Oleg Cassini’s Widow Sues Vanity Fair

     MANHATTAN (CN) – Oleg Cassini’s widow claims Vanity Fair defamed her in an article that did not meet “even the most minimal journalistic standards.” She demands $10 million from Conde Nast Publications.
     Marianne Nestor-Cassini was the famous fashion designer’s third wife. He died in 2006 at 92.
     Oleg Cassini was married briefly (1938-1940) to Mary Fahrney, the daughter of a Chicago businessman. Cassini was her fourth husband. His second wife was actress Gene Tierney, to whom he was married from 1941 to 1953.
     Nestor-Cassini claims she was married to Oleg Cassini from 1971 until he died. Last year she suedthe two children Oleg Cassini had Tierney, in a squabble over his estate.
     In the present lawsuit, Nestor-Cassini claims that Conde-Nast reporter Maureen Orth began contacting Nestor-Cassini’s friends about an article she was writing for Vanity Fair about Oleg. The article was published in Vanity Fair in September 2010, under the title “Cassini Royale.”
     Nestor-Cassini claims: “Upon becoming aware of the innuendos being made to plaintiff’s contacts and reporting statements being made that were slanderous, libelous and inaccurate. Marianne personally called the office of Vanity Fair to report this improper and damaging ‘reporting’.”
     She says her calls were ignored.
     She says Maureen Orth asked her for an interview in May 2010 but she refused.
     “Marianne declined Maureen’s request for an interview as there is pending estate litigation which Maureen insisted was the focus of the piece, and the substance of Maureen’s interview as relayed by various people was allegedly to support a later ‘fantasy’ type novel,” complaint states.
     Without input from her, Nestor-Cassini says, “an article entitled ‘Cassini Royale’ was published in the September, 2010 edition of Vanity Fair magazine and subsequently published on the Vanity Fair website which contains false details concerning Marianne and her relationship with Oleg and others.”
     The complaint continues: “The article contains numerous false and misleading descriptions and misrepresentations of fact and other material of a disparaging and scandalous nature which is or will be injurious to the reputation of Marianne and Oleg.
     “Upon information and belief, defendants had knowledge of the falsity of these purported factual representations and/or recklessly disregarded their truth by failing o properly source and fact check the material in accordance with even the most minimal journalistic standards.
     “An example being – a question from Robert Walsh, counsel for Conde Nast, in an email which stated: ‘id Marianne have parties at a Fifth Avenue apartment in the 1960’s – to which prominent New York men such as Bill Paley were invited’.
     “Marianne never had a Fifth Avenue apartment in the 1960’s nor did she even know Bill Paley; Si Newhouse, Chairman of Advance Publications, should know this to be false, as Marianne was living in Soho, and Si Newhouse would drive her home after dinner at Orsini’s on West 56th Street, in the same time period. Si was not married at the time.
     “Defendants have acted with malice.
     “Plaintiff has been informed by many reliable sources that Conde Nast’s fact checking for the article had included questions of a salacious and prurient nature which were patently false and geared toward sensationalism and intended to injure Marianne.
     “Conde Nast has injured plaintiff’s reputation by contacting her friends and colleagues and asking questions which imply completely false and libelous information about the plaintiff.”
     Nestor-Cassini demands $10 million, alleging slander and libel.
     The defendants are Advance Publications and Advance Magazine Publishers dba Conde Nast Publications.
     Nestor-Cassini is represented by J. Vincent Reppert with Reppert Kelly of Basking Ridge, N.J.

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