Photographers deny stealing nude Monroe photos

Thu Oct 2, 2008 5:57am EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two photographers being sued for the return of nude pictures of Marilyn Monroe on Wednesday denied accusations they had stolen the images and said they had been found in a trash can.

The photographers are being sued by Bert Stern, who owns rights to thousands of Monroe images. He shot the seven images in question in 1962 and lent them to Eros Magazine, according to a lawsuit filed last month in New York State Supreme Court.

The images were never returned, and Stern said he did not realize they were missing until he was approached by photographers Michael Weiss and Donald Penny, who had the pictures and wanted to license them.

"These photos were discarded more than 30 years ago and found in a pile of curbside garbage in the mid-1970s," said Jamie Brickell, an attorney for Weiss and Penny.

"Stern's claim that anything has been 'taken or stolen' from him is completely false," Brickell said in a statement.

The photos were shot in what became known as "the last sitting" because Monroe died six weeks later at age 36.

The lawsuit seeks return of the photographs plus $1 million and unspecified punitive damages for lost income.

(Reporting by Edith Honan; editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Patrick Markey)