According to The Daily Mail, Taylor posed in the nude as an engagement gift for her third husband Michael Todd in 1956. Taylor was 24 at the time, and the photo was taken by her friend Roddy McDowall. After Todd died in a plane crash a little more than a year after their wedding, Taylor gave the photo to her assistant and makeup artist Penny Taylor for safe keeping. It was subsequently sold to a private collector named Jim Shaudis in 1980.
Following Taylor’s death last month, Shaudis decided to release the photo. It previously hung in his bedroom.
UPDATE: Commenter Yourmama points out that the same image is credited on PeterGowland.com as being of Lee Evans, not Elizabeth Taylor. Both the UK’s Daily Mail and New York Daily News still cite the image as being of Taylor. A commenter on Jezebel pasted an article which says the image is a fake. We are looking into this and will update accordingly. Another Jezebel commenter links to Page 39 of Classic Nude Photography: Techniques and Images on Google Books, in which a photographer explains the set-up behind the image and cites the model as Evans, a dancer at the time.