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Anthony Bourdain: Photographer reveals story behind viral nude photo of celebrity chef

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A revealing photo of the late celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain, has resurfaced online in recent days.

The Vanity Fair Instagram account posted a picture of Bourdain from Melanie Dunea’s 2007 book My Last Supper.

Vanity Fair described the image as "one of the most indelible images ever taken of the late Anthony Bourdain”. The image shows Bourdain naked and "armed with a bone and a cigarette", in the words of Dunea.

Wiring in the magazine, Dunea recalled her memories of taking the picture and the reaction which ensued when the photo went viral.

"Neither of us had expected this image to become such a big deal," Dunea wrote. "Images have so much power and you can’t control the interpretations. I didn’t regret it, but I understood," she continued.

She went on to describe how Bourdain didn’t want to appear at her book signings for fear of being seen to “sell” a naked picture of himself. Dunea shared an email response she received from Bourdain at the time.

It read: "…And to be honest, I’m very wary of being seen to ‘sell’ naked pic of myself. No doubt, I’ll be asked to comment numerous times and will of course, sing book’s praises!”

She added: "His email reassured me. It seemed fair. And I shouldn’t have been so surprised considering what he wrote in the introduction."

"I’m of two minds about my photograph," Bourdain said at the time. "I do always joke that (as a comedian once suggested) ‘I want to leave this world as I entered it: naked, screaming, and covered with blood,’ but I think perhaps Melanie might have taken me too literally. I am sure we can all agree that it’s probably not wise to make career decisions after four shots of tequila."

The sharing of the photograph coincides with the release of a new documentary about the late celebrity chef, Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain.

Bourdain died by suicide in June 2018. He was best known as the host of acclaimed travel series Parts Unknown, and as the author of books including the bestselling Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly.

If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

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