top
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature
Related Categories: Palestine | International
For charity & stars, new book Hollywood Pinups tainted by diamond mogul Lev Leviev
by Adalah-NY (info [at] adalahny.org)
Monday Oct 27th, 2008 9:30 AM
The October 28 release of the celebrity portrait book Hollywood Pinups by photographer Timothy White is being marred by controversy, as a charity, Oxfam America, and stars distance themselves from Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev who provided the jewelry worn by stars in the book.
Adalah-NY: The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East
Media Contacts: info [at] adalahny.org

For charity & stars, new book Hollywood Pinups tainted by diamond mogul Lev Leviev

Charities and celebs seek distance from controversial Israeli settlement-builder

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New York, NY, October 27, 2008 – The October 28 release of the celebrity portrait book Hollywood Pinups by photographer Timothy White is being marred by controversy, as a charity and stars distance themselves from Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev who provided the jewelry worn by stars in the book. Oxfam America is named in the book as recipient of White’s book sales proceeds, and on the page immediately before, Leviev is thanked for his “support and contribution” to the book. In response, Oxfam America, which had renounced Leviev in January, has again decried Leviev’s settlement construction and diamond mining practices, and announced that it will be informing others of “the deliberate strategy of Leviev Diamonds to connect itself with unwitting charities and celebrities.” In June, UNICEF renounced all connections with Leviev.

Eighteen of twenty-three celebrity women in the book wore Leviev’s diamonds. The New York rights coalition Adalah-NY has contacted many - Susan Sarandon, Tea Leoni, Felicity Huffman, Vanessa Williams, Kate Hudson, Kate Walsh, Molly Sims, Mary-Kate Olsen, and Gina Gershon - and asked them to renounce all connections with Leviev.

Nicole Caruso, a Vice President in New York for WKT Public Relations, which represents Tea Leoni, Kate Walsh, Felicity Huffman, Mary-Kate Olsen, and Melissa George, told a representative of Adalah-NY on Friday by phone that WKT had informed Leviev’s representatives that they cannot use the names of the stars represented by their firm. Adalah-NY also notes that a photo of Oxfam “Ambassador” Kristin Davis wearing Leviev’s jewelry has been removed from Leviev’s website. Susan Sarandon, who was previously embroiled in controversy after attending the opening of Leviev's New York jewelry store despite a protest, wrote the book’s foreward, but did not wear Leviev’s diamonds in her photo in Hollywood Pinups.

Lubna Ka’aabneh of Adalah-NY explained, “We don’t believe that the stars who wore Leviev’s diamonds knew that the diamonds were tainted by human rights violations in Palestine and Angola. Now that they do, we expect them to follow Oxfam and UNICEF’s lead, by forbidding Leviev from using their names and photos.” In a related development, after contacts from Adalah-NY, Leviev was removed from the list of previously announced sponsors of the Children's Diabetes Foundation's (CDF) star-studded Carousel of Hope Ball held last Saturday in Beverly Hills. CDF said this did not represent a judgement on the merits of Adalah-NY’s claims about Leviev (see related press release).

In January, Adalah-NY informed Oxfam that Leviev was touting support for the organization. Oxfam responded by stating that it had not received support from Leviev, and that it does not accept support from individuals who violate international law. But Leviev’s claims of links to Oxfam continued.

In an October 21 statement on Hollywood Pinups, Adrienne Smith, an Oxfam America spokesperson in Boston, explained, “At some point in the process, Leviev Diamonds offered to provide diamonds for some of the photo shoots, but Oxfam was not aware of this. Just a few weeks ago, Adalah-NY tipped us off to the fact that Leviev Diamonds were promoting their inclusion in the book and using this to claim to be Oxfam supporters… Oxfam reiterates our policy that we are not and never will be partners or beneficiaries of Leviev because of both his mining practices and his support of Israeli settlements on Occupied Palestinian Lands which is in contravention of International Law and a major obstacle in the road to peace… Oxfam is disturbed to find ourselves used in this way and we intend to be proactive in informing those in our community about the deliberate strategy of Leviev Diamonds to connect itself with unwitting charities and celebrities.”

Leviev’s LA-based PR firm BluPRint has a case study about Leviev on their website explaining their strategy of “engaging the Hollywood and celebrity community,” and aiding “in Leviev's charity alliances and event partnerships to maximize the brand recognition and partnering opportunities in the US.” Alexis Stern of Adalah-NY explained that, “The developments with CDF, Oxfam, UNICEF, and various stars signal the collapse of Leviev and BluPRint’s cynical public relations strategy. No amount of deception, branding and PR can make a businesses’ human rights abuses acceptable.”

Leviev’s companies Africa Israel and Leader have recently built homes in at least four Israeli settlements in the West Bank. In 2007, New York Magazine reported that Angolan security companies employed by Leviev were accused of torture, sexual abuse and even murdering Angolans. In Namibia Leviev recently fired 222 striking diamond polishers. And in Brooklyn and at the Apthorp in Manhattan, Leviev’s construction of luxury apartments threatens to displace low- and moderate-income residents.

For a version with links to sources see: http://adalahny.org/index.php/press-releases/248-hollywwood-pinups-tainted-leviev
LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the latest comments about this post.
These comments are submitted anonymously by website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
Oxfam America statement on Hollywood Pinups & LevievTedMonday Oct 27th, 2008 3:19 PM