LOS ANGELES (CN) – The designer of Angelina Jolie’s engagement ring has sued Perez Hilton for $500,000, plus punitive damages, claiming the celebrity blogger falsely implicated him of fraud.
Robert Procop says that Hilton, real name Mario Armando Lavandeira, made the libelous comments last month on cocoperez.com, the fashion-focused sister blog to his popular website perezhilton.com.
“On April 17, 2012, Lavandeira published an article (the ‘article’) on cocoperez.com entitled ‘Angelina Jolie’s Engagement Ring Designer Guilty of Fraud!'” the Superior Court complaint states. “In that article, including its title, Lavandeira accused plaintiff of having committed criminal and civil fraud in connection with a diamond necklace transaction. Lavandeira wrote that Plaintiff had been sued for that fraud and that the court awarded an $89,000 judgment against Procop.”
After news of the engagement between actors Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt broke on April 13, Jolie was photographed April 16 wearing a reported $1 million diamond ring designed by Procop.
Hilton’s blog reported on Procop’s supposed past indiscretion the next day.
Hilton’s article, attached as an exhibit to the lawsuit, states that a (nonparty) lawyer named Roy Allenstein bought what he believed was a 25.5 carat diamond necklace from Procop in 1985, but that an appraisal 11 years later revealed that necklace “only had 17.62 carats of diamonds.”
“Tragic,” the blogger added.
Procop says the CocoPerez article injured his reputation and caused “shame, mortification, and hurt feelings.”
“The statements that plaintiff was ‘guilty’ of fraud in connection with a jewelry transaction and that the court in the fraud action had entered a judgment against plaintiff are false,” according to the complaint.
“The statements that plaintiff was ‘guilty of fraud in connection with his jewelry business and that a court had awarded a judgment against him for that fraud is libelous on its face. Those statements expose plaintiff to hatred, contempt, ridicule and obloquy and they naturally have a tendency to injure plaintiff in his occupation as a jeweler and jewelry designer, as a world-renowned jewelry designer and jeweler. Plaintiff’s reputation for honesty is of critical importance to his business.”
Procop says tens of thousands of people read the article, and that Hilton is liable for republications of the same article elsewhere.
“The article was published by Lavandeira with knowledge of its falsity and with reckless disregard for its truth,” the lawsuit says. “Lavanderia willfully ignored that there is no court judgment against Procop in connection with any fraud action. Lavanderia refused to retract the defamatory statements and take down the article from his website even after he was informed of their falsity.”
Once a chief executive of the jeweler Aspreys, Procop owns jewelers in Beverly Hills, Geneva and Hong Kong. He has reportedly worked with Jolie for 10 years, and is planning to release a line of jewelry called “The Style of Jolie.”
Procop is represented by Robert Chapman with Eisner, Kahan & Gorry of Beverly Hills, Calif.
Procop could not be reached for an interview, and representatives for Perez Hilton did not respond to emailed requests for comment.