Million Dollar Geri; Ex-Spice Girl in Viennese Whirl as Businessman Pays [Pounds Sterling]1,666 a Minute for Her to Attend Ball

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Byline: PATRICK SAWER

AT THAT price she could have danced all night, and still have danced some more. Geri Halliwell spent a night in Vienna and was reportedly paid [pounds sterling]500,000 for the pleasure - a fraction short of a million dollars.

As the guest of Viennese businessman Richard Lugner, she is understood to have clocked up [pounds sterling]100,000 an hour for her appearance at the annual Opera Ball.

The former Spice Girl is the latest female star to be paid a handsome sum by Mr Lugner to accompany him to the [pounds sterling]150-ahead society ball at the Viennese State Opera House. His previous dates have included Grace Jones, Pamela Anderson, Sophia Loren, Ivana Trump and the Duchess of York.

This year seems to have cost Mr Lugner more than usual.

According to local reports, Fergie was paid some [pounds sterling]57,000 in 1997 to do a book-signing session at his Lugner-City shopping centre and accompany him to the ball.

There was embarrassment when the Duchess was introduced to far-Right politician Jorg Haider, forcing Mr Lugner to whisk her away to safety. In 2000, actress Catherine Deneuve, who had accepted an invitation from Mr Lugner, boycotted the ball in protest at Haider and his Freedom Party. …