July 18, 2020
GSTAAD—Are any of you tired of reading about Ghislaine Maxwell and her sleazy life? Bored with old news repeated ad nauseam by people who never had—and still don’t have—a clue? Well, your intrepid high-life correspondent does have a clue, so here goes.
But before I go on about la Maxwell, a few thoughts about the drama taking place in Court 13 on the Strand, where I had the leading role in an 1986 drama—also starring Charles Moore and some lesser characters—that almost broke the poor little Greek boy and also impoverished our ex–great proprietor Algy Cluff. As readers of this column surely know, I loathe Hollywood types, those preening egomaniacal popinjays adored and worshipped by brain-dead zombies known as fans, featured as superheroes by tabloid and TV slime merchants posing as journalists. There are exceptions, of course, and among the exceptions is a man I’ve never met, but people that I respect speak highly of: Johnny Depp. Yes, I know, it looks bad for him right now, and worse is yet to come when the Amber Heard woman gives testimony, but from what I hear Depp is a total innocent, a very nice person who got hooked by a schemer par excellence, a man trusting enough of lawyers to sue a major British tabloid, not knowing what this involves.
Well, I’ll tell you in a jiffy: Once you’re inside the court, a lawyer can suggest anything about you, as I have, to my regret, discovered. (I’ve never sued but have been sued many times.) It’s all privileged, Wild West stuff, and there’s nothing one can do about it. (I suggest to you, sir, that before you murdered your mother you raped her…) Depp had no idea what he was getting into when he was obviously outraged at what his ex-wife was telling the tabloids, and was encouraged by know-nothings to sue. He gives me the impression of being a Huckleberry-Puck kind of good fellow, naughty but innocent, the perfect fall guy. Many years ago I was approached by David Tang on behalf of Johnny Depp—it was at Jemima Goldsmith’s housewarming party, I believe—asking about large old sailing boats. I was brief and to the point: A gaff-rigged 150-footer will need a minimum of twelve crew plus captain, and will cost 3 million per annum. “Tell him to charter, no actor can afford that,” said the Greek voice of experience. Johnny didn’t listen and bought a large gaff-rigged schooner, which nearly bankrupted him.
He’s being portrayed as a monster by that slick silk, but people in the know insist to the contrary. Having gone to school with boys from Kentucky, Depp’s yes-sir-no-ma’am is no act. Any picture taken of an after-party can look pretty grim. Believe me, I should know. And as far as his friendship with Keith Richards is concerned, I only met the Stone’s daughter Theodora when I lent my boat to her and her boyfriend for a weekend some ten years ago, and received a thank-you note from her that should be a template for the kind. Who would have guessed a wild man’s daughter could write so gracefully? Not all of them are what the press makes them out to be.
And now back to Ms. Maxwell. Her crooked old man was still around when we met, and she was friendly, if a bit imperious, but not too much. Smart and well-dressed, she didn’t throw her weight around. She had a good figure and was flirty, although I thought she was bi, for no good reason except my instinct. After the crook drowned, I saw her in New York, much friendlier and far less sure of herself. “Eager to please” would be an apt description. In Saint-Tropez one day she invited me to a party, but I declined. I didn’t like the people she was hanging around with. Press reports have it that she was a society power player—she was nothing of the kind. The Epsteins, Dershowitzes, Dubins, and Russian oligarchs of this world were her friends, but 30 years ago were still NOCD. The big fish was Prince Andrew, and he has never been accused of being very shifty upstairs and picking well.
Andrew is the person ambitious New York prosecutors want to land, and she’s the one who can bring him to them. A close friend of mine whose opinion I respect swears by her, and he knows her well. The fact is that after Epstein was convicted the first time, Ghislaine stayed away. The prince unfortunately did not and has paid the price. Personally I think she pimped for Epstein in a mild way at the start, most likely had threesomes, got wise after a while, and distanced herself. Let’s not forget that she had had a shock when the old crook died leaving her in the lurch, and the pedophile stepped in as protector. His victims smell lots of moola and are willing to say anything. I’m not a fan of Ghislaine Maxwell, but presumption of innocence has to come first. She will not sell anyone down the river, especially Prince Andrew; time will tell if I’m right.