On retainer to Prince Albert of Monaco
In Monaco on October 17th, I met with Virginia Gallico, lady-in-waiting to Princess Grace and, after her death, to Princess Caroline, and confidante to Prince Rainier.
Gallico did not know of my princely mission but met me as a long-time acquaintance.
Gallico told me she despised Thierry Lacoste and questioned his legal abilities.
Actually, she said he is “a terrible lawyer,” adding that Princess Caroline, who in the past had retained Lacoste for legal counsel, had lost faith in Lacoste and would have nothing more to do with him.
Gallico was particularly livid over Lacoste’s mishandling of the Prince’s relationship with Nicole Coste, the flight attendant from Togo and mother of Albert’s illegitimate son.
The media debacle exploded, said Gallico, because after Prince Rainier died Lacoste cut off Coste’s financial support.
Gallico referred to Lacoste as a “vulture” for how close he stuck to the Prince during the six days preceding Prince Rainier’s death, “hoping to seize power along with him.”
Coincidentally, my next meeting was with… Thierry Lacoste, the first and only time we would meet.
He squeezed a few minutes in for me at seven o’clock in Bar Americaine at Hotel de Paris.
Lacoste looked a little like Rowan Atkinson’s Mr. Bean character and carried a buffalo briefcase from Hermes.
“What has the Prince told you about me?” I asked, not wishing to waste time covering old ground.
“CIA, FBI, DST…” Lacoste bobbed his head, his eyelids fluttering imperiously.
“Good. So you know what I do.”
Lacoste said he had no objection (!) and proclaimed it “useful,” though qualified this by moaning about the FBI having kept files on his mother, Nadia, an American citizen who handled media relations for the Palace, while the DST believed her to be a CIA agent.
This apparently left him with disdain for intelligence services.
Lacoste lost no time informing me of his status as the Prince’s “best friend,” the same as Robert Munsch, though when I mentioned Munsch, it was a mystery to Lacoste (as to everyone) why the Prince continued to tolerate such a pushy leech.
Lacoste was familiar with our investigations into Franck Biancheri and Philippe Narmino.
He ventured the opinion that Biancheri should be sent far away (as ambassador) and that the allegations against Narmino were “probably true.”
The problem, he said, was that Narmino had been promised the top Justice job by Prince Rainier three years ago.
Nobody seemed to understand one simple fact: Prince Rainier was dead.
Furthermore, during most of the last five years of his life, Prince Rainier had been very ill, and those around him exploited his incapacity to think clearly.
Prince Albert was now Sovereign.
It should not have mattered what Rainier promised to anyone because: a) he was gone and b) he was not in his right mind when he’d made such promises.
I mentioned Carl Carlsson, on whose trail of bankruptcies we’d briefed the Prince and whom the Prince knew to be bandying his name to attract new investors/suckers.
Lacoste expressed concern, explaining that the Prince was “too nice,” which is what almost everyone said about him. (Those who knew the Prince well used nice as a euphemism for weak.)
Lacoste had a matter of his own he wished to discuss.
He had an important client who was resident in the principality, a Lebanese national named Samy Maroun.
Maroun had a little problem.
Like many of the other toadies in Monaco who suffered from Albertitis, Maroun wanted to buy a table at the Princess Grace Foundation Gala.
The problem was, this gala takes place in New York City, and Maroun was frightened to travel to the United States.
Something about dealing in embargoed oil and Iraqi Food for Oil corruption.
Lacoste asked me these questions:
Was Maroun on a US watch list? Would he be stopped at Immigration and hassled if he attempted to enter the USA?
Lacoste offered me payment to find out.
I declined this opportunity, explaining to Lacoste that I worked only for the Prince and that I strenuously avoided any conflict of interest, which included receiving payment from any other person or entity.
I hoped Lacoste learned something from this, for it was quite outrageous that on one hand he was trying to influence—and even manage—the Prince’s decision-making in Monaco while, on the other, not only representing Monaco-based clients, but representing clients whose continued presence in the principality was detrimental to the new ethic the Prince was publicly promoting (if not actually executing).
But I think my point sailed over his head.