Virginia Roberts claims to have lost the original print of the famous photo of her and Prince Andrew, which could spark more arguments that the image was doctored.
‘The picture is not in Virginia’s possession,’ a source close to Roberts – who now goes by her married name of Giuffre – told the Daily Beast. It was taken by convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, with his friend – recently-convicted pedophile Ghislaine Maxwell, visible right behind them.
Another insider said they weren’t even sure if the original of print of the picture ‘still existed.’ It was in one of a number of boxes shipped from Giuffre’s former home in Colorado to Sydney, Australia, where she now lives, and where it has been mislaid.
The notorious photograph was taken at Ghislaine Maxwell’s London home in March 2001 and shows a smiling 41-year-old Prince Andrew with his arm around Giuffre’s waist when she was 17 as Maxwell stands behind the pair in a doorway.
A photograph of the photo was taken by a professional photographer, with that reproduction first appearing in the Mail on Sunday in 2011. The same copy has been used ever since but the original has now been misplaced.
Giuffre claims the picture, which has earned her $160,000 in media fees and was previously examined by the FBI as potential evidence against Jeffrey Epstein – was taken the same night the Duke of York allegedly sexually assaulted her the first time.
Prince Andrew and his legal team are contesting a civil case in New York launched by Giuffre last August, in which she alleges the royal assaulted her three times. He has vehemently denied the allegations since they were first made public.
A US lawyer working for the Duke has arranged for a photographic expert to study the original if they can access it. The attorney hopes the expert will cast doubt on the photograph’s authenticity.
Andrew himself has repeatedly denied ever meeting Giuffre and claimed the photo may have been doctored. Bizarrely, his friend Lady Victoria Hervey made a claim that an Irish man was used as a body double, with Andrew’s head later superimposed.
Giuffre’s attorneys are reportedly unaware of the photograph’s whereabouts and, according to the Daily Beast, no-one on her legal team has actually ever seen the original image.
The ‘critical’ piece of evidence is said to have gone missing sometime between 2011 and 2016 when Giuffre emigrated to Australia from Colorado.
Giuffre, speaking of the photo in 2016, said then that it could be in moving boxes at her in-laws’ home in Sydney, full of ‘nerf guns, kids’ toys, photos.’
Andrew attorneys argue that without the hard copy original, there is no way to prove the image wasn’t manipulated.
However, the Giuffre source noted that often times original photos are misplaced and only copies survive.
When asked if it was odd that Giuffre misplaced a picture that was of interest to the FBI, the source said: ‘Remember at the time that she was being interviewed by the FBI she was not suing anybody.
‘She was not getting legal advice. She has now been through six or seven years of litigation and has lawyers advising her and I’m sure she would behave differently, but then she was just a young girl.’
The Giuffre source also said they don’t believe failure to produce an original image will affect the admissibility of the picture as evidence.
They claimed the case does not rest on the image, which is ‘a reason [her lawyer] David
Boies is not worried’ about producing the original.
The Daily Beast claims the source did not answer queries about what efforts were made to locate the original image or the boxes it is apparently stored in.
The unidentified source did, however, claim it was ‘productive’ for Andrew to contest the picture’s authenticity, saying: ‘That would destroy their credibility. Even Andrew in that BBC interview did not say it was fake.’
They allege challenging the authenticity of the photo aims to support Andrew’s ‘I never met her’ defense.
‘The photo does not show them having sex. But it shows they were together. It shows they met,’ the source argued.
‘The more he fights about that photograph, the more he underscores the fact that the real credibility issue for him now is whether he ever met her. That’s a losing battle for him.’
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.
Giuffre 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 offenses in New York.
The photo was reportedly taken in March 2001 at Maxwell’s London apartment, and has been reproduced countless times around the world after Giuffre shared it with The Mail on Sunday.