Throughout his life my friend Porfirio Rubirosa made about $5 to 10 million out of women, and he married three of the richest in the world. Flor de Oro Trujillo, only daughter of the Dominican strongman; Doris Duke, the tobacco heiress; and Barbara Hutton, the original poor little rich girl. Rubi spent the money he earned in the bedroom on the good things in life, mostly other women, strings of polo ponies, and two very nice houses in France. He died in the early hours of 6 July 1965, when he hit a tree driving home from a nightclub in his Ferrari. We had been celebrating a polo victory together but I had left Jimmy’s early to fly to Nice for a tennis tournament.
Rubi came to mind because of this Granatino man who has just lost his case in the Court of Appeal. Granatino sounds Italian but I believe he’s French. The French are rightly proud of their gigolos, Thierry Roussel having held the record for years — $100 million out of Christina Onassis — until eclipsed by François-Marie Banier, who got more than a billion euros from la Bettencourt across the Channel. Poor Rubi, he was the only real man among them, and got peanuts in return. When Rubi died he was almost dead broke. His widow sold their beautiful house west of Paris for a large sum to Paul-Louis Weiller, and has lived a comfortable life ever since. Rubi was planning a coup just before the accident. He had his eye on Pat Lawford, sister of JFK, but I’m not sure it was a good idea. The Kennedys are notoriously tight-fisted, and Rubi liked to live well, something the Kennedys never managed to understand or do.
Roussel sued me about 20 years ago and a Greek court awarded him one drachma. He was always a low-life but managed to get out of debt with his marriage to Christina Onassis, whom he ripped off mercilessly and unashamedly. He now lives off his ill-gotten gains in Switzerland. Banier is a different kettle of fish altogether. Roussel has never opened a book and judges art by price. Banier is an artist and once left a book of his in my New York house with a beautiful dedication to the mother of my children. He also took the time to discuss painting with my son and was very sweet to my daughter. But then he got greedy, that he did. Less than one billion is enough for anyone, unless we’re talking about low-lifes such as the owners of Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United. Banier should have stopped at that magic number, 900 million.
The irony is that Liliane Bettencourt was a hell of a looker until 25 years ago. I saw her once at a ball and preferred her to most women there, and I had no idea that she had a shilling or two. She was then in her fifties and stunningly beautiful. As is the German lady who has to pay £70,000 every year until 2024 to Granatino, yet another gigolo who got greedy. Something Rubi never did. Nothing so vulgar as going to court over money for Rubi. All his ex-wives loved him because he was a tiger in the bedroom, a hell of an athlete outside it, and very romantic to boot. So they showered him with presents. La Hutton bought him 80 suits and 17 polo ponies. La Duke gave him a B-17, which he flew recklessly and without knowing how to navigate by asking friends like me to follow the railroad lines from Deauville to Paris.
Roussel was no sportsman, just a greedy little nothing picking up crumbs. Banier is a charmer who has always lived off others but always chose the winning side. His picture next to Malraux during the 1968 demonstration against the students proves my point. Who the hell would have guessed in May of 1968 that lining up with Debré and Malraux was a winning bet? (There is a great pic of him in the current Vanity Fair during the demonstration.) Granatino, I am happy to report, I have never met. But I wouldn’t mind meeting his ex-wife, a real looker judging by the pictures. What I would like to do is have my friend Leopold Bismarck invite her to one of his parties — Germans sticking together, and all that — and I’ll take over after a few toasts to the immortal Fatherland. Her ex seems a terrible fellow. He already had rich parents but wanted more. They met at Tramp, which is par for the course. Money and sex are what Tramp is all about. This ridiculous Granatino worked for J.P. Morgan, where greed is taught in the manner horsemanship was taught in Viennese military schools. I am happy he ended up with little, although the gigolo did pocket one million quid. Not bad for bedding a pretty German, lucky bum.
But back to Rubi. Once upon a time gigolos were he-men. Now most of them are effete, if not gay. And speaking of the latter, I’m happy as hell that disgusting Saudi camel driver got 20 years for torturing his man-servant to death. The media are ridiculous, calling these bums by their phony titles. They only know how to treat the poor badly, screw their camels and abuse women. They make Granatino sound like a prince. Mind you, the camel driver will have plenty of sex for the next ten years, satisfaction guaranteed.