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De Niro to Sue Over Birthday Photo

August 19, 2002

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Robert De Niro filed notice of a $1 million lawsuit Monday over a photograph of him and fellow actor Sean Penn blowing out their birthday candles at a private party last year.

De Niro and Penn share the same birthday _ Aug. 17. De Niro was celebrating his 58th birthday and Penn his 41st at a rooftop party at De Niro’s loft in the lower Manhattan neighborhood of TriBeCa.

A photograph of the two actors was offered for sale by photo agency Celebrity Vibe, and appeared in at least one newspaper and one national magazine, said De Niro’s lawyer, Tom Harvey, who filed initial paperwork in the case in Manhattan Supreme Court.

``Our contention, as we hope to prove in the lawsuit, is that someone snuck into a private residence and took unauthorized pictures for profit,″ Harvey said.

Jeffrey Boyard, a co-owner of Celebrity Vibe who is named in the legal filing, said the complaint ``is news to us, and we have no comment at this time.″

De Niro won a best-supporting Oscar for 1974′s ``The Godfather: Part II″ and a best-actor Oscar for 1980′s ``Raging Bull.″ Penn’s films include ``I Am Sam,″ ``Sweet and Lowdown″ and ``Dead Man Walking.″

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