In the face of criticism over what some have described as a “shameful” decision to put Whitney Houston’s corpse on the cover of their magazine this week, the publisher of the National Enquirer told FoxNews.com that she thought the cover was a work of art.
“I thought it was beautiful,” publisher Mary Beth Wright told FoxNews.com.
Fellow members of the media attacked the publication's decision as tasteless and morbid.
A Washington Post blogger declared that “a line had been crossed.” The website Jezebel called it morbid and the site The Daily Caller added: "Running an image of Whitney Houston’s lifeless body on the cover is pretty par for the course for The National Enquirer, but it’s still a bit much."
The photo shows the late singer dead in a gold casket with the headline, “Whitney: The Last Photo!” The image is believed to have been taken inside the Whigham Funeral Home in Newark, New Jersey. Accompanying headlines lure readers in with the promise to bring them inside Whitney’s private funeral, offering details that she was buried in $500,000 of jewelry with gold slippers on her feet.
Houston, 48, was found submerged in the bath tub in her Beverly Hills hotel room earlier this month.
The photograph does not bear a credit, and The Enquirer is not releasing any details about how they obtained it. No one from Houston’s family has called the photograph out as fraudulent.
Magazine photo editors estimated that a coffin photograph like the one published by the Enquirer could sell in the mid six -figure range or even higher.
This isn’t the first time The Enquirer has published photographs of dead or dying celebrities. In 1977 the mag published a photograph of the singer Elvis Presley in his coffin. They published a photograph of John Lennon following his death in 1980.
“The Enquirer struck again with its latest cover featuring Whitney Houston in a casket. It's just another disgusting display of how low celebrity obsession can stoop. Regardless of how they obtained the picture -- and the likely exorbitant price they paid for it, the Enquirer should have thought twice about this post-mortem portrait," Denise Warner, the Executive Editor of the website HollywoodLife.com told Fox411. "No one needs to remember Whitney preserved in formaldehyde. And it's certainly not an image that is necessary in the discussion of her life and death."
When polled on Wednesday, over 100,000 FoxNews.com readers weighed in on the National Enquirer cover. Forty percent of FoxNews.com readers said that the Enquirer publishing the photographs was a shame, but par for the course for them. Thirty-seven percent said that it was reprehensible and 21 percent said they saw absolutely nothing wrong with it.
“Whoever sold that photo of Whitney Houston in her coffin to the National Enquirer sold their soul in the process,” one fan tweeted yesterday.
Another added on the social media site: “So ppl really scooped this low by selling Whitney Houston dead in her coffin photo shame on you, she can't even rest in peace.”
While the tabloid magazine was the first to publish actual photographs of Houston’s body, her funeral on Saturday was covered by just about every mainstream media outlet in the world. The AP’s livestream of the funeral had a reported 2 million viewers.