Emily Ratajkowski has been called ‘vindictive’ and ‘sad’ by photographer Jonathan Leder’s publishing company after she accused him of sexually assaulting her during a nude shoot at his home in the Catskills in 2012.
In an essay for The Cut, the now 29-year-old said she remembers Leder’s fingers suddenly being inside of her while they were sitting on his couch after she drank copious amounts of wine during the shoot, despite only being 20 at the time.
Leder vehemently denied the claims and has all but disappeared from social media, but Heather Tynan, the editorial director of his company, Imperial Publishing, released a statement attacking the model and accusing her of trying to drum up press for herself with the story.
Speaking out: Emily Ratajkowski has claimed that she was sexually assaulted by photographer Jonathan Leder during a nude shoot in 2012, when she was 20 years old
Accused: Ratajkowski, now 29, said that she remembers Leder’s ‘fingers suddenly being inside of [her],’ recalling that it ‘really, really hurt’
‘We are all deeply disturbed to read Ms. Ratajkowski’s latest (false) statements to NY mag in her never-ending search for press and publicity,’ she said in the statement released on Imperial Publishing’s website.
‘Of course Mr. Leder totally denies her outrageous allegations of being “assaulted.” It is grotesque and sad that she is so vindictive to lie in such a way to the press routinely.’
Tynan claimed Ratajkowski’s sexual assault accusation against Leder was revenge for him publishing an $80 book of nude photos of her, titled ‘Emily Ratajkowski,’ years after their shoot in the Catskills.
In her essay for The Cut, Ratajkowski said that some of the images in the photography book were posted on Leder’s Instagram and ‘among the most revealing and vulgar Polaroids’ he had taken of her.
The model recalled being ‘livid and frantic’ after learning of the book’s publication, saying she was afraid of what it could do to her reputation as an actress. She explained that she had been warned to ‘shy away from being “sexy” in order to be taken seriously.’
Ratajkowski contacted her lawyer, who sent a cease-and-desist letter to Leder and the gallery that was planning to exhibit his images of her to coincide with the release of the book.
‘My lawyer argued that Jonathan had no right to use the images beyond their agreed-upon usage,’ she said. ‘When I agreed to shoot with Jonathan, I had consented only for the photos to be printed in the magazine they were intended for.’
However, the gallery went to the New York Times with a signed release that gave Leder the rights to publish the images in whatever capacity he saw fit.
Rebuttal: Leder denied the allegations to The Cut, saying, ‘…She bounced around naked in the Robin Thicke video (pictured)… You really want someone to believe she was a victim?’
Hitting back: Heather Tynan, the editorial director of Leder’s company, Imperial Publishing, released a statement attacking the model, calling her ‘vindictive’ and ‘sad’
Opinion: Tynan said the cease-and-desist letter Ratajkowski’s lawyer sent to the company over Leder’s book of photos from the 2012 shoot was a ‘bullying scare tactic’
Allegation: Tynan suggested that the model had accused Leder of sexual assault as revenge because the company had ‘had every legal right’ to publish the books of photos
Ratajkowski maintains that she never signed a release, and her agent who arranged the shoot — who no longer works in the industry — also insists she didn’t sign anything on her behalf.
The model was among a number of female stars who had their nude photos published on controversial site 4chan after an iCloud hack in 2014, and she said the idea of Leder having free reign over the shoot images ‘terrified’ her, particularly because of what that meant for all of the ‘other thousands, maybe millions’ of photos that she had posed for during her career.
But despite her lawyer’s insistence that the signed model release ‘must have been forged,’ Ratajkowski was advised that pursuing a lawsuit against Leder and the gallery that eventually exhibited his work, would be ‘fruitless,’ and incredibly costly — which, she said, she couldn’t afford.
‘The problem with justice, or even the pursuit of justice, in the U.S. is that it costs. A lot,’ she explained. ‘For the four days of letters and calls for which I had enlisted my lawyer’s services, I’d racked up a bill of nearly $8,000. And while I did have fame, I didn’t have the kind of money I’d told Jonathan I hoped to have one day.
‘I’d heard from friends that Jonathan was a rich kid who had never needed a paycheck in his life. My dad was a high-school teacher; my mom was an English teacher. I had no one in my life to swoop in and help cover the costs.’
She was also informed that a successful lawsuit would not necessarily prevent the publication of the books, but only give her the opportunity to try and claim some of the profits from their sale.
Leder has since published multiple editions of the book through his company, Imperial Publishing, while also sharing several ‘unseen’ Polaroids of Ratajkowski on his Instagram account, which has since been deleted following the publication of the model’s essay.
Tynan later edited her statement about Ratajkowski’s account, but she still called her ‘vindictive’ and ‘sad’ while discrediting her accusations.
Controversy: In 2016, Leder published a book of nude photos of Ratajkowski that were taken during the shoot, which the model and actress slammed as a ‘violation’
Follow up: Leder has since published multiple versions of the book, including a special linen-bound edition (left) that was released in 2019 and a copy of first editions (right)
Publication: The photographer continued to share images from the shoot on his Instagram account (pictured), with the most recent photo (top left) shared in December 2019
‘We were all deeply disturbed to read Ms. Ratajkowski’s latest false statements to NY Magazine,’ the new statement reads.
‘While we understand that Ms. Ratajkowski no longer feels that the images represent her in the way she would like, and are probably detrimental to her career as an actress and celebrity, nonetheless, her recent accusations are based in fiction and not in fact, and the facts should matter.
‘Mr. Leder completely denies her outrageous libelous allegations of being “assaulted.” It is grotesque and sad that she is so vindictive about the publication of the photos.
‘It is also not our first encounter with her wrath.’
Imperial Publishing has continued to sell books featuring images of Ratajkowski from the 2012 shoot, including first edition copies that were just ‘found in storage’ that cost $250 apiece.
Tynan called the cease-and-desist letter the company had received from Ratajkowski’s lawyer a ‘bullying scare tactic.’ Along with the statement, the company shared a copy of its lawyer’s response that proves they ‘had every legal right’ to publish the images of her.
‘It is disheartening to us that NY Magazine would publish such a tawdry and baseless article, yet sadly not surprising,’ the current statement reads.
Claim: The company shared a copy of its lawyer’s letter saying they ‘had every legal right’ to publish a book of images of Ratajkowski. The model maintains that she never signed a release
‘We believe in the work and know that it very popular amongst Emily’s fans. It is unfortunate that Ms. Ratajkowski has been at odds with it ever since her career as an actress took off.
‘We do not feel that we should be bullied by a celebrity though, and cease publication because she has decided that the photographs are no longer in her best interest,’ the statement continues.
‘We have every legal right to publish our books of Ms. Ratajkowski — despite what she has tried to maintain to the press.
‘Ms. Ratajkowski knows that, and her lawyers know that. She knows she has no legal recourse to stop publication, so bad mouthing the photographer (again) with false and salacious, baseless accusations seems to be her newfound answer.
‘We understand that she would like to ‘control her image,’ but this is not the way to go about it.’
In her essay for The Cut, Ratajkowski recalled traveling to Leder’s home to pose for an unpaid editorial shoot arranged by her agent at the time.
She said she drank copious amounts of red wine during the shoot, and she noted that she was ‘very, very drunk’ by the end of the night. She was 20 at the time.
‘I was cold, shivering, and huddled under a blanket,’ she wrote. ‘Jonathan and I were on his couch, and the rough texture of his jeans rubbed against my bare legs.’
Ratajkowski described how Leder began asking her about her ‘boyfriends,’ and she said she ‘remembers talking a lot’ about her dating history and the men she loved, while ‘absentmindedly rubbing [her] feet against one another and against his for warmth.’
Upset: Ratajkowski recalls her desperate attempts to stop Leder from publishing his book, revealing she was told by her lawyer that ‘pursuing [a] lawsuit… would be fruitless’
Fear: When the book was released, Ratajkowski (pictured in Gone Girl) was forging a career as an actress, and says she was afraid of what the book might do to her reputation in the industry
‘He told me he liked “that foot thing you’re doing,” and I remember this moment more clearly than anything else,’ she said. ‘I hate that Jonathan commented on something I’ve done throughout my life to comfort myself. I hate that sometimes, even now, when I rub my feet together because I’m cold or afraid or exhausted, I think of Jonathan.
‘Most of what came next was a blur except for the feeling,’ Ratajkowski continued. ‘I don’t remember kissing, but I do remember his fingers suddenly being inside of me. Harder and harder and pushing and pushing like no one had touched me before or has touched me since.
‘I could feel the shape of myself and my ridges, and it really, really hurt. I brought my hand instinctively to his wrist and pulled his fingers out of me with force. I didn’t say a word. He stood up abruptly and scurried silently into the darkness up the stairs.’
When contacted by The Cut, Leder denied Ratajkowski’s allegations, telling the publication that they were ‘too tawdry and childish to respond to.’
Referring to nude and topless shoots that Ratajkowski has done in the years since he worked with her, Leder continued: ‘You do know who we are talking about right? This is the girl that was naked in Treats! magazine, and bounced around naked in the Robin Thicke video at that time.
‘You really want someone to believe she was a victim?’
In a statement made to DailyMail.com, Leder also denied Ratajkowski’s claims about the shoot, saying: ‘Ms. Ratajkowski’s allegations are totally false. I feel bad for her that she is at the point in her career where she has to resort to tactics like this to gain press and publicity. It is shameful.
‘I think it is also shameful for [New York Magazine] to publish such sordid and tawdry and unsubstantiated allegations against anyone.’
After the incident on the couch, Ratajkowski said she went to bed in the room where they had started the shoot, recalling that she was ‘confused as to why Jonathan had left without a word and terrified that he would come back.’
‘Later in the morning, I woke with a vicious hangover,’ she said. ‘I dressed quickly in the clothes I’d been wearing the day before and noticed that my hands were shaking.’
Upon checking her Instagram, she noticed that Jonathan had already put up one of her Polaroids from the previous night.
Ratajkowski also detailed several instances during the shoot that Leder allegedly made comments about her body. She said he branded her first set of Polaroids ‘boring and stiff,’ and then asked the makeup artist to ‘f**k up her hair’ before she posed nude.
Dinner with friends: Ratajkowski was seen out on Tuesday night for the first time since Leder hit back at her sexual assault allegations
Outfit: The model-turned-actress stepped out in white sneakers, a long-sleeved top, and oversized black blazer with baggy pants
Chatting: Ratajkowski was photographed reacting during a conversation with a friend as she dined with several people at at Macquarie in New York City
Despite the fact that she had only been working professionally for a few years, she said she had no fears about posing nude, noting that she had been ‘told by plenty of photographers and agents that her body was one of the things that made her stand out.’
‘My body felt like a superpower,’ she wrote. ‘I was confident naked — unafraid and proud.’
However, she admitted that ‘a part of her disassociated’ when she undressed, and she said that she’d ‘had so much wine that giant black spots were expanding and floating in front of her eyes’ when she began to pose for Leder on the bed.
When the pair reviewed that second batch of Polaroids together, Ratajkowski said the photographer told her he thought she would be ‘a big girl… big-boned, fat,’ based on images of her that he had found on Google, in which she appeared curvier.
As they continued shooting, he picked out a particular image that he said he liked ‘because of her nipples.’
‘This one is so good because of your nipples,’ Ratajkowski said he told her. ‘Your nipples change so much from hard to soft. But I like them when they’re gigantic. I love when they’re giant. Giant and exaggerated.’
She recalled being ‘confused’ by his comments, adding that she ‘somehow felt that he meant to insult [her].’
After the images from the shoot were published in a magazine a few months later, Ratajkowski said she pushed the experience out of her mind, and ‘never told anyone about what happened.’
Although the essay is the first time that Ratajkowski has made the assault allegations against Leder, she has previously spoken out about the shoot back in 2016, when the photographer revealed that he was publishing a book of the nude images he took of her.
At the time, Ratajkowski insisted that she had not given her consent for the images to be published anywhere other than the magazine they were originally taken for, and she slammed Leder’s book as a ‘violation’ in a series of tweets.
In his statement to DailyMail.com about Ratajkowski’s article in The Cut, Leder hit back at the model’s criticism of his books, writing that he ‘was totally within his legal rights’ to publish them.
The photographer shared details from his shoot with Ratajkowski during an interview with Highsnobiety in February 2017. He described her as being ‘one of the most comfortable models he had ever worked with in terms of her body.’
‘She was neither shy nor self-conscious in any way,’ he told the online publication. ‘To say she enjoyed being naked is an understatement. I don’t know if it empowered her, or she enjoyed the attention, but I can say, out of the 100 or so Polaroids we shot those two nights, only in a handful does she have clothes on.’
Leder recalled the experience as being a ‘great shoot,’ adding that they ‘had a great time, good conversation, and worked late into the night.’
After the publication of her essay and Leder’s startling response to the sexual assault allegation, Ratajkowski was seen dining with friends at Macquarie in New York City on Tuesday evening.
They took advantage of an outdoor dining set-up in Manhattan that has popped up amid the coronavirus pandemic in response to the indoor dining ban.
The model didn’t give much away with her facial expressions, but she seemed to be engrossed in conversation, looking perplexed and surprised at times.