Prosecutors have launched an investigation in Germany after media organisations were reportedly offered what is claimed to be the first photograph of Michael Schumacher since his life-changing 2013 skiing accident.
According to RTL, the picture is being touted by an unknown seller for €1 million.
Prosecutors in Offenburg are investigating the incident as an alleged violation of Schumacher's privacy after the picture was reportedly taken and smuggled out of the German's home in Switzerland, where he continues his recovery.
Schumacher's family have not commented on the reports.
Schumacher 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 in December 2013. He returned home to Switzerland to continue receiving treatment in September 2014.
The seven-time world champion's family have been fiercely protective of the 47-year-old's privacy and at the weekend reiterated their determination to continue conducting his recovery in private, as they launched an initiative called 'Keep Fighting'.
Schumacher's manager Sabine Kehm said: "Michael's health is not a public issue, and so we will continue to make no comment in that regard. This is also because we have to protect his intimate sphere.
"Legally seen and in the longer term, every statement related to his health would diminish the extent of his intimate sphere. We are aware that this may be difficult for some people to understand but we do this with full commitment to Michael's guidelines and can only thank people for their understanding.
"Michael has always been very protective of his privacy, even during the most successful times of his career. He has always made sure there is a clear and distinct line between his public persona and his private one."
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.
UPDATED: The news blackout on Formula 1 racing champ Michael Schumacher has given rise to questions and speculations regarding his real condition. Media companies report that fans, who have been following the racer's condition and praying for him, are asking for and deserve some updates about his condition. Niki Lauda, chairman of Mercedes, has also urged the family to be more transparent regarding Michael's health.
Since Schumacher slipped out of medically induced coma after almost three years since his skiing accident on Dec 29, 2013 when he fell and hit a rock while skiing off-piste in Meribel, not much have been heard about his condition.
BBC quoted Sabine Kehm, manager of Schumacher, who issued a statement on behalf of the racer’s family that “Michael has left the CHU Grenoble to continue his long phase of rehabilitation.” The updates about his further rehabilitation, however, are far and few in between as the family deliberately him away from the public eye.
After Schumacher was moved out of a medically induced coma at the University Hospital Centre in Grenoble, he was transferred from Grenoble to Lausanne to his family residence in Lake Geneva where he has a team of specialists and private accommodation.
In April, Kehm disclosed that Schumacher was showing “moments of consciousness and awakening.” Luca Di Montezemolo, the German racer’s former boss at Formula One, confirmed that the champ is finally reacting to treatment, reports Movienewsguide.
Because of the accident, Corinna Betsch-Shumacher’s wife and a German equestrienne, sold their $25-million jet and holiday home to pay for the racer’s weekly maintenance cost of $140,000 made up of 15 medical professionals, reports Daily Mail.
According to neurosurgeon Tony Belli, rehabilitation for the type of injury, traumatic head injury, sustained by Schumacher could take months or years. Some people have spent three to four years in rehabilitation. “It depends very much on the severity of the injury, how young or fit they are,” he explains.
At the request of fans, journalists were still allowed in the house, but to make a photo of Schumacher not allowed.