Paparazzo who will snap up millions

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While Diana, Princess of Wales, was posing for the photographers with landmine victims in Bosnia, the focus back home was on a set of pictures which showed her in a much more informal setting.

Mario Brenna is set to become a millionaire from his snaps of the princess on a yacht off the coast of Sardinia with Dodi Fayed, the millionaire playboy son of the Harrods owner, Mohamed al-Fayed.

It is understood that Brenna, a 40-year-old Italian who lives in Monaco, happened to spot the Fayed boat, Jonikal, as he was in the area on other photographic assignments.

The sight of the Princess of Wales and Mr Fayed relaxing together in swimming costumes caught with his telephoto lens appeared in the Sunday Mirror yesterday and are set for publication around the world today. The reproduction rights over the next year or two could net Mr Brenna several million pounds.

Though barely known to the British paparazzi, Brenna is a respected photographer in the worlds of fashion and Mediterranean high society.

He has been an official photographer to fashion houses including Versace, and augmented his living by photographing some of the smartest parties.

"The most successful people in this business are the ones that can cross from one sort of thing to another. He's one of them," one journalist said yesterday. A photographer said: "He's a very smooth chap and, I expect, a very desirable one right now." It is understood that the Sunday Mirror, which is part of the Mirror Group, a shareholder in The Independent, paid around pounds 250,000 for exclusive rights to the pictures yesterday and other tabloids are said to have paid pounds 100,000 each for more today.

The deals in Britain have been brokered by London photographer Jason Fraser. It is understood he was contacted by Brenna earlier this week and is handling the rights in the United States and Australia as well as the United Kingdom.

Negotiations would have been carried out at the most senior newspaper management level. Half a dozen papers were contacted and the agreement was made. The Mail on Sunday later offered an increased bid, but Fraser refused to renege on the Sunday Mirror deal.

Fraser is known as a photographer who works alone. His assignments have included photographing Colonel Gaddafi after the bombing of Tripoli but he also frequently pictured the British royals. He once handed a roll of film to the Princess of Wales when she was upset at being photographed leaving a dinner party with a stranger.

The French rights to Brenna's pictures are being handled by Daniel Angeli, who took the Duchess of York toe-sucking pictures.