREW PHOTOGRAPH
March 2001 – Infamous photograph of Virginia, Ghislaine and Prince Andrew is reportedly taken at Ghislaine’s home in London
May 2001 – Naomi Campbell hosted a boat party in the French Riviera with Jeffrey Epstein, Virginia, Ghislaine Maxwell all attending
February 2011 – Virginia is approached by the Mail On Sunday while she was living a quiet life with her family on Australia’s Central Coast.
She had been traced by journalist Sharon Churcher, who was investigating reports that the FBI was planning to reopen an investigation into the sexual exploitation of teenagers by Epstein.
At first she was reluctant to talk, not least because she harboured fears that Epstein might try to kill her.
Speaking to the Mail on Sunday at the time, she produced the picture of Andrew from a white envelope containing a collection of photos chronicling her teenage years and travels with Epstein to New Mexico and Paris.
She explained that the picture with Andrew was taken at Ms Maxwell’s home after a visit to Tramp nightclub – a claim the Duke disputes.
She claimed the photograph was taken in March 2001, two months before the boat party in St Tropez.
She told Churcher at the meeting that she had sex with Andrew three times while a teenager, but for legal reasons the MoS could not publish her claims, which the Duke denies.
The photographs are published by the Mail On Sunday.
November 2019 – Andrew hinted that the hand around her waist may not be his.
Prince Andrew told BBC Newsnight: ‘You can’t prove whether or not that photograph is faked because it’s a photograph of a photograph of a photograph.’
‘It’s very difficult to be able to prove it but I don’t remember that photograph being taken…
‘That’s me but whether that’s my hand…I have simply no recollection of the photograph ever being taken.’
December 2019 – Virginia told BBC Panorama that the photo is genuine and she gave the original to the FBI in 2011
February 2022 – Lady Victoria Hervey says victims of Epstein have told her the image was photoshopped by Virginia and Maria Farmer