|Thursday, April 25
Updated: April 28, 1:53 PM ET
Penthouse, agency in dispute over nude photos
By Darren Rovell
Exclusive nude photos of Anna Kournikova "caught close up on a nude beach" are promised on the June cover of Penthouse, which went on sale this week.
An attorney representing the magazine said Penthouse believes the pictures are real, but representatives of Kournikova claim it isn't the Russian professional tennis player.
A spokesman for Octagon, which represents Kournikova, claims that not one of the 12 nude photos is of Kournikova and the agency plans legal action.
"People who know Anna and see the photos will immediately recognize these are not photos of her," Octagon spokesman David Schwab said. "Penthouse has left us no alternative but to pursue legal action and protect our client's rights and interests.
"The topless photographs in the article are so dissimilar to Miss Kournikova that the magazine acted either intentionally or with reckless disregard for the truth in order to exploit our client and make a profit."
But Victor A. Kovner, an attorney who said he would defend Penthouse in the event of a lawsuit, told ESPN.com on Friday that "the magazine has investigated this carefully and is confident that this is indeed Miss Kournikova."
Kovner said the magazine received a letter earlier this week from Octagon requesting to see the pictures. Kovner said he sent back a letter with copies of the pictures "so they could see that nothing about this is anything but flattering and favorable to Miss Kournikova."
"They are lovely pictures of her," said Kovner, who noted the photos were taken on a beach in Florida. "But I can understand how there might be commercial reasons why she would deny this."
Kournikova, who has yet to win a singles title since joining the WTA Tour, is currently ranked No. 69 in the world.
Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.