Published May 18, 2013
CANNES, France – She was a blonde in a low-cut, tiger print dress, wearing six inch heels, sitting alone in the mirrored lobby of the Radisson Bleu hotel in Cannes, France.
“Would you take my picture?” she asked FOX411, before directing several shots on her iPhone from several different angles.
The woman then rushed out the door of the hotel and into the park across the street.
Ten minutes later, she was back, following a man up the stairs.
From her behavior and appearance, the odds are that this woman was a prostitute, one of thousands who descend on the city each year during the Cannes Film Festival.
In a lengthy expose, The Hollywood Reporter interviewed Elie Nahas, who was convicted of running a prostitution ring in Cannes in 2007, one that supplied women to Muammar Qaddafi’s son, Moatessem, among others.
While Nahas proclaims he was innocent, he told the magazine that prostitutes in Cannes can make “up to $40,000 a night. Arabs are the most generous people in the world… At Cannes, they carry money around in wads of 10,000 euros. They don’t even like to count it.”
Prostitutes told the magazine that lots of deals indeed go down in parks and hotel lobbies, where men use hand signals to negotiate prices and communicate their room number.
During Nahas’ trial, prosecutors said an investigation that included wire taps on Nahas and several of his associates concluded young women, including models, beauty queens, and escorts, were flown in from around the world and stationed on yachts moored in the Mediterranean. Men, mostly from the Middle East, then gave “gifts” of thousands and thousands of euros to have sex with them.
An attorney who worked on the case, Patrick Rizzo, said some of the women were not even prostitutes. "They were led to believe they might be photographed [in Cannes] and they fell into the trap of violence and threats,” Rizzo told The Guardian.
Nahas, who lives in Lebanon, was sentenced in abstentia in 2012 to eight years in prison in France. He is appealing his conviction, and is afraid he’ll be busted by Interpol if he ever leaves Lebanon.
But while Nahas isn’t able to travel to Cannes this year, the prostitutes still can. And apparently have.