Paris Hilton: Vienna’s Opera Ball Update

Paris Hilton’s impending visit to Vienna is the talk of the town – for all the wrong reasons.

The 25-year-old hotel heiress/reality TV star has been invited to the lavish Feb. 15 Opera Ball by Richard Lugner, whose previous guests include Geri Halliwell, Pamela Anderson and Carmen Electra.

Since Lugner, a 74-year-old married construction magnate, announced that Hilton would be his 2007 date, Austrian media have followed her every move, including her no-contest plea to alcohol-related reckless driving and her lawsuit against a Web site peddling her personal photos, videos and diaries.

Last week, a federal judge in Los Angeles issued a temporary injunction against Hilton has accused the site of exploiting her private personal belongings for commercial gain.

The Web site claims to have footage of Hilton in a “sexy bubble bath” video and various shots of her in “racy situations.”

“This makes a farce of the Opera Ball,” said Barbara Kroth, a retired real-estate agent who said she always looks forward to the annual affair “because of the quality it represents.”

Lugner dismissed Hilton’s detractors, telling reporters: “Look, there are probably three or four nude photos of me, too, stashed away somewhere.”

The Opera Ball draws about 4,500 well-heeled Austrian and foreign celebrities, dignitaries and socialites. Tickets often sell out months in advance. The ball costs $280 per person, although with extras such as gowns and tuxedos, flowers, limousines, high-end champagne and lavish dinners, the night typically runs $1,300 or more.

Boxes – and Lugner always reserves one – cost $20,700.

Elisabeth Guertler, a Vienna hotelier who oversees the ball, shrugged off the fuss.

“I’ve never asked any other guests what they do in their private lives,” she said.

Hilton’s publicist, Elliott Mintz, didn’t immediately return a message left Tuesday by The Associated Press.

Hilton has told the Austria Press Agency she just wants to enjoy the magic of the ball. That, and dance.

“I learned the waltz when I was young,” she said. “All I really have to do now is practice my steps.”


Posted: February 6th, 2007
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