Celebrity extortion usually involves something the celebrity has done.
This time, however, it’s about a picture of a supermodel’s young daughter.
A German man is accused of threatening to sell or release to the media a photo of Cindy Crawford and Rande Gerber’s young daughter bound to a chair and gagged if the couple did not pay him $100,000, according to Los Angeles television station KTLA.
The man, Edis Kayalar, who has been charged with one count of extortion, was recently deported.
He took the picture, apparently, from the couple’s former nanny. Crawford’s daughter, who is now eight-years-old but was seven at the time of the picture, told her parents that the nanny took the picture as part of a “cops and robbers” game.
Neither Crawford nor Gerber knew about the photo, the report says.
“Rande Gerber and Cindy Crawford intend to pursue any and all available legal action against anyone who aids the perpetrator in the distribution or sale of the photograph of their daughter,” a spokesperson for the couple told People magazine.
As we and many others noted during the height of the David Letterman scandal, it’s difficult to define why blackmail and extortion are illegal. The bottom, if somewhat simplistic, line is that one reason blackmail is illegal is because it just feels wrong.
Obviously, there are differences between this case and the one involving Letterman — the alleged Letterman extortionist, Joe Halderman, is arguing he had a screenplay treatment, which is more substantive than a photograph, particularly one likely not owned by the defendant.
But, the surface facts are the same. A man had valuable information — valuable to the tabloids, anyway — that he offered to “sell” to the people who would most want to keep it secret. And in this case, most would agree that it just feels wrong.
It is a tough argument to make that Crawford and Gerber should have little legal recourse other than spending $100,000 to buy a picture of their young daughter.
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