Diary: Alicia's keys just got cheaper

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The Independent Online

And you thought you were having a tough recession? Well, spare a thought for those unfortunate international celebrities who can't even sell their mansions in the current economic climate.

Poor Alicia Keys, for instance, put her New York State home on the market for $3.25m (£1.99m) in September, only to slash the price to $2.99m a few months later. 50 Cent's 21-bedroom Connecticut crib, originally offered at $18.5m in 2007, is now a bargain $9.99m – a whopping 46 per cent price cut. So reports US real estate website Zillow.com, which also details the property woes of two of America's most celebrated (alleged) misogynists: "epic" party host Charlie Sheen's spare house – jointly owned with his estranged wife – has dropped more than 13 per cent from its asking price peak, and is now available for a mere $3.55m. Meanwhile, Mel Gibson's Malibu "dream home" is down 12 per cent since this time last year, when it went on sale for $14.5m (It's now a snip at $12.75m). Hard to believe nobody's tempted by a place filled with such incredible memories.

* Craig "two first names" Oliver has certainly hit the ground running in his new job. According to Andrew "two first names" Neil, presenter of Daily Politics, Dave "two first names" Cameron's spin chief had sufficient spare time yesterday to text the BBC programme in the hope of securing one of its branded coffee mugs. Unfortunately, when Neil tweeted this news, he called him "Oliver Craig, new head media honcho at 10 Downing Street". The fact that one of the country's most experienced political journalists (and a former Corporation colleague) muddled his name reflects poorly, I'd suggest, on Craig's networking skills. Sadly, my editor tells me I'm not allowed to run a picture of the same chap for a third day in a row. Nope, not even the one of him wearing the lederhosen.

* The Daily Mail reports that Kelly Brook's "completely see-through leggings", worn to the gym in LA, were the "ultimate fashion faux-pas". Leaving aside that I thought them rather a fine pair, this is a confusing assertion for regular readers such as myself, who were previously assured that "tracksuit bottoms" were "the ultimate fashion faux-pas". Other crimes accorded the same title (by the same paper) include "wearing the same outfit [more than once]", and "showing your dark roots". In September 2008, the Mail chided Gordon Ramsay for his matching black suit, shirt and tie, which at the time it described as, yes, "the ultimate fashion faux-pas". Black tops, meanwhile, are a total minefield: Jordan's "white bra shining through under a dowdy black jumper"? "The ultimate fashion faux-pas" (February 2008). Nicolette Sheridan's "nude bra under a see-through black top"? "The ultimate fashion faux-pas" (March 2010). Goldie Hawn's black, see-through chiffon top – with no bra? "The ultimate fashion faux-pas" (November 2008). What's a girl to do?

* More property woes, this time for residents of Winnington Close, NW11 (locals include Gerald Ronson and Jonathan Ross), where Saif al-Islam Gaddafi has a £10m mansion. Having failed to sell the eight-bed neo-Georgian, Gaddafi hoped to rent it for an ambitious £9,750 per week, but his UK assets have now been frozen: bad news for Dr Saul Zadka, a neighbour campaigning to oust the dictator's son. "We want to force anyone associated with Gaddafi out of this house," Zadka told the Ham & High. Given Gaddafi Jnr is tied up in Tripoli, and the assets freeze prevents him selling the house anyway, it looks like another sorry example of the UK Government unwittingly helping a Gaddafi to remain in place against the wishes of angry locals.

* Times writer Sarah Vine needs a stern talking-to from Craig Oliver. When she last featured in this column, she'd revealed the exact variety of frilly knicker with which she planned to surprise her husband, Michael Gove, on Valentine's Day. Now she claims the Education Secretary is "the worst driver in England, quite possibly the Western world". Gove, she explains, has great difficulty moving parked cars, let alone driving them to work. Recently he trapped their Skoda in the doors of a car-lift. "It now looks as though it has been attacked by a giant pair of pliers," Vine writes. "Someone, somewhere, has some very embarrassing CCTV footage." If you're that someone, do get in touch at the above email address.