There has been demand for imagery of nude celebrities for many decades. It is a lucrative business exploited by websites and magazines.
Types include authorized images, such as film screenshots, copies from previously published images, such as shots from magazines or stills or clips from movies, to unauthorised images such as celebrity sex tapes and paparazzi photos capturing unintentional or private scenes, and faked or doctored images.
There has been a commercial demand for images of nude celebrities for many decades. Playboy magazine was known for offering celebrities large amounts of money to appear nude in its magazine, and more downmarket pornographic magazines search far and wide for nude pictures of celebrities taken unaware — for example, when they are bathing topless or nude at what the subject thought was a secluded beach, or taken before the individual was well known. Paparazzi-produced photos are in high demand among sensational magazines and press.
In some countries, privacy law and personality rights can lead to civil action against organizations that publish photos of nude celebrities without a model release, and this restricts the availability of such photos through the print media. On the internet, the difficulty of identifying offenders and applying court sanction makes circulation of such photographs much less risky. Such photographs circulate through online photo distribution channels such as usenet and internet forums, and commercial operators, often in countries beyond the reach of courts, also offer such photos for commercial gain. copyright restrictions are often ignored.
In some cases, when the depicted person is young and the photo is an actual photo, nude media of celebrities may fall under the purvue of child pornography laws, a legal regime with harsh penalties for distribution. When such photos are faked or doctored, the media is classified as simulated child pornography.
There has likely been interest in nude images of celebrities for as long as artistic nude imagery and pornography has existed. One of the more famous examples is Playboy's inaugural December 1953 issue that featured photos of Marilyn Monroe from a 1949 photo session as its first Playmate of the Month. The commercialization, promotion, and organized supply of nude celebrity images can be traced to another men's magazine, High Society, and the efforts of its first female Editor, Gloria Leonard. This began as a feature that showcased risqué photos of celebrities like Jodie Foster and Goldie Hawn, usually lifted from film stills, and became a spin-off venture of High Society called Celebrity Skin magazine in 1986. Over its 25-year run, Margot Kidder, Ann-Margret and Barbra Streisand unsuccessfully attempted to sue the magazine after it published nude photos of them. Yet another magazine earned additional notoriety for its publication of nude photographs of models who at the time were not celebrities, but later attained fame. Penthouse magazine published nude photos in its September 1984 issue of a young adult film actress, Traci Lords (later found to be underage at the time), and Vanessa Williams, then-Miss America, that caused her to be stripped of her crown.
Nude celebrity media falls into six main categories: