August 14, 2012

Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg

Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg

BREAKING NEWS (well, sort of”€”it happened over a month ago)”€”The world’s largest sailing yacht has caught fire. Barry Diller’s Eos, named after the Greek goddess of the dawn, is a clipper-bowed Bermuda-rigged schooner. Built by the German Lürssen yard in 2006, Eos is 305 feet long. The old salts at the Polo Lounge in Beverly Hills say it cost more than $200 million to build.

Eos has been an unlucky ship from the start. Already she had twice been moored at various yards for repairs, having hit a storm five years ago that damaged some of her tech equipment. Diller is not very lucky in maritime matters. About ten years ago he was rescued by Johan Eliasch, chairman and CEO of Head, the global sporting group, when his previous boat caught fire somewhere off Sardinia. Imagine Diller’s poor wife Diane von Fürstenberg having to swim for it, soggy wrap dresses in hand!

“€œHow could such a clever guy be so dumb?”€

This time they were luckier: Barry and Diane were in the Oslo Museum. Suddenly Diane thought Barry was emulating the man in Munch’s Scream, and then she realized he was talking to his captain. Apparently the wiring behind a panel in her shoe closet had short-circuited and created a fire. Quelle ennui! Summer on the Eos was not to be. A finger-pointing war ensued. Not surprisingly, no one stepped forward to claim responsibility for the fire. The Dillers are supposedly still awaiting their payout from the insurance company. Silly Dillers!

But Barry is said to be worth at least a billion, so he’s chartered another yacht for himself and his pals for the summer.

But the loss of Eos is hardly Diller’s worst problem. Not only does he burn yachts, he burns money in disastrous publishing ventures. His real headache is the Newsweek/Daily Beast outlay which has everyone whispering. Media expert David Carr says that when he interviewed Diller, he underscored the fact that the Beast’s losses are unsustainable. No kidding! But how could such a clever guy be so dumb?

Daily Beast editor Tina Brown has pulled the same play before, first with Vanity Fair, then The New Yorker and most recently, Talk. Brown has a track record of getting megalomaniacs such as Harvey Weinstein to bankroll her fruitless ventures. One power-hungry guy after another falls prey to her promises. Her tenure at The New Yorker is still talked about for having down-marketed a once serious magazine.


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