Magazine article The Spectator

High Life

Magazine article The Spectator

High Life

Article excerpt

Throughout his life my friend Porfirio Rubirosa made about $5 to 10 million out of women, and he married three of the richest in the world. Flor de Oro Trujillo, only daughter of the Dominican strongman;

Doris Duke, the tobacco heiress; and Barbara Hutton, the original poor little rich girl.

Rubi spent the money he earned in the bedroom on the good things in life, mostly other women, strings of polo ponies, and two very nice houses in France. He died in the early hours of 6 July 1965, when he hit a tree driving home from a nightclub in his Ferrari. We had been celebrating a polo victory together but I had left Jimmy's early to fly to Nice for a tennis tournament.

Rubi came to mind because of this Granatino man who has just lost his case in the Court of Appeal. Granatino sounds Italian but I believe he's French. The French are rightly proud of their gigolos, Thierry Roussel having held the record for years - $100 million out of Christina Onassis - until eclipsed by Francois-Marie Banier, who got more than a billion euros from la Bettencourt across the Channel. Poor Rubi, he was the only real man among them, and got peanuts in return. When Rubi died he was almost dead broke. His widow sold their beautiful house west of Paris for a large sum to Paul-Louis Weiller, and has lived a comfortable life ever since. Rubi was planning a coup just before the accident. He had his eye on Pat Lawford, sister of JFK, but I'm not sure it was a good idea. The Kennedys are notoriously tight-fisted, and Rubi liked to live well, something the Kennedys never managed to understand or do.

Roussel sued me about 20 years ago and a Greek court awarded him one drachma.

He was always a low-life but managed to get out of debt with his marriage to Christina Onassis, whom he ripped off mercilessly and unashamedly. He now lives off his illgotten gains in Switzerland. Banier is a different kettle of fish altogether. Roussel has never opened a book and judges art by price.

Banier is an artist and once left a book of his in my New York house with a beautiful dedication to the mother of my children. He also took the time to discuss painting with my son and was very sweet to my daughter. But then he got greedy, that he did. Less than one billion is enough for anyone, unless we're talking about low-lifes such as the owners of Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United. Banier should have stopped at that magic number, 900 million.

The irony is that Liliane Bettencourt was a hell of a looker until 25 years ago. …

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