Celebrity roundup

Nigella Lawson ‘disappointed’ by fraud verdict

 
 
LAWSON
LAWSON

Two former assistants to Nigella Lawson and her ex-husband were acquitted of fraud Friday, ending a trial in which allegations of unauthorized employee spending on luxury goods were overshadowed by titillating glimpses into the celebrity cook’s tumultuous home life.

The jury at London’s Isleworth Crown Court rejected prosecution claims that sisters Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo had used credit cards loaned to them by Lawson and Charles Saatchi for household expenses to run up unauthorized charges of 685,000 pounds (more than $1 million) on luxury clothes, designer handbags and high-end hotel rooms.

Defense attorneys for the Grillos had claimed that Lawson approved their high spending partly in exchange for their silence about her drug use. Lawson said Friday that she was “disappointed but unsurprised” by the verdict.

“Over the three-week trial, the jury was faced with a ridiculous sideshow of false allegations about drug use which made focus on the actual criminal trial impossible,” she said in a statement.

In court, the Grillos claimed to have seen signs of drug use around the house —including bags of white powder and rolled-up banknotes — although neither said they had seen Lawson taking drugs. The allegations shifted the spotlight from the high-spending sisters squarely onto Lawson and Saatchi, who divorced in July after he was photographed grabbing her neck outside a London restaurant.

Something wild

Usher says though Justin Bieber had a wild year, people shouldn’t count the pop singer out just yet.

“I mean more money more problems,” the R&B singer said in an interview at the premiere of Justin Bieber Believe in Los Angeles. “The beautiful part about it is that those that are invested in a long-term story, you understand that there are peaks and valleys in every person’s life some. Unfortunately the reality is he has to live with a camera in front of him, but what he chooses to do on or off camera is analyzed or scrutinized in some off way.”

Earlier this year Bieber was caught on camera clashing with a paparazzo. While touring the pop star fainted backstage at a London show and had to be taken to a hospital. These incidents came after photos of Bieber appearing to smoke marijuana hit the Web. During the summer, he also had to apologize by phone to Bill Clinton, for cursing the former president and spraying his photo with cleaning fluid in a New York City restaurant kitchen.

Ryan’s hope

Ryan O'Neal will be allowed to keep a portrait of his late and longtime partner Farrah Fawcett painted by famed artist Andy Warhol after a jury deemed him the rightful owner in a dispute with the University of Texas. The Austin-based university sued O'Neal over the ownership of the 1980 Warhol in 2011, after the Charlie's Angels star bequeathed her art collection to her alma mater before her 2009 death. That collection, now in university hands, includes a similar portrait of Fawcett — with her signature cascading tresses — painted by Warhol at the same time. The university said in court that Fawcett had wanted the school to have both portraits. The jury ruled 9-3 in O'Neal’s favor at the Los Angeles Superior Court.

Ciao for now

Katie Couric is calling it quits on her weekday talk show as she heads to Yahoo. Couric and Disney-ABC, which produces the syndicated Katie show, said it will wrap after this, its second season. It will continue to air through the summer.

Cute couple

The X Factor ended its third season with double vision: two winners in one. It’s boyfriend/girlfriend duo Alex & Sierra, aka Alex Kinsey and Sierra Deaton, Simon Cowell’s mentees.

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