In November 2006, Chen purchased a pink PowerBook personal computer, a photograph of which he published on his blog. It may have come from eLite Multimedia, a computer shop in Hong Kong’s Central district. According to the police, Chen’s “Cotton-candy Mac” computer was sent in for repairs, and an estimated 1,300 intimate photographs of Chen and numerous female celebrities may have been accessed and secretly copied by one or more of the shop’s employees. According to Chen, the image files were deleted before the computer was taken in for repairs. Chen’s photographs were reportedly made some time between 2003 and 2006. One close friend indicated that Chen liked to take photographs during intimate moments with his sexual partners, of whom 14 were celebrities, and privately showed these to a select group of close friends.
The first photograph, depicting Chen and Gillian Chung, was posted on the Hong Kong Discuss Forum at approximately 8:30 p.m. on 27 January 2008. Although the original post was deleted after a few hours, some visitors forwarded the image to other major forums in Hong Kong such as Uwants and HKGolden. Chung’s management agency, Emperor Entertainment Group (EEG), immediately challenged its authenticity, and filed a police report.
The following day, a second explicit photograph of Chen, with another starlet, appeared on the Internet. After an emergency meeting that evening at EEG, the company declared that it would pursue the publisher of the image for this “irresponsible” and “malicious act”. Gillian Chung was reportedly very distraught, had taken a leave of absence, and would not comment on the matter. Shaped by the denials, the initial media consensus was that the photographs were hoaxes. Nevertheless, the story became the headline of major local Hong Kong newspapers.
At 12:30 p.m. on 29 January, a higher resolution photograph appeared on the Internet. Journals noted the uncanny resemblance to Cecilia Cheung, especially her distinctive tattoo set. The photographs became the talk of the town, and local discussion forums became saturated. A low-resolution sequence (photos 4 to 7) of Chen with Chung appeared at 3 p.m.; a nude photograph of Cecilia Cheung appeared at 6 p.m. Journals established with known video footage that the photographs were taken inside Chen’s residence. Nevertheless, Cheung’s solicitors denounced the upload as a “malicious, immoral and irresponsible act”