He’s no Madoff or Stanford, but comely actor Sean Connery may have bilked one of his close associates out of millions of dollars, too.
According to the Daily Mail, next week, the Palais de Justice is summoning Connery to Geneva to address allegations that he swindled the family of Jean Rene, a once-close friend who borrowed money from Connery in the 1970s — at a whopping 1000 percent interest rate.
Rene, a native of Nice, apparently used the money to snap up land in the South of France, providing Connery with collateral in the form of “luxury property, diamonds and shares,” according to “judicial sources.”
After a falling out with Rene, however, Connery sold the goods, and therein lies the problem. Ricky Galliano, a spokesman for the Rene family, says the original loan from Connery was roughly £3million but that the items underwriting it, including the diamonds and a £1.5million villa, were worth closer to £10million by the time Connery disposed of them.
Galliano told the paper that with inflation, that £10million would now be worth £50million.
Rene’s family has been seeking money from Connery since 2002, when Jean Rene died. The now 78-year-old actor, the value of whose self-made fortune is estimated at between $100 million and $200 million, has maintained all along that he owes the family nothing.
Connery, who starred in seven James Bond movies, is almost as renowned for his ruthless frugality as for his debonair looks. He lives in the Bahamas as a tax exile. He sometimes refuses to sign autographs because he doesn’t want them sold on the Internet for a profit. Using legal proceedings, Connery also also bankrupted both a small film studio and his former financial adviser, about whom he allegedly told a reporter, “I know I have won the case for damages, but I would have been far happier if I could have kicked him all over the place.” (Heh.)
In his own autobiography, published last summer, Connery also made a thinly veiled reference to Bond producer Albert Broccoli, who he once sued for royalties (settling out of court): “What I’m really tired of is a lot of fat slob producers living off the back of lean actors.”