The arrested ex-boyfriend of "Devil Wears Prada" star Anne Hathaway, Raffaelo Follieri, is being questioned about claims he made about ties to the Catholic Church and the Vatican.
Well, there’s at least one Catholic group that liked him: The Society for Propagation of the Faith, a group of Catholic missionaries founded in 1822 by Pauline Jaricot.
Follieri is still advertising — through one of his Web sites — a Visa credit card registered with Washington Mutual that benefited that group which is supposed to be a charity designed, vaguely, to foster Catholic values.
But a check of charities registered with the name Society (etc.) comes up with very little. There are a couple of organizations listed through GuideStar, the charity registry, under that name. Only one, in Pittsburgh, has any money: $100,000 in net assets.
However, the New York version of the Society is listed, mysteriously, as the Duwel Company, at 366 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.
A year ago, Follieri was named according to a press release, “a special consultant to the national office of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States by the national director, Monsignor John E. Kozar.”
Kozar also happens to be the head director of The Duwel Company. He’s one of a half dozen clergy listed on the board, according to Duwel’s tax filings. Kozar is also head of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States — aka the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. Calls to the Duwel company Wednesday night were not returned.
The Duwel Company, which has federal tax filings going back only three years, has deposited and withdrawn a little over $6 million under the guise of religious affiliation during its short life.
In 2006, revenue was $1,345,219. Expenses were $1,331,842. In 2005, revenue was $1,527.875. Expenses were $1,470,000. In 2004, revenue was $3,394.983. Expenses were $3,414,339.
On not one of the three Duwel tax filings do they indicate where the money came from or where it went. They use only this as an explanation on their tax filing:
“The Duwel Company was organized to hold title to certain real property devised to [benefit] The Society for the Propagation of the Faith. All income is paid to The Society for the Propagation of the Faith and applied by said Society for the corporate purposes, i.e. support and maintenance of the Roman Catholic Church and propagation of the Roman Catholic religion.”
Are those the same “real properties” Follieri was supposedly buying when he told people he was purchasing abandoned real estate of the Roman Catholic Church?
The Follieri Capital Web site advertises a one percent donation on purchases from its World Missions Credit Card to benefit The Society for Propagation of the Faith.
According to Follieri Capital’s Web site, “Follieri Capital is proud to introduce the World Missions Visa® credit card. This unique card provides financial support for the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. The Society assists priests, Religious Sisters and Brothers, and lay leaders in more than 1,150 Catholic dioceses in the world’s poorest nations. The World Missions Visa® credit card will help give these dedicated missionaries the essential backing needed to bring Jesus’ gift of love and hope to the poor and suffering around the globe.”
Of note: The Web site for the card still exists, although the link to WaMu has expired. Nevertheless, a call to Duwel Company produces a “press 1” option to hear more about the card.
According to the New York Times, the credit card was created with the help of Howard Kessler a former CPA and founder of the Boston-based The Kessler Group, inventor of something called the Affinity credit card. It’s just one of many Byzantine entanglements the government investigators will have to sort out as they investigate Follieri’s world.
Barbara Walters is going to Syria on a diplomatic mission — unofficially, of course.
Walters, in a transcript from her most recent Sirius radio show, says she’s been summoned to the Middle Eastern hot spot by President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. She acknowledged that it’s a "terrorist country."
This little bit of information came right before she interviewed comedian and filmmaker Mel Brooks.
"The president does not want to do an interview, he would just like to have a private meeting. I’m not sure I know why," Walters tells her producer, Bill Geddie.
Al-Assad was named No. 10 on the "World’s Worst Dictator" list by Parade magazine in 2007, up from No. 16 the year before.
Its description: "Bashar al-Assad gradually has assumed greater control of the military and intelligence services. Recently, his administration was implicated in assassinations in Lebanon. A U.N. report, due in June, will detail Syria’s role. Assad is perhaps the unlikeliest of dictators: He was doing postgraduate work in ophthalmology in London when his late father, Syrian dictator Hafiz al-Assad, summoned him home in 1994 and began training him to run the country."
The Walters radio show transcript was provided by Sirius. And, no, it’s not common for members of the press to have private meetings with the presidents of other countries, especially those countries thought to house terrorists.
But Walters, who works for the entertainment division of ABC, often has idealized herself as a member of the State Department and the Fourth Estate. For example, in 1987 Walters passed papers from an Iranian arms dealer to President Ronald Reagan concerning Lt. Col. Oliver North’s participation in the Iran-Contra affair.
Walters on her invitation to visit Syria:
BILL GEDDIE: You're going to Syria.
BARBARA WALTERS: Yes.
GEDDIE: Why are you going to Syria? I mean ... I hear ... Turks and Caicos is nice this time of year. Why Syria?
WALTERS: I grant you, it's a rather odd place to be going ... and especially because it is considered by the United States to be a terrorist country. I've been there before. I was invited several years ago by the wife of the president of Syria, President Assad. His wife, by the way, was raised in England and speaks better English than I do.
The president of Syria invited me. I know the Syrian ambassador to the United Nations. The president does not want to do an interview, but he would like a private meeting. I'm not sure I know why...
GEDDIE: It's like you're going there ... you don't know what he wants to talk to you about?
WALTERS: Well, I will find out. I went to meet his wife. I didn't know what she wanted to talk about. I will pay my respects. I'm going with a friend and I want to see some of the wonderful Roman ruins because Syria has some of the great ruins in the world.
I mentioned a couple of celebrity birthdays on Wednesday, then fell into the Waverly Inn, where Mary J. Blige and hubby Kendu Isaacs were toasting pal Steve Stoute on his 38th.
Three feet away, former Avenue editor and New York Times Style writer Jill Brooke was being feted for her own birthday by hubby Gary Goldstein, whose Whitney Group is booming on Wall Street, and a gaggle of friends…
Just an hour earlier, the Waverly Inn had been the site of a cocktail party celebrating Alex Gibney’s new documentary, "Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson," about the late, wild, groundbreaking writer, hosted by Graydon Carter.
Meg Ryan put in an appearance — wearing her trademark granny sunglasses — as did the ever-dapper and delightful Dominick Dunne; Candice Bergen (always my fave!) with daughter Chloe Malle (her dad was the late amazing French director Louis Malle); Eammon Bowles; Charlie Rose; Jimmy Buffet; Brian Williams; Gail Sheehy; "Traffic" producer Laura Bickford with actor/husband, the great Sam Bottoms; famed writer (and nattily attired) Gay Talese; and Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Kennedy ("Ironweed") with beautiful wife, Dana, and son Brendan, also — it’s a theme — 38. The Kennedy family had known Thompson since 1959.
Also buzzing about: Vanity Fair’s knockout PR lady Beth Kseniak; Fran Lebowitz; Lisa Robinson; Jann Wenner; and the eternally young Jane Rose. The latter is the lady behind the Rolling Stones and Keith Richards’ continued successes. ...
Vikram Chatwal, who was to host the after-after-party at his Night Hotel on West 46th Street, told me he’s still got Madonna’s handbag, the one he paid more than $300,000 for at the Cannes AmFar Auction last month.
"I’m holding onto it for now, but eventually I might donate it to a museum," he said. How about the Museum of Sex, on Fifth and 27th!? Just kidding!