Ponzi schemer fleeces Hollywood/Media celebrities
"He promised me a 28% annual return" - Carly Simon
Director Mike Nichols and his news-anchor wife, Diane Sawyer; The View’s Barbara Walters; writer-director Nora Ephron and her husband, author and scriptwriter Nick Pileggi.
Photographer Annie Leibovitz came in partly because photographer Richard Avedon had been a client. Columnist Liz Smith came aboard in part because Time Warner heiress Courtney Sale Ross was a client.
U.S. State Department heavy Richard Holbrooke and his wife, writer Kati Marton; author Ken Auletta and his wife, literary agent Binky Urban; journalist David Halberstam; and veteran publisher Joe Armstrong. All were or had been Starr clients.
Who was the lure for bringing in news anchors Tom Brokaw and Matt Lauer, and the late Walter Cronkite? Or sportscaster Frank Gifford and his wife, television hostess Kathie Lee? Or NBC chief Jeff Zucker and his wife, Karen? Who could say for sure, but what TV heavyweight wouldn’t want to join a club that had luminaries like those as members?
On and on it went: from Hollywood producers Scott Rudin and Ron Howard to Broadway’s Neil Simon and Gene Saks. Movie directors Jonathan Demme, Sam Mendes, and Doug Liman, actors Liam Neeson, Al Pacino, Warren Beatty, and Candice Bergen, political satirist Michael Moore, singer-songwriters Paul Simon and Carly Simon, fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi—all were clients.
Former Citibank chairman Donald Marron and Sony chairman Howard Stringer—clients, both of them. Even Caroline Kennedy was a client. Some just had Starr do their taxes and pay their bills. (Vanity Fair editor in chief Graydon Carter was in this camp.) But many had let Starr talk them into giving him their money to invest.