Music PR and ex-tabloid journalist proved to be a bizarre, engaging character on the dry circuit of press promotions
Until this week, when in a near-comic cameo Rob Goldstone was thrust into the daily drama of the Trump presidency, the British publicist was as a peripheral figure in New York.
Goldstones claim that he organised the meeting between Donald Trump Jr and a Moscow lawyer, which promised to furnish information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia, has provided an insight into the decadence and pratfalls of the presidents family and their entourage and possibly more.
Although the extent to which the music publicist and former tabloid journalist was the architect of the offer to the Trump camp or simply its messenger is not clear, he now finds himself cast as a Falstaffian figure in the ongoing saga of the first familys uncomfortably close relations with Russia. It is a reputation perhaps fueled by him having once penned a story for the New York Times about being worrisomely overweight, which was entitled The Tricks and Trials of Traveling While Fat.
While this casting might be unfortunate, it may not be so unexpected for a man who has promoted events ranging from Miss Universe, a Quentin Tarantino dinner and party for the pop star son of Russian Trump-esque developer Aras Agalarov, would be one to perform this service.
But back in 2007, Goldstone, the co-founder of the comically titled Oui 2 PR, had taken a detour into ecotourism. Wed met at a corporate party in which a deep-pocketed hedge-funder had hired Aretha Franklin to perform and, simultaneously, for go-go girls to dance atop columns.
This had its own fall of Rome feel to it: Wall Street was pumped with money and successful bankers were blowing it any way they could. Within months, subprime mortgage-backed derivatives blew up the US economy, an event that would contribute to the election of Donald Trump a decade later.
Into this realm stepped Goldstone, the now notorious, funny hat-wearing court jester who, it was revealed last week, came to act as the go-between for Trump Jr, White House adviser Jared Kushner and former campaign manager Paul Manafort, and the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and a former Soviet counterintelligence officer, first identified by the Associated Press as Rinat Akhmetshin.
Goldstone said he was representing a hotel in Belize, which was then seeking to become an ecotourist destination and had also attracted the attention of journalists as the banking headquarters of then Conservative-party chairman Lord Ashcrofts British Caribbean Bank, and whose name had then come up in connection with a UK government corruption probe in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Goldstone threw a smattering of boldface names into the mix: the director Francis Ford Coppola, who owned two hotels there, and actor Leonardo DiCaprio, who was said to own an island off the coast of Placencia. Arrangements were duly made, with Goldstone repeating to his endless self-amusement that the carrier from New York was TACA Airlines not TACO Bell airlines!
If, for some reason, the plane was late and we had to stay overnight in Belize City, there is a very funny hotel called The Princess which is cheap and enormous with a casino, floor shows and cinema. I have stayed there and it is fine for a night.
The highlight of the expedition was to swim with whale sharks in deep water at Gladden Split, an elbow in the reef where, on the full moon in April, tropical fish species fish gathered to spawn. But the hotel was only semi-completed and despite three expeditions to dive 100 feet down to blow bubbles in the hope of attracting a whale shark, none came. However, a bullshark did show up, causing instructors to send urgent signals to surface.
Goldstone was not put off. Hed lately won the account to promote Sir Ivan, an electro-pop musician who owned a 15,000 sq ft faux-medieval castle in the Hamptons, the playground of wealthy New Yorkers. Sir Ivan, aka Ivan Wilzig, son of a Hasidic New Jersey banker, was slightly known for pop-dance remakes of 1960s and early 1970s peace songs.
Sir Ivan was at the time throwing parties at the castle and had charged Goldstone with getting media coverage. The castle, says a writer who attended one event, had wall that gave way to a secret dungeon for pleasures of a private or possibly public nature.
On Friday, the New York Times described Goldstones insertion into Trumps Russia problem as Britains Gift to America: The New Sleazocracy. Writer Peter Jukes wrote that Goldstone serves as an avatar of the new power-brokers in the age of politics as entertainment. Welcome to your new ruling class. Made in Britain.
Goldstone may be perfect for the age, but to blame him is unfair. Notwithstanding the lack of whale sharks off the coast of Belize, Goldstone proved a bizarre, engaging character on what can otherwise be the dry circuit of press promotions.
Last week, a music business executive told Billboard that the Goldstone-Trump Jr story reminded of the Peter Sellers comedy Being There. The Goldstone I know is the friendliest, happiest and most comedic person; he is a really fun guy. To hear he is part of this international conspiracy thing is like a joke. Goldstone, he added, has really been miscast by the media.