Why Are There Hidden Messages In The New Louis Vuitton Ad?

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Back in July, Louis Vuitton announced that Annie Liebovitz would photograph Mikhail Gorbachev for a fashion mag advertisement for the September books.

But New York‘s Daily Intelligencer noticed something about Gorby’s ad (besides the ex-Soviet premier spending his sunset years flogging luggage to well-heeled types) seems amiss.

In the advertisement, Gorbachev is photographed riding in a limousine past the ruins of the Berlin Wall with only a Louis Vuitton bag keeping him company. The Vuitton bag has what appears to be a book or a magazine sticking out.

The book is placed upside down, but the Russian-language text on it appears to read “Litvinenko‘s Murder — They Wanted to Give Up a Suspect for $7000.” Litvinenko, of course, being Alexander Litvinenko, the ex-KGB agent widely assumed to have been killed by Russian intelligence via polonium-210 poisoning.

Uhm… Wow.

Was the book Gorbachev’s idea? Liebovitz’s idea? It doesen’t seem to be photoshopped… and was someone at the NYT prescient? They described the ad back in September:

Photographed by Annie Leibovitz, the ads include other celebrities using Vuitton bags: Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf cuddling in a hotel room, their bags not yet unpacked; Catherine Deneuve resting on a trunk in front of a steaming locomotive; and Mr. Gorbachev in the back of a car with a duffel bag on the seat next to him. Of the group, Mr. Gorbachev appears the least comfortable. He is holding on to a door handle, as if the bag contained polonium 210.

Weird. In any case, we’ll go back to spotting black helicopters and reporting on news that creeps us out a lot less.

(Hat tip and photo: New York/Daily Intelligencer)