A German model used a stolen photo of Cindy Crawford's young daughter in a twisted bid to extort $500,000 from the legendary model and her nightclub impresario husband, authorities said.
The picture of then-seven-year-old Kaia showed her gagged and bound to a chair, but was really an innocent snap taken by her nanny as they played cops and robbers. Edis Kayalar, who stole the photo last year when he was dating the nanny, painted the photo as provocative and threatened to sell it to tabloids, according to an FBI affidavit.
Kayalar, 26, was recently deported to Germany and believed to be in Stuttgart, authorities said. If convicted of one count of extortion, he could face up to two years in prison.
Kayalar initially contacted Crawford and husband Rande Gerber in July and set up a meeting at a Venice, Calif., bar, where he handed the photo over for $1,000. He had initially told the couple he was broke and just wanted a reward for turning in the photo, according to the affidavit.
But two days later, he told the pair he had a copy and wanted $500,000 for it, the affidavit said. The couple went to the police, and Kayalar was arrested and eventually deported in September. Crawford and Gerber thought the caper was over until Nov. 1, when Kayalar e-mailed them from his native Germany, demanding $100,000, authorities said.
Crawford’s daughter told her parents the picture was taken as part of a "cops and robbers" game, according to the case affidavit.
). The nanny, who was not named, has not been charged and no longer works for the couple, said she had taken the photo as a prank and was going to post it and a note on the front door of the family's house, according to the affidavit. She never went through with the joke.
Kayalar said he "was not trying to destroy a little girl's life, but the release of the photograph was not going to be something positive for the victims' image," according to court documents.
Kayalar allegedly gave Gerber a German bank account number and routing information and saying the money should be wired within three days or the photo would be made public.
The last contact was an e-mail sent Tuesday to Kayalar at the direction of the FBI that indicated the payment would be made later this week. No money has since been paid to Kayalar. Kayalar is believed to be in Germany, but had not been arrested as of last night.
Crawford's spokeswoman Annett Wolf issued a statement saying, "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."
Crawford, who divorced actor Richard Gere in 1995, married Gerber in 1998. They have two children.