APBaseball legend Joe DiMaggio was too private a person to ever let a photographer shoot his equipment, lawyer Morris Engelberg says.
In 1941, our nation turned its lonely eyes to Joe DiMaggio. But it never saw this much of the Yankee Clipper.
A Long Island auction house is taking bids for a naked shot of the baseball legend that leaves nothing to the imagination, but DiMaggio's longtime lawyer claims the photo can't be genuine. He says the privacy-obsessed player he knew would never let a photographer shoot his equipment.�
On June 24, Lelands.com, which specializes in sports memorabilia and vintage photography, plans to sell a black-and-white photo it's calling the "Joe DiMaggio Boudoir Photo."�
Despite the title, the photo does not depict DiMaggio in the bedroom, but rather in what appears to be the Yankee clubhouse shower circa 1939 about two years before he famously hit safely in 56 consecutive games.
In the photo, the slugger, who died in 1999 at the age of 84, is rinsing off next to another man while wearing only a very big smile.
But Morris Engelberg, the lawyer for DiMaggio's estate and one of his most ardent protectors, claims the photo is fake.
"I could never imagine Joe DiMaggio, this private individual, ever letting anyone take a photo of him in the nude with someone next to him," says Engelberg, who has guarded the Yankee Clipper's legacy for more than 60 years.
"When Joe DiMaggio went to the bathroom in a restaurant, I always had to escort him," Engelberg adds. "And I made sure no one took a picture of him at the urinal."
The Lelands.com website assures potential buyers that the photo is "100% authentic, first generation and vintage."
"When you see a picture of Joe DiMaggio you know it's Joe DiMaggio," Lelands CEO Josh Evans tells us.
The origins of the photo which first surfaced two years ago in a San Francisco art gallery are shrouded in secrecy.
Evans told us he reluctantly accepted the image from an anonymous seller who contacted him by email six months ago. He says the picture is in good condition for a document more than 70 years old.
The Hollywood, Fla.-based Engelberg says that if he could get his hands on the photo's certificate of authenticity "you can rest assured that I would proceed" with legal action.
But that probably won't happen.
Evans, who insists the photo is legit, says that, per company policy, no certificate of authenticity will be issued unless the buyer requests one. Even if that happens, the certificate will not include the seller's name. Evans says most prefer to remain anonymous.
At press time, bidding for the photo was $1,331.