A series of high-profile stars including Jennifer Lawrence, Rihanna and Jenny McCarthy have fallen victim to one of the biggest celebrity privacy breaches in history, resulting in photographs and videos apparently showing them in the nude being widely circulated on the internet.
The photographs of mainly female celebrities were shared online after an anonymous hacker using the name Tristan posted what was claimed were authentic images on the 4chan website, an online message board used for sharing pictures.
Some of the celebrities targeted immediately said the images were fake, while others confirmed their veracity and said they had been taken in private and had never been shared.
The 4chan website quickly removed the hacker’s posts, but a screenshot of the list of hacked celebrities included pop star Avril Lavigne and actors Kirsten Dunst, Aubrey Plaza and Winona Ryder, while experts have warned that more images could emerge over time. Other alleged victims include the models Candice Swanepoel, Cara Delevingne and Kelly Brook, and the TV host Cat Deeley.
A number of photographs, including images of Lawrence, star of The Hunger Games, have been circulating on file-sharing and image-sharing sites. The hacker also apparently posted images of his computer desktop, which included what appeared to be an image of Lawrence.
Lawyers for the actor immediately threatened to prosecute any publication publishing the pictures. A spokesman for Lawrence said: “This is a flagrant violation of privacy. The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence.”
The actor Mary Elizabeth Winstead confirmed that the photos of her were real and said they had been taken in private with her husband and had been deleted before they were posted by the hacker. She condemned the actions of voyeurs who were continuing to access the images since news of the hack broke.
“To those of you looking at photos I took with my husband years ago in the privacy of our home, hope you feel great about yourselves,” she wrote on Twitter. She added: “Knowing those photos were deleted long ago, I can only imagine the creepy effort that went into this. Feeling for everyone who got hacked.”
In a statement, the lawyer for model and actor Kate Upton said: “This is obviously an outrageous violation of our client Kate Upton’s privacy. We intend to pursue anyone disseminating or duplicating these illegally obtained images to the fullest extent possible.”
The American actor and singer Victoria Justice, who was also named in the file, denied any nude photos of her were real in a tweet on Monday, writing: “These so called nudes of me are FAKE people. Let me nip this in the bud right now. *pun intended*.”
The gymnast McKayla Maroney wrote that “the fake photos of me are crazy!!”, while a spokesman for Ariana Grande said photographs of her were “completely fake”.
It remains unclear how the images and videos, which were not publicly available, were accessed by the hacker.