Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Ken Starr: Did He Make Pacino Offers He Couldn’t Refuse?



The exclusive stories of how Ken Starr, the jailed Hollywood money manager, financed his 20 year Ponzi scheme started here on May 29th.

I told you then how Starr had become financial adviser to Joan Stanton, widow of wealthy Volkswagen importer Arthur Stanton. Arthur died in 1987 and left an $80 million plus estate to his wife. Starr had advised him not to leave money to his children in trust. Starr told Stanton that he would make sure the kids–including novelist Jane Stanton Hitchcock–would be well taken care of.

But by 2006, the Stanton children sensed there was something not right with Ken Starr‘s advice to their elderly mother. They wrested control of her accounts, and hired new lawyers and accountants. Joan Stanton sued Starr and his business partner, Planet Hollywood mogul Keith Barish, in 2008.

Unfortunately before any settlements were reached, Joan Stanton died in 2009 at age 94. Later that year, her estate settled with Barish. Early this year, the estate settled with Starr. The case was closed. Or so everyone thought.

Perhaps with his funds depleted by the Stanton settlement and legal fees, Starr — the government says–began stealing big time from his celebrity clients. They included a trifecta of Simons–Carly, Paul and Neil. Also Mike Nichols and Diane Sawyer. Uma Thurman.

But word had gone out in 2008 that there was trouble. Clients left. So did advisers who worked for the firm. Many celebrities now deny ever investing with Starr. Other says they “got out” before the trouble kicked in.

One former client who won’t tell her story–Courtney Sale Ross, widow of Warner Communications founder Steven Ross.

Denise Rich, who many think is referred to as the ex wife of a wealthy man who may have lost as much as $5 million with Starr, tells me she “never” invested with him.

Recently, a parade of stars filed through the SEC offices in New York to talk to investigators about Ken Starr. Carly Simon was one. Al Pacino was another. Pacino and his lifelong friend and mentor producer Marty Bregman got tangled up with Starr a few years ago. At the HBO premiere of Pacino’s Dr. Kevorkian movie last winter, at the Four Seasons, Pacino, Bregman, and Starr were thick as thieves.

The Starr saga reaches in many directions. We told you right here exclusively about Starr’s divorce from wife number 3, Marisa Vucci, mother of his two teenage daughters. She was to receive $750,000 a year in perpetuity, plus a weekly salary from Starr’s firm–where she used to work.

Then, last week I told you that it was discovered that Starr had a leased Yukon Denali that was chauffeuring Marisa around with a driver. He also had squirreled away three Mercedes. And he has a swanky apartment with paid up rent on East 79th St. waiting for him if he gets out of jail.

Meantime, his current wife, Diane Passage, a former Scores pole dancer, sits in their $5.5 million apartment on East 74th St. She’s lived there since April. By the end of this month she assumes, she tells friends, she will be gone.

Last week, I told you that Starr’s daughters sneaked into New York from Long Island and went to his bail hearing.  Bail was set at $10 million.

And then there are a bunch of names in the mix. Besides Barish, there’s an attorney, Jonathan Bristol, formerly at Park Avenue firm Winston & Strawn, who may be key in the government’s case. There’s former New York City Council president Andrew Stein, whose brother Jimmy Finkelstein, owns The Hill.com and is an investor in the Hollywood Reporter. Stein was arrested with Starr, but released. And Marvin Rosen, former Democratic party fundraiser for Clinton 1996. Rosen and Starr, like Barish and Starr, were Velcro’d together.

Let’s also not forget that Michael Douglas’s ex wife, Diandra, suddenly sued him this spring for money he’s making from “Wall Street 2.” This, despite her $45 million divorce settlement. Who was Diandra’s financial adviser? Why, Ken Starr, of course.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedmanhttps://www.showbiz411.com
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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