Miss Universe Faces Fines and Jail Time for Unsanctioned Photo Shoot at Taj Mahal


The Taj Mahal is a World Heritage Site, and as such, according to India’s Heritage Act, all commercial activity is banned on the premises. That didn’t faze Miss Universe Olivia Culpo, however, who now faces charges that could lead to fines and jail time for shooting what seemed like an ad for footwear.

According to the Hindustan Times, the 21-year-old Miss Universe’s trip to the Taj Mahal last Sunday evening began normally enough. It was only after she reached the iconic Diana Seat — named for the late Princess Diana — that she began modeling different pairs of pumps for the cameras.

Miss Universe and her shoes were photographed separately and together with the Taj Mahal in the background, violating strict directives that “any branding or publicity on the Taj premises is prohibited,” according to the Times.


Superintending archaeologist for the Archeological Survey of India, NK Pathak, told the Times that they are launching an investigation. While Police Inspector Sushant Gaur, who received the official complaint from the ASI today, told the New York Post that if Culpo is found guilty of violating India’s Heritage Act, all parties involved could face up to two years in jail and a $1,600 fine.

Culpo left India Sunday night and, according to the New York Daily News, the Miss Universe Organization has issued a statement apologizing for “any unintentional harm our indiscretion and insensitivity may have caused.”

Apparently, the photos and video were shot as part of some “video diaries” the organization puts together for fans. Video diaries that often incorporate sponsors.

(via The New York Post)

Image credits: Taj Mahal in March 2004 by Dhirad and Miss Universe Olivia Culpo by U.S. Embassy Jakarta, Indonesia

  • superduckz

    What a strange world I live in…

  • Mike

    How about I steal your camera and work at weddings with it?

  • jrconner

    Leaving India quickly was smarter than shooting commercial pix in a forbidden venue. Part of her education, I suppose. She might also study blue screen technology. As for her handlers, they’ve earned an iron sandal in their southern exposures.

  • dhbanes

    What was stolen in this story?

  • 5Masters

    india…. gang rapes and stupid laws.

  • 5Masters

    do you had your lobotomie yet?
    you sound like you did.

  • harumph

    Are you commenting on the right story? That makes zero sense in this context.

  • Rabi Abonour

    Obviously a two year jail sentence is ridiculous, but it’s worth noting that the official policy is that professional photography and videography requires prior permission. This is policy at plenty of places in America, too.

  • madmax

    Agree. Better don´t entry some countries like USA and India.

  • TruthFlow

    Stupid laws hmm…. anyways what do you think about USA ?

    Which tops the list of highest rapes reported.

  • Sofia E. Lucifairy

    It’s a public place and part of humanity’s heritage, they cannot require prior permission for any type of photography!

  • Commentista


  • Guest

    The Taj isn’t public. It is a private heritage site that requires an admission fee as well as a camera fee which varies based on your camera.