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PAUL ALLEN: FRIENDS ARE CONCERNED

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has worried his close friends. Little by little they’ve spread the word at the Cannes Film Festival that the billionaire is sick, perhaps with a recurrence of Hodgkin’s disease, which he overcame in 1983.

The reason is that Allen, who has a home near Cannes, split from the festival last Tuesday right after his big Monday night gala on his 414-foot yacht, Octopus. I told you last week that Allen hosted the celebrities who were in town, his favorite thing to do, but did not play any music. That may have been one source of the rumors, since a healthy, happy Allen inflicts his guitar-playing on guests at the drop of a hat.

Guests and close friends from last Monday’s party were under the impression that Allen’s quick retreat to Seattle was not about work, but for medical reasons. Allen has recently lost a substantial amount of weight, and that may have been more kindling for the rumors.

A close friend of Allen’s swore to me that he left early for medical reasons, and that his cancer may be back. Let’s hope not. Allen’s spokesman David Postman says it’s untrue, that he spoke to Allen the other day, that he’s busy as ever on email and working hard.

“These rumors started last fall, I don’t know why they’re back,” Postman told me. He says they started around the time similar stories circulated about Apple’s Steve Jobs, who also had a sudden weight drop, spurring illness rumors that turned out be true.