Berlusconi's femme fatale shocks Vienna

Not content with starring in a sex and corruption scandal that threatens to sink Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi, teenage belly dancer Karima "Ruby" El Mahroug, is now raising eyebrows the other side of the Alps by accepting €40,000 (£34,000) to keep another septuagenarian magnate company – this time at Vienna's illustrious debutant Opera Ball.

Austrian real-estate mogul Richard Lugner, 78, was present to greet Ms El Mahroug, 18, when she arrived in Vienna's Schwechat airport on Tuesday afternoon. As she got off the tycoon's private jet dressed in tight jeans and white high heels, he gave her a bunch of flowers. She was then whisked away in an entourage of three white limousines to an unspecified luxury hotel in the Austrian capital, ahead of an appointment at the atelier of local designer Niko Fechter to try on her gown for tonight's ball.

Promoters of the famous Vienna society event are said to be furious over the millionaire's latest guest. However, Mr Lugner has previously scandalised elite circles by cavorting with young starlets. This year he is rumoured to have offered to pay American celebrity Bo Derek to attend the event. But the 54-year-old star of the comedy 10 was apparently swapped for the younger Moroccan competition when the actress upped her price.

The Austrian press says Mr Lugner is deliberately riling high society. And by choosing a teen belly dancer whom Mr Berlusconi is accused of hiring for sex while she was still a minor, it's hard to think how Mr Lugner could have chosen a more provocative date.

The event, in the Vienna State Opera at the close of the carnival season, has its origins in the 19th-century Hapsburg empire. Ms El Mahroug will compete for attention with debutants who had to audition to participate. Selection criteria include the capacity to waltz gracefully counter-clockwise. The debutants also wear white with crystal tiaras.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk / Trainee Application Support Analyst - Hampshire

£25000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor