MICHAEL Schumacher’s family battled to bury “secret” photos of the Formula One legend leaked by a “friend” three years after his tragic accident.
The pal reportedly smuggled the snaps out of the former racer’s Lake Geneva home in 2016 and put them on sale for an eyewatering £1million.
No photos or videos of Schumacher have been seen since his shocking skiing accident in 2013 – although a rare health update was issued last week.
The hero suffered from “traumatic brain injury” in an off-piste crash and was put in medically-induced coma. I have awoke a year later.
Since then, the former Ferrari and Mercedes driver has been recovering at his Switzerland home alongside his family.
The anonymous photographer seized the opportunity to sell a first-glimpse of the injured 53-year-old.
The unknown person, believed to be a close-friend of Schumacher’s, reportedly snapped a picture of the star lying in his bed.
They then allegedly smuggled the photos out of the family’s mansion and attempted to auction them off to outlets across the continent.
German prosecutors in Offenburg later confirmed that “an unknown person” had taken “secret” snaps and were offering them for “high amounts of money” – believed to be close to £1m.
They called the disgusting act a “violation of his personal range of life” and breach of privacy.
An investigation was launched at the time but has been reportedly been put on hold – despite Schumacher’s distraught wife Corinna demanding cops take action.
The European media house which was offered the exclusive first glimpse of the icon refused to reveal its source.
The unnamed news outlet also claimed it never saw any of the images of the legendary driver.
Last week, former Ferrari boss Jean Todt revealed a rare insight into Schumacher’s life.
‘HE’S SO STRONG’
The FIA president, who remained in Schumacher’s tight circle after the traumatic order, recently told a German TV channel that he regularly visits the star’s home.
He said Schumacher still loves to watch F1 races almost a decade after his retirement from the extreme sport.
He told RTL: “I don’t miss Michael, I see him. Yes, it’s true, I watch races with Michael.
“But sure, I guess what I miss is what we used to do together.”
Schumacher’s son Mick followed in his father’s legendary footsteps and is keeping his racing legacy alive.
Todt said there’s “a lot of unfair pressure” placed on Schumacher Jr’s shoulders.
He previously told how he “hopes the world” will be able to see his dear friend again, revealing Schumacher has “never changed.”
“I don’t leave him alone. Him, Corinna, the family, we’ve had so many experiences together,” he said.
“The beauty of what we have experienced is part of us and it goes on.
“Sometimes success and money changes you. But Michael has never changed. He’s so strong.”
Unlike Todt, another of Schumacher’s former friends feels he has been shut out from the icon’s home.
His former manager Willi Weber accused the star’s family of lying about his condition.
The 80-year-old said he is still “angry” that the brood hasn’t updated him on the F1 icon’s health since his skiing accident nine years ago.
‘ALL THE BAD LUCK’
Michael’s wife Corinna has supported her husband’s recovery for almost a decade.
On Wednesday, she was reduced to tears during a standing ovation as she collected an award on his behalf in Cologne.
Last year, the Schumachers broke their silence on the family’s suffering in an emotional interview for a new Netflix documentary.
“I have never blamed God for what happened,” Corinna, 52, said.
“It was just really bad luck – all the bad luck anyone can have in life.
“It’s always terrible when you say, ‘Why is this happening to Michael or us?’ But then why does it happen to other people?”
She broke down as she told interviewers: “Of course, I miss Michael every day. But it’s not just me who misses him.
“It’s the children, the family, his father, everyone around him.
“I mean, everybody misses Michael, but Michael is here. Different, but he’s here and that gives us strength, I find.”