The Times of London reports that the entry of Marie-Josée Kravis, the Queen of Manhattan’s social Alist, into Lord Black’s fraud trial was not observed by his wife, Barbara Amiel, last Friday. Rather than face the ordeal, Amiel stayed in her hotel room. That also saved her seeing Black’s pained expression. He would have surely recalled that while most of his media empire was sold, he spent millions on mansions, jets, couture clothes and jewellery to maintain Lady Black’s membership of Kravis’s aristocratic club.
Until four years ago, the Blacks and the Kravises enjoyed cosy dinners in Manhattan. Regularly Kravis, a Canadian economist and wife of the private-equity financier Henry Kravis, and Amiel exchanged girly intimacies. The Kravises’ fondness for the Blacks encouraged Marie-Josée Kravis to become in 1996 a director of Hollinger International, Black’s US media company. More important, she became a member of Hollinger’s audit committee, which explains her rare public appearance in Chicago. Black’s alleged $60m (£30m) frauds not only escaped Kravis’s attention but were partly ratified by her signature on documents submitted by Hollinger to shareholders and the Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC).
Kravis’s appearance confirmed a turning point in the six-week trial. She systematically contradicted Black’s defence and her shortest answers were the most damning.