The Wagatha Christie case—you know, wife of one soccer star accuses wife of another soccer star of leaking posts from her private Instagram account, is then sued by the accused leaker for libel, but ultimately (a week ago) prevails in court—is going to be a television drama, courtesy of Blueprint Pictures, which created A Very English Scandal and A Very British Scandal. “The company is one of a slew of TV and film producers circling the story, which came to a head … when a judge ruled that [Coleen] Rooney, 36, was right to accuse [Rebekah] Vardy, 40, of leaking stories about her private life to The Sun,” reported The Times of London. “The quarrel began in 2019 when Rooney said she had carried out a months-long sting operation to gather evidence of Vardy leaking stories.” Vardy’s subsequent defamation lawsuit against Rooney was regarded as ill advised by some, who have now been proven right. (“Wagatha Christie,” by the way, is a combination of the mystery writer’s name and “WAG”—wives and girlfriends of professional athletes.)
The newspaper also said that “Rooney [was] considering action over misuse of private information and a breach of data protection laws. Vardy was also said to be weighing up an appeal against [the] ruling.” We’re just looking forward to the series, and the pivotal scene where Vardy’s cell phone, which might or might not have contained incriminating evidence, is mysteriously lost in the rough seas off the coast of Scotland (errant wave).
Italy’s tax police have reportedly seized assets worth $142 million from Lanfranco Cirillo, architect to the oligarchs—and to Vladimir Putin. The 63-year-old Cirillo “had a helicopter, luxurious homes, huge piles of cash and jewellery seized after he allegedly broke Italian tax rules,” said the Daily Mail. “Italian police also confiscated works of modern and contemporary art by famous artists such as Picasso, Kandinsky, De Chirico and Cezanne.”
Cirillo designed the $1.2 billion Black Sea estate known as “Putin’s Palace.” Amenities in and around the 191,000-square-foot bungalow are said to include a casino, helipad, spa, hookah bar, arboretum, strip club, theater, the requisite ice palace, and something tantalizingly called an akvadiskoteka (aquatic disco). How do you say “carte blanche” in Russian? And how about in Italian?
Let’s say you’re Asia’s richest woman, and you lose $11 billion … but you’re still Asia’s richest woman. Could things be worse? Look around: they could. Yang Huiyan, whose father had transferred his shares in Country Garden, his property-development company, and turned her into the majority shareholder, “saw her net worth plunge by more than 52% to $11.3bn from $23.7bn a year ago, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index,” reported The Guardian. The latest casualty in China’s real-estate crisis is now “barely holding on to [her] title, with chemical fibres tycoon Fan Hongwei a close runner-up with a net worth of $11.2bn.”
Italian authorities are investigating a priest for “offence to a religious confession” after he celebrated Mass in the sea using an inflatable mattress as an altar. “Father Mattia Bernasconi, 36, from the archdiocese of Milan, said he had planned to hold Sunday’s ceremony among the trees by the beach in Crotone, southern Italy, after he had been helping with a week-long summer camp for high school students,” reported The Guardian. “However, having failed to find shade from the searing heat, Bernasconi said a nearby family offered the use of the inflatable mattress and the priest took to the water, conducting the service with everyone— himself included—in swimsuits.”
The photos went viral, as might be expected. “Bernasconi defended his actions on Wednesday,” said the newspaper, “while apologising for any offence, saying his behaviour was ‘perhaps imprudent’, adding he would not do it again.”
Russians largely banned from traveling in Europe have discovered Iran, none more enthusiastically than bloggers and influencers, who sign up for tour groups with a professional photographer to capture them posing “at Instagrammable sites such as the Shah Cheragh mosque and the Pink Mosque—both in Shiraz—and the ruins of Persepolis,” according to The Times of London.
“At a surface level,” noted the newspaper, these tours “reflect the burgeoning ties between Moscow and Tehran as the Kremlin finds itself isolated on the world stage.” Naturally, Vladimir Putin, in a sense Russia’s leading influencer, traveled to Tehran himself just last month, although no selfies of him preening in front of Chogha Zanbil in leather pants and personalized tees have surfaced—at press time.
France’s red postage stamp of “Marianne,” the symbol of the republic, has been around for some 150 years, and during half that time the image has been re-interpreted at the behest of whoever happened to be president. “Emmanuel Macron’s version, by the Franco-British street artist Yseult Digan in 2018, cast her as a fighting feminist with ‘the freedom of femininity which expresses itself without hiding,’ as the president described it,” said The Times of London. But “the decision by La Poste to end the next-day delivery service that carries Marianne has provoked nostalgia and grumbling,” reported the newspaper. “The service will be replaced by a ‘virtual e-letter’, which is sent via the internet or a visit to the post office, then printed near its destination and delivered. Thousands of tonnes of carbon and millions of euros will be saved, La Poste says.”
“Red Marianne” is on her way out, and The Times noted that while “a green Marianne will survive for a while as the second-class stamp.... La Poste wants to kill that too with ‘virtual stamps’. These are a set of numbers and letters the customer then copies by hand on to the envelope.” Plus ça change, etc.? No, for better or worse, this hardly sounds like la même chose. —George Kalogerakis
George Kalogerakis, one of the original editor-writers at Spy, later worked for Vanity Fair, New York, and The New York Times, where he was deputy op-ed editor. A co-author of Spy: The Funny Years and co-editor of Disunion: A History of the Civil War, he is a Writer at Large for AIR MAIL