October 07, 2017

C.Z. Guest

C.Z. Guest

Source: Wikimedia Commons

His first protector was Salvador Dalí, a voyeur who was up to anything sexual as long as he didn’t have to partake. Banier then became the lover of decorator Jacques Grange, followed by a platonic friendship with the very aged widower Louis Aragon. Marie-Laure de Noailles helped him meet intellectuals and artists, and soon the young hustler was writing novels and taking pictures and painting on canvas. He got lots of publicity because of his contacts, but his talents were minimal, if they existed at all. His worst trait, apart from being nasty as hell, was the name-dropping. He never once opened his mouth without using the names of Truman Capote, Princess Caroline, Prince Charles, Johnny Depp, Vanessa Paradis, Mick Jagger, David Rocksavage (they owned a house together for a while), Andy Warhol…

Banier conned everyone, but not Father Time. When he turned 40—he’s 70 today—his hair began to fall out and he turned a bit simian. That’s when he decided to go for broke and went after the richest woman on earth, L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt. You know the rest. The older woman gifted her younger-by-25-years friend close to 1 billion euros, and at one time even contemplated adopting him, which meant the gigolo could have ended up with 25 billion big ones, making him by far the richest man in Europe. After her daughter sued, Banier had to give lots of it back but avoided the three-year prison sentence on appeal and got to keep 156 million euros. Plus a great art collection and various houses, all paid for by Madame.

Goes to show we’re all in the wrong business.


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