Photos of stricken Michael Schumacher smuggled from home, hawked around Europe for over $1 million

Michael Schumacher arriving at the F1 paddock in Singapore for a press call in 2010.
Michael Schumacher arriving at the F1 paddock in Singapore for a press call in 2010.ST FILE PHOTO

A friend of injured racing driver Michael Schumacher is said to be hawking photos of the stricken star lying in bed at his Swiss home to various European media organisations for €1 million (S$1.5 million).

Prosecutors in Germany have launched an investigation into the allegations, according to news reports.

Schumacher, 47, suffered severe head injuries and was in a coma for six months after falling and hitting his head on a rock while on a family skiing holiday in the French Alps on Dec 29,  2013. He has been cared for at his home in Switzerland since September 2014.

Updates on the German's plight have been sporadic in the three years since, as his family have attempted to keep him out of the limelight. His condition remains a mystery, with his manager saying at the weekend (Dec 17) that his health would remain private.

"Michael's health is not a public issue, and so we will continue to make no comment in that regard," said Sabine Kehm

 

But only hours after that statement was made, it emerged that various European media organisations had been offered the exclusive images, said Britain's Daily Mail.

Various media outlets have said the images were taken by a friend of the driver, although prosecutors say the photos were taken by "an unknown person".

The photographs - secretly taken in his villa by Lake Geneva - were smuggled out of Switzerland and are being offered to European media for €1 million (S$1.5 million).

A number of close friends have visited Schumacher at his ranch near Lake Geneva in Switzerland, where he receives medical care at a specially-built facility that costs a reported £115,000 (S$200,000) a week, says the Independent.

Prosecutors in Offenburg, Germany, were initially investigating what has been dubbed a “gross breach” of the Schumacher family’s trust – with the pictures said to violate the racing legend’s “personal range of life”.

In a statement, the prosecutor’s office told German TV channel RTL “an unknown person” had offered the “secret” images to publications for “high amounts of money”.

But the enquiry was put on hold after the media house refused to name its sources during questioning, according to Britain's Daily Express. 

The photo itself was not made available to RTL. Even the prosecutor's office had not seen it, the Express said.

Schumacher's family have not commented on the reports, said Britain's Sun newspaper.

In the days immediately after Schumacher's accident in 2013, a journalist disguised as a priest attempted to gain access to the German's hospital room in Grenoble.

Schumacher is F1's most successful driver with 91 wins and seven drivers' world titles.