I’ve been following this story for a couple of days because it’s fascinating. I just couldn’t figure out how to bring it to Jewlicious because there was no Jewish aspect to it.
I am happily wrong.
Welcome to the story of Helg Sgarbi, AKA the Swiss Gigolo, who was sentenced to six years in prison for blackmailing women, particularly Susanne Klatten, heiress to the BMW fortune and one of the wealthiest women in the world.
Helg had a taste for the finer things in life, afforded to him by the successful squiring of a number of very wealthy women.
Sgarbi told the court he had specifically targeted Klatten, laying the groundwork for his scheme when he first met her at a spa near Innsbruck, Austria, in July 2007.
Using what prosecutors called a well-practiced scam, he showed up a month later at her vacation home in the south of France and their affair began. Then he told Klatten that he was involved in a car accident in the United States that left the girl paralyzed, and persuaded Klatten to give him the cash for her treatment.
According to her police statement, Klatten was initially taken aback by the story, but eventually met him in a parking garage to hand over the $9 million in cash, packed in a large cardboard box.
Sgarbi then demanded Klatten leave her family and invest $367 million in a trust for him, according to the indictment. When she refused, he threatened to release secretly filmed videos of their affair.
Sgarbi demanded $62 million not to tell her family, the heads of her companies and the media. He lowered the demand to $17.72 million but Klatten instead went to the police in January 2008. Sgarbi was arrested in Austria’s Tyrolean Alps and has been held in detention since.
Klatten was brave enough to tell her husband about the affair, which is not a small thing considering they have 3 children and she must have been aware she was risking a lot. Then again, she owns 12% of BMW and almost all of a large chemical/pharma concern. She’s said to be worth nearly $10 billion and is listed as Germany’s richest person and the 68th richest person in the world. She’s also a trained economist with an MBA.
Why did she fall for Sgarbi? In testimony she has said, â€œHe was charming, attentive and at the same time he seemed very sad. That stirred a feeling in me that we had something in common.â€ In another interview, Klatten said, “”There was a moment of clarity. You are a victim now and you have to resist. Otherwise it will never end. I am struggling now in the name of every woman in my family and the names of many other women…. I am glad to have done this.”
Well, most women don’t have 7 million Euros cash to hand over in a parking lot, but I think we get her meaning. As for Sgarbi, who speaks 6 languages, is a lawyer and was an investment banker specializing in mergers and acquisitions, he only received 6 years instead of 10 because he didn’t contest the matter in court and thereby prevented Klatten and three other women he had tricked from having to testify.
There is more. Sgarbi apparently had an accomplice, Ernano Barretta, who apparently runs a sect in Italy of which Sgrabi was a member. Barretta is accused of having helped make the sex tapes of Klatten and Sgarbi – tapes which have disappeared – that Sgarbi was threatening to distribute if Klatten didn’t pay up.
Barretta has told police that there is indeed a Jewish angle to this crime. Klatten is the daughter of Herbert Quandt and granddaughter of Gunther Quandt, who have been accused of using slave labor and helping the Nazi war machine by supplying armaments in WWII. As Barretta told police about Sgarbi, “Helg’s grandfather was Jewish and during the Second World War was deported to a steel works in Germany…Susanne Klatten is the daughter of a close collaborator of Adolf Hitler. We wanted to avenge Helg’s grandfather. I helped him because we’ve been friends all our lives.”
By the way, very little of the many millions Sgarbi collected from his victims has been found. I sense a nice retirement coming for this man after his sojourn in jail.
The big winner in all of this is Holiday Inn. That’s the chain of hotels where Klatten and Sgarbi would meet for their affair.