Pandora: Gossip tome fails to see British light of day

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The Independent Online

An intriguing battle of wealth, power and influence from across the pond threatens to spill over to the United Kingdom.

One of New York's most notorious society scribes, Michael Gross – author of 740 Park: The Story of the World's Richest Apartment Building and Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women amongst others – has been forced to withdraw all UK publication rights of his recently-published book, Rogues' Gallery: The Secret History of the Moguls and the Money that Made the Metropolitan Museum, and issue a request that online dealers Amazon do not sell the work to British residents, for fear of action from a libel tourist.

Gross is said to have run into trouble after Annette de la Renta – the well-bred wife of fashion designer Oscar – took issue with several claims made in the book.

After hearing her complaints, Gross agreed to amend further editions of the book, and include a denial requested by Mrs de la Renta. There has since been no more legal correspondence about US publication.

But, says Gross, in the wake of his dealings with de la Renta – whose associates include a range of high-profile media big-shots – he has found himself, in stark contrast to his previous works, almost entirely unable to gain reviews of his book.

"I've done interviews that have been pulled – including one with (esteemed critic) Daphne Merkin – and the most high-profile reviewers suddenly withdrew, he says. "The powers that be just don't want people to know how things really work and I just cannot afford the risk of taking it over to the UK."

Rupert's nightmare neighbours

Gracious. We do hope that Rupert Everett's coping with his local rodent infestation all right– from the sound of things, it could be rather nasty. The urbane actor has become the subject of increasingly alarmist reports, after his New York neighbours told the press of the "giant rats" that were stalking the street, apparently terrorising its glamorous inhabitants. "You can hear shrieks from fighting rats, and from girls walking by who see them," said one. One of the said shrieks, she added, came from the well-glossed lips of supermodel Gisele Bundchen. Quelle horreur!

The writing's on the (elevator) wall

A veritable whodunit, now, from the echoing halls of Millbank. Or should that be elevator shafts? On a flying visit to the home of Conservative HQ, Pandora came across some rather unusual graffiti adorning the walls of the lift: Black, child-like scrawl, three letters, "BNP". Who could be responsible? The BNP plead innocence. "It was probably the Conservatives" (Pandora doubts this is the case). Say the Tories: "We only occupy one floor of a seven-story building, with a multitude of visitors. We can't be held responsible for all of them." A clue: the graffiti was very high, above the door. The culprit must be tall.

Mullin's immodest introduction

Guto Hari, BBC-man-turned-Bozza-spinner, took to the stage at Hay to introduce Chris Mullin's address. He hailed the latter as "this year's Alan Clark" following the acclaim of his tell-all diaries. "I could do with his sales," observes a wry Mullin to Pandora. "But unlike Alan, I can't claim to having bedded three women in the same family."