Miss Universe in legal trouble after shoe photoshoot at Taj Mahal
posted Friday, October 11, 2013 at 2:19 PM EDT
The Taj Mahal is one of the most famed architectural sites in the world. Named one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, it's been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983. Because of its immense cultural importance, authorities in India are very controlling about what can and can't be done at the site — and current Miss Universe Olivia Culpo has fallen afoul of those rules, thanks to an advertising photoshoot she was part of during a recent trip.
Culpo was visiting India as part of her duties as the current reigning Miss Universe. While visiting the Taj Mahal, Culpo stopped at the famed Diana Bench, and proceeded to pose while wearing multiple pairs of shoes. As the Hindustan Times explains it:
...her shoes raised as much eyebrows as her visit on Sunday as the American beauty tried one pair after another, posing with footwear next to her on a marble platform, in a bag and on her feet.
The problem is that commercial photography isn't allowed at the site under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act. A member of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) explained to AFP that "there are strict guidelines against any sort of branding and promotion at Taj Mahal and the photo shoot conducted was without any prior permission."
The ASI has filed a case against Culpo and Indian-born fashion designer Sanjana Jon who accompanied her to the site. According to the NY Post, they could be jailed for up to two years, and fined $1,600, if found guilty.
The Miss Universe organization has apologized for "any unintentional harm our indiscretion and insensitivity may have caused." Culpo herself has expressed regret in an interview with the Providence Journal, and claims that she had no say in the event, and even questioned if it was appropriate at one point.
Even if found guilty, it's unlikely that jail time will handed down. But even so, it's a good reminder that when visiting places you're not familiar with, to treat their important sites with the utmost respect.