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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
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Billionaire Says Butler|Tried to Extort Him

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A "failed" entertainer moonlighting as a butler kicked a billionaire's niece and targeted the man in a "disgusting and despicable" extortion ruse, British mogul James Stunt claims in court.

James Stunt sued Carl Hajik on Monday, in Superior Court.

Stunt, 33, is an intensely private man whose net worth is estimated at $5 billion to $7 billion. He has a renowned art collection, one of the best wine collections in the world, and more than 200 classic automobiles, according to English news reports. He is married to Petra Ecclestone, daughter of Bernie Ecclestone, also a billionaire, the CEO of Formula One Group, which manages Formula 1 racing. Stunt and his wife live in London and Los Angeles - in L.A., in Aaron Spelling's former home.

In his lawsuit, Stunt says he employed Hajik, who represented himself as a "qualified butler," for four months. He says Hajik "never raised a complaint about working conditions," and "regularly praised" Stunt and his family, who "provided him with generous compensation packages."

Hajik in "numerous" social media posts claimed to be a full-time "professional entertainer" while working for the Stunts, the lawsuit states, under the stage name "Santangelo."

But Stunt says Hajik was actually an "abusive con man, ill-fit for the position" who filed for bankruptcy and faced eviction actions.

He says he fired Hajik on Aug. 29, "for kicking Mr. Stunt's niece and walking away without offering to help the little girl."

Hajik, the lawsuit states, said the girl was in "his way" and "it was not his fault," and "appeared to be laughing" while she sobbed in pain.

Stunt says he told Hajik his behavior was "unacceptable, unprofessional and dangerous" and that his failure to take responsibility was "morally repugnant and reprehensible," and told him to "leave immediately."

Hajik then sent Stunt extortion demands and in September said he would "present eye-opening claims" to the media and a "smattering of wage and hour violations" if Stunt did not pay a "ransom," according to the complaint.

Hajik allegedly added, "We can settle this 'before anyone hears a peep - certainly the preferred manner of disposition to many newsworthy defendants.'"

Hajik set a Sept. 22 deadline for the so-called ransom, Stunt says, and in October asked why Stunt was "radio silent."

On Oct. 23, the lawsuit states, Hajik sent another letter claiming that he would file "a high-profile lawsuit against Mr. Stunt which will certainly generate press and attention."

Stunt says he gave the letters to the Los Angeles Police Department and "refused to negotiate with an extortionist."

On or around Dec. 14, Hajik leaked a civil complaint to the press, which Stunt has "still not received and cannot even verify its case number or existence," according to the complaint.

"According to reports, Mr. Hajik did not hide his intention stating he wants 'way over $25,000,'" Stunt added.

Hajik, the lawsuit states, "will be held accountable for his frivolous claims, his abuse toward a minor, and his extortion efforts."

Hajik's LinkedIn profile, checked Wednesday, says he works as an "independent entertainment professional" and enjoys portrait art and watercolor, running, and "most definitely dining around town."

Stunt seeks punitive damages for civil extortion and negligence.

He is represented by Mark Geragos with Geragos & Geragos, who declined to comment.

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