Issuu on Google+

T RU M P :

The

YEAR

of

L I V I N G S H O RT - F I N G E R E D LY

G R AY D O N CARTER

By

INSIDE the KARDASHIAN PARIS HOTEL HEIST!

ALSO

The 22016

Holiday

H O L I D AY 2 0 1 6 / 2 0 1 7

GIFT GUIDE

WHAT DOES

PETER THIEL REALLY WANT? By

BIGGER!

BETTER!

D AV I D M A R G O L I C K

NO N U T C R AC K E R S!

AIRBNB 2.0 : HALFWAY TO WESTWORLD? By

MARK SEAL

By

PLUS

WHO HACKED

SSILICON VALLEY’S’ CROWN CO JEWEL? J ?

K AT R I N A B R O O K E R

By y B R YA N BURROUGH

J. Law!

Baby, B b It’s ’ Hot H Outside O d

IF THERE’S ’S O ONE PERSON SO WHO O CA CAN REDEEM 2016, IT’S THE FREEWHEELIN’ JENNIFER LAWRENCE By

“OH, MUST WE DREAM OUR D R E A M S A N D H AV E T H E M , T O O ? ” —Elizabeth Bishop

JULIE MILLER

Photographs by

The Making of A Christmas Story By

SAM KASHNER

PETER LINDBERGH

T Dark, Nasty Side The of ... Maple Syrup?! By

RICH COHEN


HOLIDAY 2016/2017 No. 677

136 Clockwise from above: Jennifer Lawrence (page 136); Hot Tracks (page 96); Airbnb co-founder and C.E.O. Brian Chesky (page 158); A Christmas Story (page 168).

144 150 156 158 162 166 168

30

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

FEATURES LAST CALL, 2016 Imagine the party of the year as Beyoncé, Huma Abedin, Ivanka Trump, and company wait for the ball to drop. Illustration by Barry Blitt. STAR WITHOUT A SCRIPT By JULIE MILLER With her Oscar-winning leap to superstardom, Jennifer Lawrence is re-inventing the Hollywood dream. Beyond an impressive slate of upcoming movies, including this month’s Passengers, she has turned her power toward personal goals. Photographs by Peter Lindbergh. INVADING APPLE By BRYAN BURROUGH With shadowy companies selling spyware to the highest bidder, the fear is that iPhones could be controlled remotely, to monitor their users. A recent Apple hack reveals how close Big Brother is getting. Photographs by Joseph Sywenkyj and Dan Winters. L’AFFAIRE KARDASHIAN By MARK SEAL When Kim Kardashian was robbed at gunpoint in a Parisian hotel last fall, the Instagram-loving, paparazzi-friendly star faced a grim reality: her glamorous life was all too easy to track. But there are other reasons Kardashian was such an easy target—and the thieves so elusive. A SHARED REALITY Spotlight on Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg, whose third movie together, Patriots Day, is about the Boston Marathon bombing. By Peter Berg. Photograph by David Bailey. AIRBNB HITS THE ROAD By KATRINA BROOKER Despite opposition in major cities, Airbnb seems unstoppable, making Brian Chesky one of the most powerful C.E.O.’s in Silicon Valley. Chesky hopes that’s just Act I, as he works to give travelers a whole new experience. Photographs by Art Streiber. STICKY BUSINESS By RICH COHEN The world’s largest producer of maple syrup, Quebec created a cartel that would regulate the market. But recently, new threats have emerged, from a major syrup heist to a thriving black market. Photograph by Jonathan Becker. GRAND MOTEL Spotlight on the Canadian comedy series Schitt’s Creek, as it kicks off its third U.S. season. By David Kamp. Photograph by Andrew Eccles. SANTA GETS HIS CLAWS By SAM KASHNER The holiday-movie genre was jolted out of its sentimental rut in 1983, when A Christmas Story showed something every family could recognize. That little sleeper film is now an American tradition. CONTINUED ON PAGE 34

H OLIDAY

2016/2 017

L AW RE NC E PH OTOG RA P HE D BY P ET E R L IN DB E RG H; DRE S S BY D I OR . CHE SK Y P HOTO GRA P HE D BY A RT STRE I BER. P HOTO GR A PH © MGM /E VE RE TT CO L LE CT I ON (A CH R ISTM AS STORY ) . F O R DE TA IL S , G O TO VF.COM / CREDI TS

134

VANIT YFAIR.COM


CON TI NUED FROM PAGE 30

93 102

108 Clockwise C Clo lockw k ise kwi ise from fr above: abo a sugar shack in Quebec (page 162); Holiday Gift Guide (page 68); the Hôtel de Pourtalès, in Paris, site of the Kardashian robbery (page 150).

115 117

42 58 62 82 106 192 34

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

HEY JUDE From Fendi to foosball, V.F.’s annual gift guide has something for everyone.

FANFAIR & FAIRGROUND 31 DAYS IN THE LIFE OF THE CULTURE Après-ski In the Spirit of Gstaad. Hot Tracks. Hot Type. According to Anna Kendrick; what to watch. AROUND THE WORLD, ONE PARTY AT A TIME V.F.’s third annual New Establishment Summit, in San Francisco, and a dinner in celebration of Frieze Masters, in London.

COLUMNS V.C. FOR VENDETTA By DAVID MARGOLICK By bankrolling Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker Media, Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel bankrupted Nick Denton’s online empire. An act of revenge, it was also a war of competing visions. Photo illustration by Sean McCabe. GILLIAN’S RAINBOW Spotlight on Gillian Anderson, who has emerged as a transatlantic treasure of stage, screen, and page. By Henry Porter. Portrait by David Downton. THE 2016 HALL OF FAME Closing out a year of apocalyptic events and political poison, V.F. nominates the brave bright spots—Simone Biles, Megyn Kelly, the Obamas, and more—in a portfolio. Plus: Remembering the legends lost. Text by James Wolcott.

ET CETERA EDITOR’S LETTER FROM 9/11 TO 11/9 CONTRIBUTORS LETTERS BAD BLOOD 60 MINUTES POLL IN THE DETAILS ISABELLA ROSSELLINI PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE DJ KHALED CONTINUED ON PAGE 39

H OLIDAY

2016/2 017

SU GA R SHACK PH OTO GRA P HE D BY J ON AT HA N BE CKE R; J ACKE T A ND CA P BY F I L S ON . PHOTOG RA P H BY M A RC PI A S E CKI /G ET T Y I MAG ES ( H Ô TE L DE P O URTA L È S) . F OR DE TA I L S, GO TO VF. CO M/ CRE DI TS

65

VANITIES


HOLIDAY 2016/2017 No. 677

VANIT YFAIR.COM

CON TI NUED FROM PAGE 34

.co

Covering Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and Washington, D.C.

Obsessing over TV, film, awards, and more

Tracking celebrity, fashion, and—why not?—royals

DE MO R EST PHOTO GR A PHE D BY KE N NE TH WI L L A R DT. PH OTO GRA P H, BOTTO M, BY J UST IN B I S HO P

Above, Jude Demorest. Below, the 2015 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

HOLIDAY 2 016 / 2 017

PRINTED IN THE U.S.A.


EDITOR’S LETTER

FROM 9/11 to 11/9

God, I love this country.

no federal taxes for nearly two decades, and who refused to release his tax returns, be put in charge of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service.

ONLY IN AMERICA could a serial bankrupt pass himself off as a successful businessman. (And almost none of those he bankrupted were even regular businesses. They were casinos—where people essentially come to lose their money.)

ONLY IN AMERICA could a man who thinks climate change is a hoax, and something invented by the Chinese, be put in charge of not only the Environmental Protection Agency but also our negotiations with other nations—at the most calamitous environmental period in the earth’s modern history.

ONLY IN AMERICA could a man who offended Hispanics, Muslims, Jews, and African-Americans, as well as women, babies, and the handicapped, become the Republican nominee for president.

ONLY IN AMERICA could a man for whom truth is an inconvenient concept feel comfortable referring to his opponent as “lying” and “crooked.” ONLY IN AMERICA, a nation built on a history of immigration, could a man who married two immigrants—one of whom is alleged to have worked illegally when she first arrived—run on an anti-immigration platform.

ONLY IN AMERICA could a man with a legendary reputation for stiffing small-business owners and wage laborers be able to pass himself off as a champion of the little guy. ONLY IN AMERICA could a man run for the presidency with one of his heralded accomplishments being the fixing of a skating rink in New York’s Central Park, a job the city had bungled for years. (It’s a feat most backyard rink rats in Canada pull off before their 13th birthday.)

ONLY IN AMERICA could a man who brags about groping and kissing women without their consent win 53 percent of the vote among white women. ONLY IN AMERICA could a man who avoided the draft—with a deferment for pesky bone spurs on his feet, which somehow did not hinder him from playing tennis—and who insulted war heroes and their families become the commander in chief of the greatest military power on earth.

ONLY IN AMERICA could a man who lashed out over the flimsiest of slights become our chief 42

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

negotiator with the Russians, the Chinese, and the North Koreans.

ONLY IN AMERICA could a man whose staff reportedly took away his Twitter account because he couldn’t control himself be given the nuclear codes. (Thank you, President Obama, for pointing out that one.) ONLY IN AMERICA could a man with a negligible record of charitable giving and not a single day’s experience in public life be raised to the highest public office in the land. ONLY IN AMERICA could a man who kept a volume of Hitler’s speeches by his bedside rule over the second-largest Jewish population in the world.

ONLY IN AMERICA could a man whose résumé of failed businesses and alleged sexual harassment is so miserable that he would have trouble finding work at a copy shop be named chief executive of the world’s largest economy.

ONLY IN AMERICA could a man who has skirted the law for more than four decades be put in charge of choosing new justices for the nation’s highest court.

ONLY IN AMERICA could a man whose foreign-affairs experience consists of negotiating deals for hotels and golf courses—and perhaps arranging for investments by Russians—become the most powerful man on the planet. (And at a very perilous time.) ONLY IN AMERICA could a man who has likely paid

ONLY IN AMERICA could a man who surrounded himself with political second-raters like Rudolph Giuliani and Chris Christie be put in charge of forming the team to run the next U.S. government.

ONLY IN AMERICA could a man who earned the contempt of his Republican rivals for being a con man and a fraud—and who implicated the father of one of his rivals in John F. Kennedy’s assassination—ultimately reap the support of those very same rivals. ONLY IN AMERICA could a man who threatened to throw his opponent in jail and to sue the women who have accused him of sexual harassment, who denigrated the judge who will preside over the trial of his bogus university (because the judge is of Mexican heritage), and who has 75 outstanding lawsuits (including two for fraud) be put in charge of the Justice Department. ONLY IN AMERICA could a man who does not understand the separation of powers, and who has advocated for the use of torture regardless of national and international law, be thought prepared to swear an oath to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

ONLY IN AMERICA could a man whose primary national exposure was appearing on a reality-TV show become the reality that so much of the world feared. Do not tell me America is no longer a land of —GRAYDON CARTER opportunity. H OLIDAY

2016/2017

ANNI E LE I BOVI TZ

“Only in America / Land of opportunity” —Jay & the Americans


®

Editor GRAYDON CARTER Managing Editor CHRIS GARRETT Design Director CHRIS DIXON Executive Editor DOUGLAS STUMPF Features Editor JANE SARKIN Creative Director (Fashion and Style) JESSICA DIEHL Photography Director SUSAN WHITE Deputy Editors AIMÉE BELL, DANA BROWN, MARK ROZZO, STEPHANIE MEHTA Associate Managing Editor ELLEN KIELL Legal Affairs Editor ROBERT WALSH Director of Special Projects SARA MARKS Copy Editor PETER DEVINE Research Director JOHN BANTA Beauty Director SUNHEE GRINNELL Executive West Coast Editor KRISTA SMITH Art Director HILARY FITZGIBBONS Photography Research Director JEANNIE RHODES Deputy Art Director TONYA DOURAGHY Deputy Director of Special Projects MATT ULLIAN Fashion Market Director MICHAEL CARL Associate Legal Affairs Editor AUSTIN MERRILL Associate Copy Editor DAVID FENNER Production Director PAT CRAVEN Research Editors MARY FLYNN, DAVID GENDELMAN Assistant Editors CAT BUCKLEY, LOUISA STRAUSS Deputy Research Editor ALISON FORBES Reporter-Researchers BRENDAN BARR, SIMON BRENNAN, SUE CARSWELL, BEN KALIN, WALTER OWEN, MICHAEL SACKS Assistant Copy Editor ADAM NADLER Associate Art Director KAITLYN PEPE Editorial Finance Manager GEOFF COLLINS Editorial Business Manager DAN GILMORE Senior Photography Producer KATHRYN MACLEOD Senior Photography Research Editors ANN SCHNEIDER, KATHERINE BANG Accessories Director DAISY SHAW-ELLIS Photography Editors CATE STURGESS, RACHEL DELOACHE WILLIAMS Senior Designer ELLEN PETERSON Special Projects Manager ARI BERGEN Art Production Director CHRISTOPHER GEORGE Copy and U.K. Production Director CARLA ZANDONELLA Copy Production Manager ANDERSON TEPPER Executive Assistant to the Editor NATHAN KING Assistant to the Editor DAN ADLER Assistant to the Managing Editor DANA LESHEM Fashion Editor RYAN YOUNG Market Editor ISABELLA BEHRENS Menswear Market Editor CHRISTOPHER LEGASPI Fashion Associate KELLI ORIHUELA Features Associates BRITT HENNEMUTH, MAXWELL LOSGAR Editorial Business Associate CAMILLE ZUMWALT COPPOLA Editorial Associates MARY ALICE MILLER, LEORA YASHARI, MARLEY BROWN, BEN ABRAMOWITZ ´ KA Beauty Assistant NORA MALONEY Editorial Assistants ISABEL ASHTON, JULIA VITALE Research Assistant ELLA BAN Editor-at-Large CULLEN MURPHY Special Correspondents BOB COLACELLO, MAUREEN ORTH, BRYAN BURROUGH, AMY FINE COLLINS, NICK BILTON, SARAH ELLISON, WILLIAM D. COHAN Writers-at-Large MARIE BRENNER, JAMES REGINATO Style Editor–at–Large MICHAEL ROBERTS International Correspondent WILLIAM LANGEWIESCHE London Editor HENRY PORTER Paris Editor VÉRONIQUE PLAZOLLES European Editor–at–Large JEMIMA KHAN Editor (Los Angeles) WENDY STARK MORRISSEY Our Man in Kabul TOM FRESTON Our Man in Saigon BRIAN MCNALLY Our Man on the Street DEREK BLASBERG Architecture Consultant BASIL WALTER Editorial Consultant JIM KELLY Senior Editorial Adviser WAYNE LAWSON Editor, Creative Development DAVID FRIEND

vanityfair.com Director MICHAEL HOGAN Editor MATTHEW LYNCH Editor, The Hive JON KELLY Deputy Editor KATEY RICH Projects Editor KELLY BUTLER Senior Photography Editor CHIARA MARINAI Executive Video Producer ERIC LEFFLER Social Media Editor JEFFREY TOUSEY Hollywood Editor HILLARY BUSIS News Editor BENJAMIN LANDY Vanities Editor LAUREN LE VINE Story Editor KIA MAKARECHI Line Editor STEPHANIE HORST Staff Photographer JUSTIN BISHOP Film Critic RICHARD LAWSON Senior Staff Writers JOSH DUBOFF, JULIE MILLER, JOANNA ROBINSON Staff Writers LAURA BRADLEY, KENZIE BRYANT, YOHANA DESTA, EMILY JANE FOX, ERIKA HARWOOD, MAYA KOSOFF, TINA NGUYEN, ABIGAIL TRACY, HILARY WEAVER Senior Producer ALYSSA KARAS Associate Line Editors AMIRAH MERCER, CYNTHIA PULEO Associate Producer JARONDAKIE PATRICK Editorial Associate ELISE TAYLOR Photo Associates BENJAMIN PARK, LAUREN JONES Social Media Associates CHRISTINE DAVITT, MOLLY MCGLEW Development: Engineering Manager MATTHEW HUDSON Product Director ZAC FRANK Senior Manager, Analytics KRISTINNE GUMBAYAN Software Engineers EDDY ESPINAL, TYLER CHADWICK Front-End Engineer RAFAEL FREANER

Contributing Editors HENRY ALFORD, KURT ANDERSEN, SUZANNA ANDREWS, LILI ANOLIK, ROBERT SAM ANSON, JUDY BACHRACH, CARL BERNSTEIN, PETER BISKIND, BUZZ BISSINGER, HOWARD BLUM, PATRICIA BOSWORTH, MARK BOWDEN, DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, ALICE BRUDENELL-BRUCE, MICHAEL CALLAHAN, MARINA CICOGNA, EDWIN JOHN COASTER, RICH COHEN, JOHN CONNOLLY, SLOANE CROSLEY, STEVEN DALY, BEATRICE MONTI DELLA CORTE, JANINE DI GIOVANNI, KURT EICHENWALD, LISA EISNER, BRUCE FEIRSTEIN, STEVE GARBARINO, A. A. GILL, PAUL GOLDBERGER, VANESSA GRIGORIADIS, MICHAEL JOSEPH GROSS, LOUISE GRUNWALD, BRUCE HANDY, DAVID HARRIS, JOHN HEILPERN, REINALDO HERRERA, CAROL BLUE HITCHENS, A. M. HOMES, LAURA JACOBS, SEBASTIAN JUNGER, DAVID KAMP, SAM KASHNER, MICHAEL KINSLEY, FRAN LEBOWITZ, ADAM LEFF, DANY LEVY, MONICA LEWINSKY, MICHAEL LEWIS, DAVID MARGOLICK, VICTORIA MATHER (TRAVEL), BRUCE MCCALL, BETHANY MCLEAN, PATRICK MCMULLAN, ANNE MCNALLY, PIPPA MIDDLETON, SETH MNOOKIN, NINA MUNK, ELISE O’SHAUGHNESSY, EVGENIA PERETZ, JEAN PIGOZZI, WILLIAM PROCHNAU, TODD S. PURDUM, JOHN RICHARDSON, LISA ROBINSON, DAVID ROSE, RICHARD RUSHFIELD, NANCY JO SALES, ELISSA SCHAPPELL, MARK SEAL, GAIL SHEEHY, MICHAEL SHNAYERSON, SALLY BEDELL SMITH, JAMES B. STEELE, MATT TYRNAUER, CRAIG UNGER, DIANE VON FURSTENBERG, ELIZABETH SALTZMAN WALKER, BENJAMIN WALLACE, HEATHER WATTS, JIM WINDOLF, JAMES WOLCOTT, EVAN WRIGHT, NED ZEMAN In Memoriam INGRID SISCHY (1952–2015), FREDERIC MORTON (1924–2015), CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS (1949–2011), TIM HETHERINGTON (1970–2011), DOMINICK DUNNE (1925–2009), DAVID HALBERSTAM (1934–2007), MARJORIE WILLIAMS (1958–2005), HELMUT NEWTON (1920–2004), HERB RITTS (1952–2002)

Contributing Photographers ANNIE LEIBOVITZ BRUCE WEBER, JONATHAN BECKER, MARK SELIGER, PATRICK DEMARCHELIER, LARRY FINK, TIMOTHY GREENFIELD-SANDERS, SAM JONES, JONAS FREDWALL KARLSSON, NORMAN JEAN ROY, SNOWDON, MARIO TESTINO, GASPER TRINGALE Contributing Artists HILARY KNIGHT, ROBERT RISKO, TIM SHEAFFER, EDWARD SOREL, STEPHEN DOYLE

I LL UST RATI ON S BY M A RK MATCHO

Contributors Senior Photography Producer RON BEINNER Special Projects Art Director ANGELA PANICHI Digital Production Manager H. SCOTT JOLLEY Associate Digital Production Manager SUSAN M. RASCO Production Manager BETH BARTHOLOMEW Associate Editor S. P. NIX Photo Associate JAMES EMMERMAN Accessories Associate ALEXIS KANTER Art Associate SUSAN WIDDICOMBE Photography Production Assistant KALINA KRABEL Photo Assistant EMILY LIPSON Stylist DEBORAH AFSHANI Video Associate ALYSSA MARINO

Communications Executive Director of Communications BETH KSENIAK Deputy Director of Communications LIZZIE WOLFF Associate Director of Communications/Contributing Style Editor, VF.com RACHEL TASHJIAN Communications Assistant OLIVIA AYLMER HOL I DAY 2 016 / 2 017

www.vanityfair.com

VAN IT Y

FAIR

45


®

Publisher, Chief Revenue Officer CHRIS MITCHELL Associate Publisher ALICE MCKOWN Associate Publisher, Marketing JENIFER BERMAN Associate Publisher, Luxury AMBER ESTABROOK POGGI Executive Director of Brand Development SARAH KREFTING MURPHY Executive Advertising Director JENNY GLASSBERG Director of Finance and Business Operations MARC LEYER Executive Director, Retail and Fashion EMILY DAVIS Advertising Director, Luxury Partnerships GINA GERVINO Executive Director, Beauty CONNIE LIVSEY Advertising Director, Integrated Programs JAIME AVERSA Business Director MARTINA NAVRATIL Director, Digital Planning and Operations EMILY O’BRIEN Manager, Digital Sales Development PRESTON WATKINS Digital Sales Planner NICOLE LOMBARDO Digital Campaign Managers TIMOTHY HARRISON, ABBY WALLMAN Detroit Director KELLIE A. MACALOON 248-458-3100 Midwest Executive Director SARAH JARVIS 312-649-5756 Los Angeles Executive Director CHRISSY ELMORE MILES 323-965-2891 Northwest Director JULIA SMITH 415-955-8244 Milan Director ELENA DE GIULI 39-02-6558-4223 Paris and London SELIM MATARACI 33-1-44-78-00-62 Southeast PETER ZUCKERMAN, Z-MEDIA 305-532-5566 Executive Director, VF Studios BENJAMIN MILLIGAN Creative Director YOUNG KIM Custom Content Director LAURA MITCHELL Special Projects Director MELISSA MEYER Director, Integrated Digital Development JAMES OATES Art Director RON FERRAZ Director SHARI SOBINE Associate Directors DANA CASEY, ABIGAIL ARONOFSKY, TYLER REX WATSON, NICOLE SPAGNOLA, SASHA RODRIGUEZ Senior Special Projects Manager SAMUEL DUMAS Manager OLIVIA PITTEWAY Talent and Entertainment Partnerships EMILY POENISCH Director of Research and Insights SONA ALBOYACIAN Marketing Coordinator ABIGAIL GOETHALS Executive Assistant to the Publisher KATHLEEN MALONEY Fashion Coordinator EMILY DOYLE Advertising Assistants EMILY BURNISTON, EMILY WORDSMAN, REGAN SENG, TAYLOR MCKENNA (Detroit), EMMA THOMPSON (Chicago), KATHERINE ANAS (Los Angeles), ZUIE BILLINGS (San Francisco), MARIATINA CORRADO (Milan)

PUBLISHED BY CONDÉ NAST Chairman Emeritus S. I. NEWHOUSE, JR. Chairman CHARLES H. TOWNSEND President and Chief Executive Officer ROBERT A. SAUERBERG, JR. Chief Financial Officer DAVID E. GEITHNER Chief Business Officer and President of Revenue, Condé Nast JAMES M. NORTON Executive Vice President–Chief Digital Officer FRED SANTARPIA Chief Human Resources Officer JOANN MURRAY Chief Communications Officer CAMERON R. BLANCHARD Chief Technology Officer EDWARD CUDAHY Executive Vice President–Consumer Marketing MONICA RAY Senior Vice President–Business Operations DAVID ORLIN Senior Vice President–Managing Director–23 Stories JOSH STINCHCOMB Senior Vice President–Network Sales and Partnerships, Condé Nast, and Chief Revenue Officer, CNÉ LISA VALENTINO Senior Vice President–Financial Planning and Analysis SUZANNE REINHARDT Senior Vice President–Strategy–23 Stories PADRAIG CONNOLLY Senior Vice President–Ad Products and Monetization DAVID ADAMS Senior Vice President–Licensing CATHY HOFFMAN GLOSSER Senior Vice President–Research and Analytics STEPHANIE FRIED Senior Vice President–Digital Operations LARRY BAACH Senior Vice President–Human Resources NICOLE ZUSSMAN General Manager–Digital MATTHEW STARKER

CONDÉ NAST INTERNATIONAL Chairman and Chief Executive JONATHAN NEWHOUSE President NICHOLAS COLERIDGE Artistic Director ANNA WINTOUR Condé Nast is a global media company producing premium content for more than 263 million consumers in 30 markets. www.condenast.com

www.condenastinternational.com

Subscription inquiries: Please go to vf.com/subscribe or write to Vanity Fair, P.O. Box 37714, Boone, IA 50037-0714, or call 800-365-0635. For permissions and reprint requests, please call 212-630-5634 or fax requests to 212-630-5883.

56

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

H OLIDAY

2016/2017

I LL UST RATI ON S BY M A RK MATCHO

CONDÉ NAST ENTERTAINMENT President DAWN OSTROFF Executive Vice President and General Manager–Digital Video JOY MARCUS Executive Vice President–Chief Operating Officer SAHAR ELHABASHI Executive Vice President–Motion Pictures JEREMY STECKLER Executive Vice President–Alternative TV JOE LABRACIO Executive Vice President–CNÉ Studios AL EDGINGTON Senior Vice President–Marketing and Partner Management TEAL NEWLAND


CONTRIBUTORS

BARRY BLITT

For “Last Call, 2016,” on page 134, famed New Yorker and New York Times illustrator Barry Blitt created the likenesses of 36 of 2016’s most public personalities and assembled them at a grand get-together, where their interactions reveal their signature characteristics. Aside from the more dignified attendees, Blitt says, “Most of the participants are equally repugnant,” adding, “I naïvely hoped this might be the last time I’d have to draw Donald Trump.”

PETER BERG

Friday Night Lights director Peter Berg (left) illuminates what unites him and Mark Wahlberg, star of Berg’s new film about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, Patriots Day, in “A Shared Reality,” on page 156. “We pursue the themes of brotherhood built on the most extraordinary aspects of humanity and adversity,” says Berg. “We find stories worth telling and do everything in our power to tell them.”

RICH COHEN

For “Sticky Business,” on page 162, Contributing Editor Rich Cohen traveled to the holy land of maple syrup, in Quebec, where a Canadian cartel controls the majority of the world’s supply and proudly negotiates high prices for it. “They believe in what they’re doing,” says Cohen. “They’ve figured out how to control the greatest product in the world. Before they started, nobody could earn a living making syrup—now everybody’s getting rich because of it.”

JULIE MILLER

PETER LINDBERGH

On an extravagant movie set, celebrating Jennifer Lawrence’s skyrocketing career, photographer Peter Lindbergh captured the actress and Hollywood feminist icon for “Star Without a Script,” on page 136. A pioneer of realist photography, Lindbergh is a perfect match for Lawrence, who has earned exceptional appeal by maintaining a natural, down-to-earth persona. On top of that, says Lindbergh, “Jennifer kept up an excellent spirit while soaking wet for a few hours. I’d call that quite unique.” CON TI NUED ON PAGE 61

58

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

H OLIDAY

2016/2017

PH OTO GRA P HS : F RO M TO P, CO URT ESY O F B A R RY B L IT T, BY KA R E N BA L L A R D, PA S CA L PE R ICH, J USTI N B I SH OP, STE P HE N KID D

In “Star Without a Script,” this month’s cover story, on page 136, Julie Miller profiles Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence, star of the upcoming science-fiction romance Passengers. Lawrence was reportedly paid $20 million for the movie—a career milestone that is offset by the unprecedented perils of modern movie stardom. “At 26, Jen has come of age as a megawatt movie star in an era of boundless social media,” says Miller. “Everyone needs them, but for a movie star in 2016, boundaries are a means of survival.”


CONTRIBUTORS CON TI NUED FROM PAGE 58

DAVID MARGOLICK

In “V.C. for Vendetta,” on page 108, Contributing Editor David Margolick investigates the dispute between Gawker Media founder Nick Denton and venture capitalist Peter Thiel, who bankrupted the company by underwriting Hulk Hogan’s $140 million lawsuit against it. “Whether or not the ruling’s upheld, even billionaires can’t throttle very many journalists for very long,” Margolick says. “Gawker may be dead, but Gawkerism will continue to reappear in many other forms.”

DAVID BAILEY

For “A Shared Reality,” on page 156, British photographer David Bailey— winner of the 2016 Infinity Award for Lifetime Achievement—delighted in getting to know Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg. “They were two straight-up guys,” says Bailey, adding, “When I saw Wahlberg’s biceps, I wanted him on my side.” A book of Bailey’s work on the primitive Naga people of India and Burma, Bailey’s Naga Hills, will be published by Steidl in the spring.

PH OTO GRA P HS : F RO M TO P, BY L AW RE N CE S CH IL L E R/ LJ S COM M UNI CAT I O NS, L .L .C ./ GE TT Y I M AGE S; © DAVI D B A I L EY; BY MI CHA E L MUR PH RE E ; HE NRY DI LTZ

KATRINA BROOKER

Journalist Katrina Brooker has profiled members of the Silicon Valley elite since the dot-com bubble burst, and she delights especially in tech personalities who surprise her. Brian Chesky, co-founder of Airbnb, has followed the triumphs and downfalls of business leaders for nearly as long. His belief that innovation precludes failure courses through Brooker’s profile, “Airbnb Hits the Road,” on page 158. Says Brooker, “While we’re worrying about what’s happening today, Chesky’s watching the horizon.”

SAM KASHNER

Contributing Editor Sam Kashner caught up with Peter Billingsley and other cast members from the classic 1983 film A Christmas Story for “Santa Gets His Claws,” on page 168. “It’s hard to top any truly great performance, and Peter’s performance, as Ralphie, is as good as any of Shirley Temple’s,” says Kashner. “Child actors often create indelible portraits of themselves as children, and I think the actors from A Christmas Story have come to a cold peace with the fact that what they made is a small masterpiece.”

HOL I DAY 2 016 / 2 017


LETTERS

BAD BLOOD

A biotech villain in Silicon Valley; an old sex scandal gets a new twist; a presidential exit interview for the ages with her hand pressed to her forehead in distress, I immediately recognized the woman! It was film star Mary Astor, John Barrymore’s love in the film Don Juan, Humphrey Bogart’s mysterious lady in The Maltese Falcon, Judy Garland’s mother in Meet Me in St. Louis. My conjecture was confirmed when I read that the article was an adaptation from Edward Sorel’s book Mary Astor’s Purple Diary. In the drawing of Mr. Kaufman’s intimate moment with Mary, he is also instantly recognizable. His likeness rises far above mere caricature, as does that UNTESTED of Miss Astor. Both as an artist Theranos founder and and writer, Mr. Sorel is a very talC.E.O. Elizabeth ented, clever man. I look forward Holmes in to reading his book. 2015.

SAM-STEVEN SIPORIN Palm Springs, California

I

just read Nick Bilton’s “The Talented Ms. Holmes” [October], and I want to compliment him on a great piece. This article hit me as containing the most accurate depiction of Theranos’s culture. The company hired me in 2012 as a formulations chemist, and I was on board for about one year before I left. I worked with chief scientist Ian Gibbons and was quite troubled when he never returned to work. My heart goes out to his family. Thank you, Nick, for properly uncovering the disgusting culture of this company and its founder, Elizabeth Holmes. NIC BLAIR Denver, Colorado

I

was absolutely spellbound by Nick Bilton’s article. I remember wistfully thinking how nice it would be to create a $9 billion enterprise that hoped to change the world. Bilton deserves a Pulitzer Prize for his incredible piece of journalism.

nies that made similar claims (a pinprick of blood determining health and risks of certain diseases) and could not successfully interest enough high-level media. I decided to go no further when an Associated Press reporter told me she would look only at information backed by published peer-reviewed-journal studies. Reading that Holmes had no studies to substantiate her claims should have immediately raised red flags. SHIRA HIRSCHMAN WEISS Teaneck, New Jersey

I

enjoyed the Mary Astor trial story, but I remember one salient detail that was the most interesting part and indeed was the last comment on the matter. When George Kaufman was finally cornered by reporters after the trial was over and asked for a comment, his witty reply was “I do NOT keep a diary.” DARYL MOAD Winnipeg, Manitoba

THE VIEW FROM THE OVAL

I

JAMES E. HADDOW

want to express my supreme thanks for Doris Kearns Goodwin’s interview with President Obama. I feel sorry that the next POTUS will not be of the same caliber. I have perused a few of Ms. Goodwin’s books. My husband and I really like her stories about her love of baseball and the Brooklyn Dodgers. (Yogi says Jackie was out. I believe Yogi.) Thank you, too, Annie Leibovitz, for your usual wonderful photos.

Windham, Maine

KATHLEEN ANDREWS

N

ick Bilton’s account of a techcompany concept built on marshmallow brings to mind the dream sequence in Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses in which the mystical and charismatic Ayesha leads a group of followers on a lengthy foot pilgrimage that ends disastrously in the Arabian Sea.

London, Ontario

WILLIAM M. OWEN

W

hile I feel bad for Elizabeth Holmes because I want a smart, industrious young woman to succeed, I am extremely surprised her company made it as far as it did. Years ago, I tried to consult in P.R. for nutrigenomics compa-

62

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

AFFAIR OF THE CENTURY

K

udos to artist Edward Sorel for his droll and masterly illustrated story “The Ecstasy & the Agony” (October). When I saw his delightful drawing of a nude lady reclining on her chaise longue

Letters to the editor should be sent electronically with the writer’s name, address, and daytime phone number to letters@vf.com. All requests for back issues should be sent to subscriptions@vf.com. All other queries should be sent to vfmail@vf.com. The magazine reserves the right to edit submissions, which may be published or otherwise used in any medium. All submissions become the property of Vanity Fair. H OLIDAY

2016/2017

J E NN Y HUE STO N

Deerfield, Illinois


A l l I s VA N I T I E S . . . N o t h i n g I s F a i r

HOLIDAY

{

THIS

MONTH

Gifts! Gifts! s! G Gifts! ifts! p. 68

p. 70

p. 72

2016/2017

Gifts! G ifts! G Gifts! Gifts! p. 75

p . 7 6 

p . 7 7 

&

more

Gifts! p . 8 0 

{

VANITIES D E MOR E ST W EAR S A D R E S S BY G U CC I ; E A R R IN G S BY H AR RY WIN STON ; R I N G BY B UL G AR I .

ST Y LE D BY RYA N YO UNG; HA I R BY N ICO L A S E LD IN ; M A KE UP BY VI CKY ST E CKE L ; MA N I CUR E BY M A R Y S OUL ; F OR DE TA I LS , GO TO V F.CO M/C RE DI TS

@vf.com To go BEHIND THE SCENES of Jude Demorest’s Vanities photo shoot, visit VF.COM/HOLIDAY 2016/2017.

JUDE DEMOREST

AGE: 24. HOMETOWN: Detroit, Michigan. A REVELATION: “I grew up in church, seven days a week. The service was very music-driven, so the pastor created a performing-arts school down the street. There was drama, dance, and choir rehearsal—it was my training.” WESTERN UNION: At 16, Demorest followed her passions to Los Angeles. After trying everything from backup dancing to singing, she signed with Epic Records under the iconic producer L. A. Reid. “I learned about the whole music industry from him.” CHART TOPPER: Demorest ended up co-writing the hit single “Work from Home,” which Reid acquired for Fifth Harmony. “I write whenever I’m not on set.” A NEW EMPIRE: This summer, writer, director, and executive producer Lee Daniels held a nationwide search for Fox’s girl-group series, Star (debuting next month). “It was 10 auditions and Lee was part of every one.” ROLE MODELS: After nabbing the show’s eponymous title role, Demorest is keeping company with her co-stars, who include Queen Latifah, Lenny Kravitz, and Naomi Campbell. “I watch and learn what may have taken years if this hadn’t been my first project.” REALITY TV: “Girls who look like Star aren’t represented on television. It’s an honor to be a part of Lee’s bravery and the very real stories he wants to tell.” — KRISTA SMITH

HOL I DAY 2 016 / 2 017

PHOTOGRAPH BY

KENNETH WILLARDT

www.vanityfair.com

VAN IT Y

FAIR

65


Hermès pen, $1,380. (Hermès stores nationwide)

VANITIES

Gucci bag, $3,500. (gucci.com)

Gift Guide WOMEN

David Yurman Smooth bracelet, $8,500. (davidyurman.com)

Larkspur & Hawk earrings, $1,400. (larkspurandhawk.com)

Mizuki cuff, $3,990. (Bergdorf Goodman) Fendi Mink Fur and Metal ABClick Charms, $350 each. (fendi.com) Apple Watch, $1,249. (apple.com) The Cambridge Satchel Company bag, $130. (cambridgesatchel.com)

Cartier Drive de Cartier small-watch, $8,750. (cartier.com)

Hermès scarf, $740. (Hermès stores nationwide)

Tom Ford pendant, $590. (tomford.com)

Barneys New York Venetian slipper, $250. (barneys.com)

Max Mara Atelier coat, $3,190. (us.maxmara.com)

Mansur Gavriel Sun bag, $1,295. (mansurgavriel .com)

Valextra pouch, $345. (valextra.com)

Céline Tri-Fold bag, $3,100. (celine.com)

Tommy Hilfiger bracelet, $100. (uk.tommy.com)

Boucheron Quatre Clou de Paris bracelet in yellow gold, $6,850. (us.boucheron.com)

Charvet scarf, $285. (Charvet boutique, Paris)

68

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

H OLIDAY

2016/2017

PH OTO GRA P H BY TI M HO UT ( GUCCI B AG ); F O R DE TA I LS , GO TO V F.CO M /CR E DI TS

Richard Ginori candle, $195. (gumps.com)


VANITIES Kaymet tray, $148. (barneys.com)

Gift Guide WOMEN

Sermoneta classic gloves, $99. (sermonetagloves.com)

Cartier ring, $6,400. (Cartier boutiques nationwide)

Kate Spade note-card set, $25. (katespade.com)

Olivia von Halle robe, $975. (net-a-porter.com)

Balenciaga Bistro clutch, $1,645. (Neiman Marcus, Dallas)

Twelve Home Azure scarf, $295. (info@twelvehome design.com)

Cole Haan Hamilton Grand Oxford shoes, $280. (colehaan.com)

Van Cleef & Arpels brooch, price upon request. (vancleefarpels.com)

Proenza Schouler Curl clutch, $850. (proenzaschouler.com)

The Row clutch, $1,590. (net-a-porter .com)

Araks pajama top, $340; bottom, $255. (araks.com)

Chloé sweater, $1,995. (net-a-porter.com) Verdura clock, $1,350. (verdura.com)

Jennifer Fisher ring, $265. (jenniferfisherjewelry.com)

Salvatore Ferragamo minaudière, $1,990. (Salvatore Ferragamo boutiques nationwide)

Delfina Delettrez ring, $2,430. (Delfina Delettrez boutique, London)

Stuart Weitzman shoe, $398. (net-a-porter.com) Loewe coin purse, $380. (loewe.com)

70

H OLIDAY

2016/2017

PHOTO GRAPHS BY TI M HO UT (ARAKS PAJAMA TO P, S E R MO N E TA GL OVE S ), JO HN MAN N O (T WELVE HO ME AZURE SC ARF); FO R DETAI L S , GO TO VF.CO M/ CR E DI TS

Louis Vuitton Zippy coin purse, $440. (louisvuitton.com)


VANITIES

WaterRower Classic rowing machine, $1,495. (waterrower.com)

Gift Guide MEN

Coach 1941 shirt, $195. (coach.com)

Gucci tie, $200. (gucci.com)

Baccarat Harmonie decanter, $1,315, and tumblers, $270, for a set of two. (us.baccarat.com)

Best Made Co. Monochrome Belgian dart set, $128. (bestmadeco.com)

The Savoy Cocktail Book, $18. (shopatthesavoy.com)

Ermenegildo Zegna gloves, $495. (zegna.com)

Salvatore Ferragamo coat, $3,450. (Salvatore Ferragamo boutiques nationwide)

Bottega Veneta desert boots, $820. (bottega veneta.com) Mark and Graham travel shoehorn, $49. (markandgraham.com)

Cartier cuff links, $3,200. (cartier.com)

Valextra messenger bag, $1,780. (valextra.com)

Google Cardboard VR viewer, $15. (store.google.com)

Loro Piana James Drap robe, $3,650. (loropiana.com)

Begg & Co. Orkney Cary scarf, $450. (beggandcompany.com) Paravel duffel bag, $345. (tourparavel.com)

PH OTO GRA P HS BY T IM H OUT ( COACH 19 41 S HI RT, G UCCI T IE , SA LVATO R E F E RR AGA MO COAT ) ; FO R DE TA I LS , G O TO VF. CO M/ CR E DITS

Balenciaga hoodie, $695. (mrporter.com)

Anderson & Sheppard pocket-squares, $67 each. (shop.andersonsheppard.co.uk)

72

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

H OLIDAY

2016/2017


Moncler Asperge jacket, $1,815. (moncler.com)

VANITIES Gift Guide

J. Crew Chup for J. Crew socks, $36. (jcrew.com)

Jack Spade travel kit, $148. (jackspade.com)

MEN

Le Corbusier & Pierre Jeanneret: Chandigarh, India, $190. (theline.com)

A. Testoni slippers, $325. (nordstrom.com) MoMA Design Store Foosball table, $800. (momastore.org)

Tiffany & Co. watch, $12,000. (tiffany.com)

Turnbull & Asser handkerchief, $95. (turnbullandasser.com) Anderson & Sheppard jacket, $2,130. (shop. andersonsheppard.co.uk)

Meisterstuck Ultra Black LeGrand fountain pen, $870. (Montblanc boutiques nationwide)

Tod’s sweater, $875. (Tod’s boutiques nationwide)

PH OTO GRA P HS BY T IM H OUT ( A NDE R SO N & S HE PPA R D J ACKE T, T UR NB UL L & A S SE R HA N DKE RCH IE F ) ; FO R DE TA I LS , GO TO V F.CO M /CR E DI TS

BeatsX wireless earphones, $150. (apple .com)

Louis Vuitton Pochette Jour GM, $740. (louisvuitton.com)

FPM Bank Trunk on Wheels, $1,395. (info@fpm.it)

Prada belt, $480. (prada.com)

Isaia 7 Fold tie, $225. (isaia.it)

Shinola Runwell bicycle, $2,950. (shinola.com)

Polo Ralph Lauren Tuxedo Bear sweater, $395. (ralphlauren.com)

75


VANITIES Gift Guide THINGS

Khavyar caviar, varieties from $12 to $150 per oz. (khavyar.com)

Hugo Guinness Cut Flowers (unframed), $410. (johnderian.com)

Midipy log holder, $643. (artedona.com)

Smythson Bee correspondence card, $45 for a set of 10. (smythson.com)

Fornasetti Sardine Rosso diffusing sphere, $525. (net-a-porter.com)

TechnoGym Wellness Rack, $950. (technogym .com)

Pendulux Robot clock, $299. (pendulux.com)

VANITIES

PHOTO GRAPHS BY TI M HO UT (AS KI N O S I E CHO CO L ATE MALT B AL L S ), JO HN MA N N O (HUGO GUI NNE S S CUT FLOWE R S ); F O R DE TAI L S , GO TO VF.CO M/ CR E DI TS

Hermès Carnets D’Equateur teapot, $970, and cup-and-saucer sets, $315 and $330. (Hermès stores nationwide)

Cedes Milano caviar bowl, $950, and spoon, $90. (barneys.com)

Anya Hindmarch Bespoke Dunstone seating chart, $675. (646-852-6233)

D. Porthault bib, $85. (dporthaultparis.com)

Tesla Model S for Kids, $499. (tesla .radioflyer.com)

Gift Guide KIDS

J. Crew Max the Monster bag, $50. (jcrew.com) Hansa Toys giraffe, $1,260. (modaoperandi .com)

Jennifer Fisher necklace, $650. (jenniferfisher jewelry.com)

Little People, Big Dreams: Amelia Earhart, $15. (amazon.com)

76

VANIT Y FAIR

P HOTO GR A PH BY TI M HO UT ( J E NN I FE R F I SH ER N ECKL AC E) ; F O R DETA I L S, GO TO V F.COM /C RE DI TS

Stella McCartney Kids sunglasses, $135. (stellamccartney.com)

Tokyobike Little Tokyobike, $295. (tokyobikenyc.com)

H OLIDAY

2016/2017


Askinosie Chocolate malt balls, $15. (askinosie.com) Waterford Lismore Essence champagne saucer, set of 4, $350. (waterford.com)

DJI Osmo stabilized camera for smartphones, $569. (dji.com)

Hunting Season Horn table lighter, $395. (hunting-season.com)

Yastik by Rifat Ă–zbek Ikat pillow, $230. (yastikbyrifatozbek.com) Georg Jensen Torun letter opener, $255. (georgjensen.com)

Tangram Smart Rope, $80. (apple.com) Marshall Headphones Woburn speakers, $549. (marshallheadphones.com)

The Impossible Collection of Design, $845. (assouline.com)

The Conran Shop croquet set, $360. (conranshop.co.uk)

Aspinal of London poker set, $695. (aspinaloflondon.com)

Juniper Books Nancy Drew set, $90. (juniperbooks.com)

Dior Baby bag, $2,100. (800-929-DIOR)

Alpha Industries Youth NASA MA-1 jacket, $85. (alphaindustries .com) Coach Rexy puzzle, $395. (coach.com)

Yikes Twins dog slippers, $28. (barneys.com)

Bonpoint Diva dress, $325. (bonpoint.com)

Burberry Heritage trench coat, $850. (us.burberry.com)

Loog electric guitar, $199. (loog.nyc)

MoMA Design Store kite, $40. (momastore.org)

Tommy Hilfiger scarf, $40. (tommyhilfiger.com)

HO L I DAY 2 016 / 2 017

State Bags Mini Kane backpack, $45. (statebags.com)

77


VANITIES

Be merry and look bright …

Gift Guide BEAUTY

2

3

7

4

1

5

11

10

6

12

8

9

13 16 15 18

17 14

21 19

22

1. EB Florals Rooster with Flock of Coqs Chestnut & Lemon Flower fragrance, $3,900. (Bergdorf Goodman) 2. Louis Vuitton Fragrance Case, $5,450. (louisvuitton.com) 3. Cire Trudon Louis XIV candle, $190. (ciretrudon.com) 4. Guerlain Néroli Outrenoir, $260. (saksfifthavenue.com) 5. Annick Goutal Tenue de Soirée, $190. (us.annickgoutal.com) 6. Rag & Bone Amber eau de parfum, $140. (rag-bone.com) 7. Byredo Belle de Tanger eau de parfum, $230. (neimanmarcus.com) 8. Fleur Cashmere candle, $45. (fleurcollection.com) 9. Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady Hair & Body Oil, $190. (fredericmalle.com) 10. Bond No. 9 SoHo fragrance, $335. (bondno9.com) 11. Estée Lauder Re-Nutriv Ultimate Lift Regenerating Youth Creme and Re-Nutriv Ultimate Lift Regenerating Youth Serum, $295 each. (esteelauder.com) 12. YSL Rouge Pur Couture Star Clash Edition, $37. (yslbeautyus.com) 13. Jo Malone London Orange Bitters Deluxe candle, $205. (jomalone.com) 14. Maison Francis Kurkdjian Grand Soir, $215. (neimanmarcus.com) 15. Aedes de Venustas Grenadille d’Afrique eau de parfum, $245. (aedes.com) 16. Dior Diorific Matte Fluid Velvet Colour Lip & Cheek in 004 Luxury, $38. (dior.com) 17. YSL Sparkle Clash Palette Holiday 2016, $95. (yslbeautyus.com) 18. Chanel Les Exclusifs de Chanel Boy, $185. (chanel.com) 19. Altaia Ombú, $210. (beautyhabit.com) 20. YSL Touche Éclat Strobing Light, $42. (yslbeautyus.com) 21. Tom Ford Vert Bohème, $225. (tomford.com) 22. Nars limited-edition Rita Audacious lipstick, $32. (sephora.com)

É

80

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

P H OTO GRA PH

BY

JEFF HARRIS

H OLIDAY

2016/2017

FOR DE TA IL S, G O TO V F. COM /C RE D ITS

20


THE 60 MINUTES/VANITY FAIR POLL

THE MODERN WORKPLACE

T

he job world certainly has changed since the wild and job? More money, obviously, but younger folks are also looking for woolly days of Mad Men and three-martini lunches. new opportunities, and the thirtysomething crowd—perhaps juggling What would our grandparents make of nap pods and a family and a house in the suburbs—craves more money and more mental-health days? We would find these modern prac- flexibility. With corporate C.E.O.’s earning so much more than the tices very hard to explain, according to this month’s rank and file, it’s natural to wonder how much “so much more” is the right amount. Roughly half of us think a C.E.O. ought survey. But we’d like to bring back features of yesteryear. More 1 to earn about 10 times an average worker’s salary. Sounds than 20 percent of us, for instance, pine for the days of the Which good, but the actual figure is nearly 200 times. handshake deal. What would tempt someone to leave their would be the most

See the complete P O L L R E S U LT S. Go to VF.COM/ HOLIDAY2016/2017.

18–29

| 30% DAYS

Which job perk would be the hardest to explain to your grandfather?

PODS

E MOTIVA TION RET

PATERNITY LEAVE | 15%

TO NA P REATS | 1

NO ANSWER MARTINI LUNCHES

7%

7%

IN | 2

9%

8%

S.

45% ANNUAL BONUSES AND REGULAR PAY RAISES 17% FREQUENT PRAISE FROM THEIR BOSS

Which one of these is the best way to keep an employee motivated?

33% HAVING PRIDE IN THE WORK THEY DO

46%

MEDIA | 37% DRUGS AND PHARMACEUTICALS | 30% BANKING | 19% TECHNOLOGY | 7%

62%

2

10x 20x 100x 50x 200x 14%

21%

Which one of the following business practices would you most like to bring back in style?

This poll was conducted on behalf of CBS News by SSRS of Media, Pennsylvania, among a random sample of 1,017 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone September 28–October 2, 2016. Some low-percentage answer choices may have been omitted, and some numbers have been rounded off.

3% THE THOUGHT OF BEING OUT OF A JOB

HANDSHAKE DEALS

5

MONEY 35% 40% OPPORTUNITY 25% 18% FLEXIBILITY 26% 9% RESPONSIBILITY 9% 0% DEPENDS 1%

BEING ABLE TO FLIRT WITH YOUR CO-WORKER

4%

30+ YR

34%

TH HEAL TALMEN

6

E M P L OY E

YRS.

important thing for you to consider if you were looking for a new job?

15%

THEY SHOULD BE PAID THE SAME 5%

AS MUCH AS THEY CAN/ NO LIMIT

2%

3

How much more than the average pay of an employee is it fair for a C.E.O. to earn?

6%

12%

A GUARANTEED RAISE EACH YEAR

1%

I DON’T KNOW 4

7. What’s the worst thing about your current job? A sampling of answers from the 1,017 people surveyed:

I have to look at a screen.

The chance of being blown up on a deployment. The fact that I can’t come in anytime that I want. Getting old. 82

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

Which one of these industries engages in the greatest amount of unethical behavior?

The sexual harassment. I haven’t had a raise in 10 years!

You never get a break from it. I work with teenagers all day. They have hormones. Meeting strangers.

Waking up in the morning.

Having to preach every Sunday. Competing with lower-wage overseas jobs.

Co-workers.

The pay. H OLIDAY

2016/2 017

FILM STILL FROM MARY EVANS/RONALD GRANT/EVERETT COLLECTION

@vf.com


INTRODUCING

VANITYFAIR.COM’S NEW DAILY MENU

Covering Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and Washington, D.C.

Obsessing over Hollywood—movies, TV, awards, and more …

Tracking celebrity, fashion, and—why not?—royals.

VISIT VF.COM TO SAMPLE THE BEST OF ALL THREE, OR GO STRAIGHT TO OUR DEDICATED LANDING PAGES:

V F H I V E . C OM

V F H W D . C OM

V F VA N I T I E S . C OM


HOL IDAY 2 0 16/ 2 0 17

3 1 DAY S i n t h e L I F E o f t h e C U LT U R E

p. 96

ROLLING STONES: BACK WITH THE BLUES

p. 96

THIS MONTH IN BOOKS p. 98 AND MORE …

PH OTOG RA P H © T HE ALPI NA GSTA AD

Æ DAVEED DIGGS’S NEXT ACT

PEAK SEASON The Swiss alpine village of Gstaad has long been known as a winter wonderland for the beau monde, where the social scene is as lofty as the slopes. From enchanting chalets to elite après-ski, the allure of the idyllic resort town is captured in a new book, In the Spirit of Gstaad, by Mandolyna Theodoracopulos and Homera Sahni, out now from Assouline.

HOLIDAY 2 016 / 2 017

www.vanityfair.com

VAN IT Y

FAIR

93


DÉJÀ BLUE <

t certainly wasn’t planned,” says Keith Richards about the Rolling Stones’ new blues album, Blue & Lonesome. “We just ran through some blues numbers to get the sound in the studio,” he adds, “but the more we listened to the stuff, we realized we had to obey orders.” For the Stones, recording 12 tracks in five days is a first in their 54-year career, and, Richards says, “it all happened by itself.” Here, he shares his thoughts with Lisa Robinson on a few of the classics covered on their new album, out December 2. “Blue and Lonesome” —Little Walter

Hot Tracks DAV EED DIGG S

ecause of this Hamilton fairy dust, I have so many doors open to me now,” says Tony Award–winning actor-rapper Daveed Diggs, whose dual roles as Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson were standouts in that American musical theater phenomenon. Diggs, currently on the ABC series Black-ish, is also on tour with his rap group Clipping, and has plans to start work on a solo rap album. Here, he talks with Lisa Robinson about life after Hamilton. LISA ROBINSON: You left Hamilton this past summer. Are you sick of talking about the show? DAVEED DIGGS: It’s a good thing that I love the show and the people who built it, because I just as easily could have been in a hit that I didn’t love. But I like that people are starting to find out that I do other things. L.R.: Other than the attention, how did Hamilton change your life? D.D.: In almost every way. It’s pretty rare for an actor, or artist, to be able to ask yourself, ‘What do you want to do?’ and I’m in that position now because of Hamilton. I’m able to say no to a lot of things. I’m not worried about money: I take cabs now—I never took cabs my entire life. My mantra about what a level of success would be was ‘just buy the

sandwich’—not to have to worry about if I could buy a sandwich when I was hungry. L.R.: You’re known as a very fast rapper. What is the idea behind Clipping—your rap group with Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson? D.D.: Clipping is a very specific, concept-y thing. We have all these rules: we don’t sample drums, we create all our own sounds, I don’t speak in the first person. We come from a background of experimental music like John Cage … Philip Glass. L.R.: How will your solo rap album differ from Clipping? D.D.: Less formal, just rap songs about whatever I want them to be about. A little more straight-ahead. All these ideas I’ve had that I thought I’d get to someday … maybe someday is right now.

BAC K I N B OX E D Out now: some influential albums re-released for the holiday season. David Bowie’s Who Can I Be Now? is a boxed set that features work from 1974 to 1976, including Young Americans and Station to Station ... Lou Reed’s massive set, Lou Reed—The RCA & Arista Album Collection, includes such gems as Transformer and Street Hassle … The Band celebrates the 40th anniversary of The Last Waltz with a collector’s edition featuring the original soundtrack of their last concert, Martin Scorsese’s extraordinary concert film, and a replica of Scorsese’s shooting script ... And the divine Bette Midler, who stars on Broadway this spring in the much-anticipated Hello, Dolly!, releases a deluxe edition of her 1972 debut, The Divine Miss M. — L . R .

96

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

“Hate to See You Go” —Little Walter

“A lot of the songs on this album are Mick’s and my Top 10. Mick’s harp playing is great; this is where Mick Jagger can shine and where nobody else can put a foot.” “I Can’t Quit You Baby” —Willie Dixon/Otis Rush

“Willie Dixon was probably the King of the Chicago blues, the Big Daddy of Chicago and Chess Records; head and shoulders above everyone. A lot of Muddy Waters‘ hits were Willie Dixon songs.” “Ride ’Em On Down” —Eddie Taylor

“Eddie Taylor—a great guitar player and a lovely voice. He isn’t a name that would jump out at you unless you were really into the blues, but he was very well known in blues circles. And, like most of that Chicago-blues stuff, there’s lovely interplay with the guitars. Always two guitars—the ancient form of weaving.”

PHOTOG RA P HS BY CHR I S CR IS MA N ( DI G GS ), M A RK SE LI GER (RI CHARDS); FO R DE TAI LS, GO TO VF.CO M/C RE DI TS

“Little Walter inspired all of us with his work with Muddy Waters. He was Muddy’s harp player for most of the 1950s, and it was always standout stuff.”


stories of the late activist, playwright, and filmmaker Kathleen Collins want to know Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? (Ecco). Siri Hustvedt’s insightful essays on art, sex, and general judgment join forces in A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women (Simon & Schuster). Colin MacCabe’s Perpetual Carnival (Oxford) seamlessly switches the reels between film and literature. Mary McCartney reminds us to be not afraid of greatness with her unprecedentedly intimate photos of actor Mark Rylance and company in Twelfth Night 13.12.15 (Heni). Peter Godfrey-Smith’s Other Minds (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) sells us on the sentient cephalopod and the history of our own consciousness, one tentacle at a time. Stay woke, friends.

Hot Type

— S LOA N E

CROSLEY

IN SHORT Kevin Dann has come to Expect Great Things (TarcherPerigee) from bicentennial birthday boy Henry David Thoreau. Banana Yoshimoto’s novels are like jewel boxes, and Moshi Moshi (Counterpoint) is no exception. Sasha Sokolov’s classic Between Dog and Wolf (Columbia University) is intricate and rewarding—a Russian Finnegans Wake. Carrie Fisher goes beyond the side-buns in The Princess Diarist (Blue Rider). Robert Harris gets a bead on the Vatican in Conclave (Knopf). Mark K. Shriver takes a Pilgrimage (Random House) in search of the real Pope Francis. Photographer John Loengard frames us all, Moment by Moment (Thames & Hudson). Terry O’Neill (ACC) takes us on a 50-year-long tour of his iconic pictures. Shane Mitchell gets a taste of the world in Far Afield (Ten Speed). Kevin Morris goes for a slam dunk in his debut novel, All Joe Knight (Grove). My, what big fictional teeth Emily Fridlund has in History of Wolves (Atlantic Monthly Press). Joshua JellySchapiro accesses a tropical archipelago in Island People (Knopf). Michael Tisserand inks a black-and-white life gone Krazy (Harper). Nobel Prize winner Günter Grass’s final work demonstrates how Of All That Ends (Houghton Mifflin), his legacy lives on. Robert Wagner gets close up on the glam dames in I Loved Her in the Movies (Viking). Sisters One, Two, Three (Lake Union) is Nancy Star’s unnerving variation on Martha’s Vineyard. High jinks and heart ensue in Paul Muldoon’s Selected Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). Samanta Schweblin’s electric story reads like a Fever Dream (Riverhead). If Our Bodies Could Talk (Doubleday), they’d want James Hamblin taking dictation. Let’s shack up with the .0001 percent in Steven M. Price’s Trousdale Estates (Regan Arts). — S . C .

Vintage luggage tags from Orient Express: The Legend of Travel (Assouline), by Sixtine Dubly.

Capturing a Continent Too often photography, like writing, from Africa is dominated by disaster porn—visions of war-torn villages, child soldiers, dictators, and disease. But with the new picture book Everyday Africa (Kehrer Verlag), which has grown out of the popular Instagram project begun in 2012 by Peter DiCampo and V.F. staffer Austin Merrill, a whole other landscape emerges. Here’s the rich variety of life across the continent caught in moments that offer a more intimate, nuanced view, shorn of stereotype. No wonder the Everyday concept is fast expanding to all corners of the globe, where camera phones are revolutionizing how we bear witness to daily reality. — A N D E R S O N T E P P E R 98

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

H OLIDAY

2016/2017

PH OTO GR A PHS BY L O L A H A KIM I A N ( OR I EN T E XP RE S S : TH E LE GE ND OF T R AVE L ), T IM H OU T ( B OO KS ) ; F O R D ETA I L S, GO TO V F.COM / CR EDI TS

rom the winter sky comes Michael Chabon’s radiant Moonglow (Harper). This close-to-the-bone novel, in the works since his first, was inspired by the stories Chabon’s grandfather told on his deathbed. The narrative unwraps to reveal a multi-layered, tragicomic package containing some of Chabon’s favorite toys: love, family, Jewish identity, model-rocketry, and full-scale war. Of the model rocket in question, the Pulitzer Prize– winning author writes, “It was at once a prayer sent heavenward and the answer to that prayer.” The same could be said for this genre-swirling tale. You better not pout: Will Schwalbe and his great taste are coming to town with Books for Living (Knopf). Dava Sobel breaks the observatory ceiling in The Glass Universe (Viking). The short


APP

ALBUM

What’s the first thing Kendrick looks at on her phone each morning? “I’m so basic,” she says, “but usually Twitter, because that’s how you find out if somebody died in the night. There’s that classic pit in your stomach when you see somebody’s name on the trending topics and you think, Please don’t be dead; please just be caught drunk driving.”

Kendrick is not a big concertgoer (“I think you’re mistaking me for someone who gets out”), but she says she has “just gotten into” Solange Knowles’s album A Seat at the Table. “I feel like it’s kind of too cool for me—but it’s bringing me into a new level of cool just by having it play near me.” B EYO N C É S O N G

Ever since Beyoncé’s BET Awards performance, Kendrick says, “Freedom” (featuring Kendrick Lamar) has been her “jam.” (“I was like, Oh my God, I’m at church, on the floor, speaking in tongues right now.”) But her old standby is “Countdown.” She explains, “When it comes on, you feel like ‘Oh, this is my song, this is my secret favorite Beyoncé song.’ And then, every girl knows the lyrics, but you still feel cool.”

AC T O R

Martin Freeman—best known, Stateside at least, for his roles in the BBC’s television series Sherlock and the Hobbit film franchise—is “under-appreciated,” Kendrick argues. “I feel like people should be screaming bloody murder about what a genius that man is.” M OV I E

George Cukor’s 1939 film The Women is Kendrick’s favorite movie of all time, but, in terms of recent fare, she recommends the documentary Tickled. “If people have ruined [Tickled] for you, then fuck those people. It’s one of those movies where you don’t want to know a ton about it. You can watch the trailer, but don’t read anything about it because it goes off.”

H O L I D AY T R A D I T I O N

Anna Kendrick The actress—whose first book, Scrappy Little Nobody, is out now—recommends some people, places, and things By J O S H D U B O F F

WATCH LIST What to go see:

20TH CENTURY WOMEN

100

WHO’S IN IT

A radiant, intelligent Annette Bening; Greta Gerwig doing maybe her best work ever; and Billy Crudup as a sad-eyed Lothario.

WILL REMIND YOU OF

Old Cameron Crowe meets a little David Sedaris, filtered through Beginners.

WHY NOW

Mike Mills’s finely acted, wisely written coming-of-age tale, set in 1979 Santa Barbara, is a movie about life that is bursting with it. Take the sensitive bohemian in your y family to see it.

WHEN YOU CAN SEE IT

In theaters December 25.

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

Kendrick says, come the holidays, she enjoys listening to Stevie Wonder’s Christmas music and decorating cookies. “I know [cookie decorating] sounds normal, but I get so into it and so detailed,” she says. “It’s one of those things [where] my constant anxiety is assuaged by just the specific and focused act of putting tiny dots on sugar-cookie snowflakes.”

By R I C H A R D L AW S O N What to tune in to:

What to stream:

SEARCH PARTY

THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE

A cast of young, hip comedy up-and-comers, including Arrested Development’s Alia Shawkat, and John Early.

Rising Australian actress Bella Heathcote joins the sprawling cast, which includes Rufus Sewell and Rupert Evans, this season.

The Brooklyn bite of Girls applied to a Hal Hartley mystery. This offbeat (and sometimes deliberately off-putting) series speaks in a millennial vernacular that is sharp and unsettling. It’s piercingly funny and not afraid to be grim. Now airing on TBS.

SEASON TWO

The series is based on Philip K. Dick’s 1962 alternate-history thriller. An engaging premise— what if the Allies lost World War II?—provides plenty of grand intrigue, with a big science-fiction twist. On Amazon December 16.

H OLIDAY

2016/2017

P HOTO GR A PHS F RO M A 24 ( 2 0 TH CE NT URY WOM EN ), F RO M A MA Z O N PR IM E VI DE O ( T H E M A N IN T HE H I G H C AST L E ) , F RO M M A NAGEM E NT + A RT I STS + SY ND IC ATI O N ( KE ND RI CK ), F RO M TB S ( S E ARCH PART Y)

ACCORDING TO:


A R O U N D t h e WO R L D, O N E PA RT Y a t a T I M E

HOL IDAY 2 016

HOL IDAY 2 016/ 2 017

Conan O’Brien and Jessica Diehl

Sarah Jessica Parker and Richard Plepler

SUMMIT LEAGUE

Vivi Nevo, Ron Meyer, and Tom Freston

James Allison and Sean Parker

The proverbial “room where it happens” was at capacity at the third annual Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit, in San Francisco. A market-moving crowd, which included hedge-funders, movie stars, and founders and C.E.O.’s of the world’s biggest tech and media companies, connected over meals, cocktail receptions at the St. Regis and the Ferry Building, and two days of state-of-the-art programming at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Marcus Samuelsson Yuri Milner, Michael Evans, and Travis Kalanick

Walter Isaacson, Jason Blum, Barry Diller, and Bryan Lourd

Jean Pigozzi, Jony Ive, Trevor Traina, and Juliet de Baubigny

CON TI NUED ON PAGE 105

Gabriel Sherman George Lucas and Mellody Hobson take in the final presidential debate.

Cocktails at the San Francisco Ferry Building.

Jeff Bezos Jim Gianopulos and Eddy Cue Bob Iger

David Zaslav and Aryeh Bourkoff

Names Nam N am ameess Teekay Te TTee eeeekka kay ay ay Bobby Kotick and Leslie Moonves

Rashida Jones

H OLIDAY

2016/2 017

P HOTO GR A PHS BY J UST I N BI S HO P ( F ER RY B UI L DI NG , J O N ES , L UCA S , M IL N ER , STAGE) , HA N NA H T HO MS O N (A L L OTH ER S)

John Lasseter, Kathleen Kennedy, and Kevin Feige

Brad Grey and Ted Sarandos


CON TI NUED FROM PAGE 102

Jeff Koons and the BMW Art Car of his design.

Lynsey Addario and Annie Leibovitz Mariachis welcome guests to the Ferry Building.

Nick Bilton and Sarah Ellison

Larry Gagosian

Hamdi Ulukaya Frank Rich and Fran Lebowitz Anne Wojcicki and Esther Wojcicki Opening-night cocktails at the St. Regis, s, presented by Giorgio Armani. Aaron Levie Marty Baron

Peter Chernin and Susan Wojcicki

Simon Sebag Montefiore and Charles Finch

Cyril Blot-Lefevre, Olivia Le Tonqueze, and Helly Nahmad Eric Fellner

PHOTOG R A PHS : TOP, BY J UST IN B ISH OP ( CHA N, LE VI E , MA R IACHI S , AN N E WOJ C I CKI ) , HA N NA H THOMS ON ( A LL OTHE R S) ; BOT TOM, BY SHAU N J AME S COX

Countess of Woolton

Waris Ahluwalia and Eugenie Niarchos

Priscilla Chan, Darren Walker, and Mellody Hobson

Gael Boglione, Alice Brudenell-Bruce, Laura Bailey, and Andrea Dellal

Andrew Ross Sorkin, Mary Parent, Beth Comstock, and Michael Moritz

Ed Vaizey and Clementine Fraser

Ron Arad and Yana Peel

MASTER OF ARTS Charles Finch and Helly Nahmad hosted artists and collectors at a private dinner, during Frieze Masters 2016, at Markâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Club, in London.

Richard E. Grant and Saffron Aldridge Ben Cura and Olga Kurylenko

Lady Amelia Windsor

Elisa Lasowski, Anatole Maggiar, and Anna Brewster

HO L I DAY 2 016 / 2 017

www.vanityfair.com

VAN IT Y

FAIR

105


IN THE DETAILS

What You Should Know About

ISABELLA ROSSELLINI

A PANOPLY OF ECCENTRIC BIOGRAPHICAL DATA RE: THE ACTRESS-MODEL-AGRICULTURALIST

A

neat trick, exuding mystique SHE HAS spent much of her adult life in and down-to-earth affability the United States and is a naturalized at the same time. Isabella U.S. citizen. She feels American “in the Rossellini’s silent-movie-star way that I’m working—to evolve from features and milky complexion have modeling into acting, directing, writing, twice compelled the cosmetics house and going back to school,” she says. Lancôme to make her its public face— “It’s America that gave me that sense first in the 1980s, and once again in of freedom and possibility.” 2016, the year she turned 64. But SHE HAS two adult children: Elettra Rossellini is also a freewheelin’ gal with Wiedemann, a model turned food writer mud beneath her fingernails, raising and editor, and a son, Roberto Rossellichickens and harvesting honey on her ni (named for his grandfather), a model organic farm in Brookhaven, New and aspiring photographer. York, out on Long Island. A lifelong SHE RECALLS the impetus for Elettra’s getlover of animals, she has made a mark ting into food writing to be the fundain recent years with her wonderful mental modeling question, How do I Green Porno series of Web shorts about eat and not get fat? “Unfortunately,” she animal behavior, produced for the Sunsays, “the answer is ‘Do not eat pasta.’ ” dance Channel and featuring Rossellini SHE LOVES pasta. So, she says, did her in all manner of beaky and buggy cosfather, who, in the days before the widetumes, delivering uninhibitedly silly but spread availability of quality Italian genuinely educational monologues. groceries outside of Italy, “traveled with (“When they come out of the egg sac, pasta in his luggage.” GOOD EGG my babies are ravenous. If I don’t let them eat me, they SHE BELIEVES that the foremost trait she inherited from her Rossellini, would eat each other. We spiders ... are cannibals!”) father is being a good raconteur. photographed in As an actress, Rossellini is still best known for her perSHE BELIEVES that the foremost trait she inherited from New York City. formance as a nightclub singer in David Lynch’s Blue her mother is being orderly: “I clean my house frantiVelvet, but she cuts a fierce figure in Hulu’s new dramatcally, like she did.” ic series Shut Eye, as the matriarch of a Roma crime family that OF THE celebrated individuals she got to meet thanks to her parents, controls L.A.’s network of psychic shops. (A much richer premise she was most inspired by the Magnum photographer Eve Arnold, than it sounds.) Herewith, some facts and insights gleaned from the journalist Oriana Fallaci, and the director Federico Fellini. an afternoon conversation with the uncategorizable star. SHE HAS met two U.S. presidents, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. SHE WAS forever transformed, at the age of 14, when her father gave SHE SHARES a birthday, June 18, with her twin sister, Ingrid, and her the book King Solomon’s Ring (1949), a seminal study of Sir Paul McCartney. She has been thrilled by the McCartney coin- animal psychology and intelligence by the Austrian scientist cidence since childhood, and, she says, “I always wish him a very Konrad Lorenz. happy birthday—mentally, because I have never met him.” GIVEN HER zoological bent, she surprised her relatives in her late SHE IS especially keen on two breeds of heritage chicken that she is rais- 20s when she fell into, of all things, modeling: “When I became ing, the Campine, an ancient Flemish bird said to have been coveted a model, the family was like, ‘Whaaat? Her?’ ” by Julius Caesar, and the Cochin, “lovely because it’s very feathery.” SHE CREDITS her fashion-world experience with helping her create the elaborate costumes for her Green Porno films. SHE RAISES her chickens for eggs, not for meat. HER NAMELESS farm (“Everybody calls it Isabella’s Farm”) is part SHE DESCRIBES her deadpan commitment to playing horny, confused, of a Community Supported Agriculture (C.S.A.) cooperative that and fearful animals as “my homage to Buster Keaton.” sells eggs and produce to Long Island locals and to such Brooklyn SHE HAS now taken the Green Porno concept on the road, performing restaurants as Roman’s and Marlow & Daughters. monologues onstage, Spalding Gray–style. Her next one is entitled SHE IS slowly pursuing, between acting jobs, a master’s degree in ani- “Intelligence,” though she is aware that the scientific community mal behavior and conservation at Hunter College, in New York City. would prefer her to use the term “cognition.” SHE COMMUTES to school from Long Island by train. She finds driving REGARDLESS OF terminology, she is endlessly fascinated by animal “boring,” though, via farm life, she has behavior—how, for example, a trained Seeing learned to drive a pickup and a snowplow. Eye dog understands a command to find its master a chair. “If you think about chairs,” SHE IS fluent in French, English, and Italshe says, “a chair can be a bench. It can be a ian. She grew up conversing with her parsofa. It can be, you know, designed by Le Corents, the Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman MY HOUSE busier. And they’re able to generalize! How and the Italian director Roberto Rossellini, FRANTICALLY.” do they get that? They don’t sit on chairs! in French and Italian. She did not pick up That’s a cognitive ability.” —DAVID KAMP English until she was in her 20s.

“I CLEAN

106

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

P H OTO G R A P H

BY

GASPER TRINGALE

H OLIDAY

2016/2017


MEDIA

HAVING IT OUT Gawker founder Nick Denton and Silicon Valley entrepreneur Peter Thiel.

Outed by one of Gawker’s Web sites in 2007, Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel vowed to destroy Nick Denton’s online empire. Nine years later, after funding Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker, he succeeded. That dramatic act of revenge capped a long battle—over sexuality, privacy, and the press

O

By

DAVID MARGOLICK

ne day in September 2014 the publisher of Gawker Media, Nick Denton, sent an e-mail to Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist and billionaire. It could easily have been a message to a friend, or at least a kindred spirit, for, as many people who know them both have noted, the two have so much in common. They are contemporaries: Denton turned 50 this past August, and Thiel 49 two months later. Both were born in Europe— Denton in England and Thiel in Germany.

108

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

P H OTO

I L L U STRAT IO N

BY

SEAN M

C

Both graduated from fancy universities— Denton from Oxford and Thiel from Stanford. Both made their fortunes in the digital world; in fact, it had brought them together in San Francisco a dozen or so years earlier. Both are gay, and both came out relatively late. Both are libertarians, and nonconformists, and visionaries, and science-fiction fans, and workaholics, and wonks. Both have resisted getting old, Denton by attitude, Thiel through human growth hormones. Both have a cultish kind of appeal. Both were still

CABE

H OLIDAY

2016/2017

PH OTO GRA P HS BY B R UNO L E VY /CHA L LE N GE S- R EA / RE DU X ( THI E L ) , A L A N S CH I NDL E R/ CO URT E SY O F L & L HO LD IN G CO MPA NY ( BACKGRO UN D) , STE P HE N YA NG/ A .P. I MAGE S ( D EN TO N)

V.C. FOR VENDETTA


MEDIA wealthy in 2014, though as winner of one of Silicon Valley’s greatest daily doubles—he co-founded PayPal and was Facebook’s first big investor—Thiel was exponentially more so, a fact that stuck in the ultracompetitive Denton’s craw. “Nauseatingly successful” was how Denton once described him. DOES NICK DENTON WISH HE WERE PETER THIEL? a headline on Denton’s own gawker.com once asked. But, in 2007, Gawker’s Silicon Valley tributary, Valleywag, had outed Thiel, or at least

he may have been thinking, Thiel had agreed to have that cup of coffee. “Nothing came of it,” Denton told me, and this is not surprising. For by the time he received that note Thiel had already begun pouring millions of dollars into a campaign to crush Denton and Gawker Media, using Hulk Hogan, of all people, as his cudgel. And by the time Denton and I spoke, Thiel had annihilated them all more completely than even he could have imagined, thanks to a Florida jury’s awarding Hogan $140 million in his Thiel-funded lawsuit last

er, which he called a “singularly sociopathic bully.” But it overlooked a thought that Thiel, a lawyer and a chess master, had cribbed from Jose Raul Capablanca, the great Cuban champion. In court as in chess, Thiel had said, “you must begin by studying the endgame.” And the endgame of Hogan’s case may well have been a verdict that was either slashed or overturned on appeal—and a defendant, Denton, who would thereby be at least partly vindicated. In settling, Thiel has shut that process down. Bitchy, Breezy, and Snarky

“WE HAVE MORE IN COMMON

THAN MIGHT MEET THE EYE,” DENTON TOLD THIEL.

Thiel thought it had. Both before and after that, Valleywag and Gawker had continued to ridicule Thiel, his investment decisions, his ideas, and his friends. It was such stories that had led Thiel, in 2009, to label Valleywag “the Silicon Valley equivalent of Al Qaeda” and to liken its writers to terrorists. Maybe, Denton hoped, Thiel had moved on since then, or grown a thicker hide. So Denton drafted his note, which he read to me off his iPhone one day this past September. “Hey, Peter, this is a long shot but I’m going to try,” he began. “Would you get together for coffee when I’m next in San Francisco? We obviously have our differences, primarily over the politics of outing, and some of our coverage on Valleywag and Gawker has been needlessly gleeful. But your political views, while mockable, are a breath of fresh air. We have more in common than might meet the eye. I’d like to get some more constructive debate going between the New Left, which is represented rather heavily on New York editorial operations, and the Valley libertarians. The enemy is stagnation, and the vested interests that ensure stagnation, and yes, sometimes also the culture of Internet criticism that stymies original thought.” “That’s all I got,” he concluded. “Let me know if there’s a conversation to be had.” He closed with “Regards, Nick.” He then read me Thiel’s response: “Nick, I’m not sure that a political conversation would be that constructive, but … ” Denton began, only to cut himself off. “I’m not going to share that with you,” he told me, at least not without getting Thiel’s permission. (“Just manners,” he explained.) He did show me what Thiel had written, but would not let me copy it down. I remember only that it was perfectly polite, and that whatever else 110

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

March, sending Gawker Media and Denton into bankruptcy and then killing off gawker .com altogether. It was the largest invasion of privacy payday ever against a major media company, and perhaps the first ever to bankrupt one. It was far more than Denton could handle, and it led in August to the fire sale of Gawker Media to Univision for $135 million. But Univision swallowed up only six of its seven Web sites; gawker.com, which generated 20 percent of its traffic and revenue and, according to Denton, 80 percent of its tsuris, was left to die. “Good riddance,” Thiel later said of its demise. “Totally, totally oblivious!” Denton said of himself, amazed at his own blindness over what Thiel was up to. He laughed— more, it seemed, out of embarrassment than bitterness. On November 2, Denton announced that Gawker had settled the Hogan case. The settlement was for $31 million. It was, he confessed, a “hard peace,” one to which he’d reluctantly agreed largely to remove the Gawker editor who’d posted the Hogan video, A. J. Daulerio (whom Hogan had also sued and who, despite his negative net worth, had remained on the hook for $115 million in damages), out of Thiel’s crosshairs. But Denton, too, has a stake: the as-yet unsigned deal should restore some of his millions to him, and may even allow him to keep his beloved SoHo loft, site of what had once seemed would be an unending series of Gawker soirees. Denton, though, was not the only one who wanted the case resolved. The papers had picked up much of what the generally circumspect Thiel had said at a press conference two days before the deal was announced, including his support for Donald Trump and his continued attacks on Gawk-

A

t his high-water mark, before the Hogan lawsuit, Denton owned 40 percent of Gawker Media, a company valued at as much as $300 million to $400 million. The outfit, which Denton launched in 2002 with two egregiously underpaid bloggers in his apartment, on Spring Street in Manhattan, had become an Internet innovator, disrupter, and powerhouse—an “octopus with chainsaws,” someone once called it—consisting not just of its eponymous gossip Web site but six others covering everything from design and tech (Gizmodo) to sports (Deadspin) to women’s issues (Jezebel) to cars (Jalopnik) to video games (Kotaku) to self-help tips (Lifehacker). It was also an Internet rarity, a media company that, unlike BuzzFeed or Vox or Vice, had made it without outside financing, which meant it could say whatever it damned well pleased, and did. Gawker Media was the blogosphere’s version of a floating island—not unlike the man-made, tech-friendly, libertarian ones that Thiel once envisioned and invested in—beyond traditional journalism’s territorial waters. The goal, Denton liked to say, was to reduce “the friction between the thought and the page,” and his journalists, often young, green, smart, and bratty (had Holden Caulfield lived in the mid-2000s, he might have gone to Gawker to expose phonies) were the freest on the planet: free, that is, to trash or humiliate or dish or out with almost no adult supervision, least of all from Denton, a superannuated kid himself. (Denton was, after all, someone who would never call himself a C.E.O., because, as he once put it, all C.E.O.’s were “douches.”) Until relatively late in its life, when it turned to more substantive journalism (and also, at times, to meaner, more punitive, and potentially more defamatory gossip), much of Gawker was spontaneous, unfiltered, improvised—“the ultimate expression,” Denton said, “of the journalistic id.” It reflected what Denton called “iterative” journalism, in which readers would build on, or dismantle, the skeleton Gawker put out there. Click on “publish” first, then worry afterward about what was wrong. Unlike, say, Salon or Slate, Gawker felt like the first H OLIDAY

2016/2017


MEDIA journalistic outlet that truly understood, and exploited, the Internet. And unlike, say, “Page Six” of the New York Post, Gawker played no favorites and made no deals. No one in what Denton called the “celebrity media industrial complex” was off limits. Because Denton had few famous friends—that small fraternity includes South Park co-creator Matt Stone and CNN newsman Don Lemon—no one could really lean on him. One Gawkerite recalls how, on his first day at work, someone shouted to Denton that Harvey Weinstein was on the phone, upset about something. “Tell him to go fuck himself!” Denton shouted back. (“‘Go fuck yourself’ is not my style,” Denton says. “I’m not that aggressive.” Weinstein, he adds, “was used to massaging stories behind the scenes, and we didn’t do that.”) When Brian Williams, the object of one of Denton’s rare celebrity bromances and an inveterate Gawker reader himself—“[I] check your shit 10 times a day by iphone,” he once wrote Denton—e-mailed him to suggest that Gawker write about the singer Lana Del Ray’s bombing the previous evening on Saturday Night Live, gawker.com posted Williams’s e-mail instead. Williams hasn’t spoken to Denton since. Gawker Media pissed off Steve Jobs by prematurely unveiling a new iPhone; helped to unseat Toronto mayor Rob Ford when it exposed his penchant for smoking crack; revealed the football player Manti Te’o’s long-running relationship with a nonexistent woman; and helped bring down Bill Cosby. More recently, it devoted three weeks and 3,500 words to the architecture and maintenance of Donald Trump’s hair. And, most fatefully, in 2012 Gawker posted a grainy video of Hulk Hogan with his best friend’s wife, before, after, and, for nine seconds, during sex. With its signature bitchy, breezy, snarky, chatty style—which one of its shrewdest (and most appreciative) critics, the late David Carr, of The New York Times, likened to mean ninth-grade schoolgirls trashing everyone else in the playground—Gawker became a journalistic landmark, especially, perhaps, for millennials. Less appreciated is the fact that it also represented the greatest incursion ever of a gay sensibility into mainstream American journalism. And the Gawker saga—in which one fabulously successful gay man tried to ruin another—also encapsulates an epoch in gay history, a time when attitudes in both mainstream culture and within the gay community about acceptance and respectability, privacy and duty, changed so fast that it became impossible for journalists, gay or straight, to keep up. Though the stakes were obviously very different, Denton versus Thiel may be the gay version of United States v. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg: a soap opera in which members of a newly empowered but HO L I DAY 2 016 / 2 017

instinctively insecure minority—then Jews in postwar America, now gays—devoured each other in full public view.

F

or its nearly 14-year run, gawker.com reflected Denton’s ever changing and often conflicting instincts, whims, crushes, and epiphanies. And whomever he’d happened to meet at a party the night before and the state of his love life. The site was bipolar, or maybe schizophrenic, but it was never the same for long; only the chaos, and the contradictions, were continuous. Moments after one of Denton’s periodic pushes for respectability, he might suggest exposés on which public figures had dandruff, or whether the editors of the leading women’s magazines had synchronized menstrual cycles, or whether Peter Thiel was bad in bed. During their (generally short) tenures, Gawker writers regarded Denton with admiration, bemusement, puzzlement, and, a bit ostentatiously, contempt. It was fashionable to dismiss him with terms such as “robot,” “nihilist,” “villain,” or “sociopath.” “Dark Lord Balthazar,” they called him, after the restaurant across the way from his Spring Street loft, where he hung out. Denton took none of it personally; speculation that he had a dash of Asperger’s even pleased him, since it made him seem more like a Silicon Valley genius. There was something almost extraterrestrial about him. “You get this sense that he’s this life-form that was sent to earth to gather anthropological research and then send it back to the mother ship” is how Gawker reporter J. K. Trotter, whose media beat included Gawker itself, puts it. But when all of Gawker came crashing down, it was gratitude—for launching their careers, for letting them write whatever they wanted,

lated,” Denton concedes.) Daulerio, who left Gawker in 2013, nonetheless calls Gawker “the best place I will ever work” and Denton a “once-in-a-lifetime” boss. Then there’s Tommy Craggs, executive editor of Gawker Media when, in 2015, it ran the story that nearly tore the place apart, about a married media executive’s alleged aborted assignation with a gay escort. Denton’s decision to remove that story from the Web site after a storm of criticism, much of it from Gawker fans, marked yet another stage in his muchdissected and -debated evolution from amoral ass to mini-mensch, a process variously attributed to therapy, restlessness, pot, maturity, and marriage. Craggs resigned to protest that decision, mainly because it was made in consultation with a group that Denton had put together that included two people from the business side. He hadn’t spoken to Denton until spotting him at one of Gawker’s numerous wakes in August, when he approached him and shook his hand. “Nick is easily the best boss I’ve ever had. And fuck Nick Denton,” he says. In person, Denton—soft-spoken and with a closely cropped salt-and-pepper beard on what is habitually described as an outsize pumpkin head—seems as stoic and detached about his fate as one might expect a veteran journalist, to whom even one’s own life is but another story, to be. Whatever he did to forestall it, he has now convinced himself that Gawker’s demise was preordained and, in the end, the greatest tribute it could have been given: anything that pissed off so many people for so long was doomed. In fact, he now says, it’s amazing it held on as long as it did; had Thiel not come along, some other thin-skinned billionaire (or “comic-book villain”) would have. Mostly, he is relieved.

DENTON MIGHT SUGGEST EXPOSÉS ON WHICH PUBLIC

FIGURES HAD DANDRUFF.

for giving them a home—that these writers generally felt. Most, if not all, was forgiven. Take A. J. Daulerio, who, as editor of gawker.com, posted the Hogan video and wrote the accompanying story, “Even for a Minute, Watching Hulk Hogan Have Sex in a Canopy Bed Is Not Safe for Work but Watch It Anyway.” As Hogan’s case wended its way through the courts, Daulerio grew angry at Denton, feeling he had distanced himself from the decision to post the sex tape. (“We could not talk about testimony and other things, so he might have felt iso-

Restless, increasingly estranged from his own creation, and starved for cash to pay his lawyers, he’d discussed unloading the company even before the Hogan trial. And, thank God, with Univision taking on all of his employees, the only person to lose his job was he. Denton remains convinced that Thiel came after Gawker not because it outed him but because he resented Gawker’s coverage of Silicon Valley generally. Still, he admires Thiel—or, at least, says he does, having learned that flattering Thiel makes www.vanityfair.com

VAN IT Y

FAIR

111


MEDIA more sense than pissing him off. Denton sees in him those traits, notably ruthlessness, that Denton and other successful gay men of their generation needed to survive. He thinks Thiel is just insecure, that he needs to be a genius and hates ridicule. Denton even admires his stagecraft—how he managed to present as a blow for privacy rights something Denton sees as an act of petty revenge. “Canny positioning,” he calls it. Meanwhile, Thiel has single-handedly turned the muchvilified Denton, whom even the mainstream

Times, in Budapest, from which he covered the Iron Curtain’s collapse. He’d escape regularly to Vienna, where he’d buy porn, sushi, and the latest issues of Macworld and Wired. In 1998 he persuaded the F.T. to send him to San Francisco. During the next two years, while shuttling between London and the Bay Area, he founded two start-ups, a news aggregator and a social-events business. The success of the second, along with some real-estate investments, provided seed money for something else. It was in San Francisco

THIEL CONFESSED TO A GERMAN PAPER THAT HE

CHECKED GAWKER “QUITE OFTEN.”

press largely abandoned in his moment of need, into something he’d never previously been: a martyr. Though Denton steadfastly won’t confirm it, sources at Gawker and also a person with knowledge of the meeting say that, two months after the Hogan verdict, Denton reached out to Thiel yet again, and, with the help of two high-level Silicon Valley intermediaries, got Thiel to agree to see him in San Francisco. Asked, prior to the settlement, for details on the meeting, Denton, who built Gawker on the gospel that everybody has the right to know everything, clammed up. “I’m constrained” is all, at long last, he finally said. And therein lies perhaps the most humiliating part of Denton’s defeat: a man who labored to expose Silicon Valley had ended up submitting to its rules. Eventually, though, he supplied corroboration of a kind. When he volunteered, almost giddily, how socially maladroit Thiel was—“He’s almost bashful. Doesn’t even really seem to make eye contact”—he was obviously speaking from very recent experience. (Thiel declined to participate in this story.)

D

A 10-Year Vendetta

enton grew up in North London. Young Nick identified intellectually with his father, a professor of economics, but was closer to his mother, a psychotherapist born in Budapest who’d survived both the Nazis and the Communists. A childhood spent amid disputatious Hungarian Jews like her would one day help make polyglot New York feel more like home to him than anywhere else he’d ever been. A picture from his adolescence shows a nerdy boy reading a book by Isaac Asimov in his backyard. Following Oxford, he became a stringer at several newspapers, including the Financial

112

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

that he (briefly) met Thiel, whose ideas—like a system of money that transcended governments—he found interesting. Denton found San Francisco surprisingly boring. “I loved the idea of San Francisco, but it’s not a sexy place,” he says. “I love cosmopolitan big cities and it’s just not that.” Worse, it had few black men—a problem because they were the only men he dated. “They’re just more real,” he explains. (This is why, when false rumors arose in the wake of Thiel’s emergence as Hogan’s funder that he and Denton had once been lovers, Denton’s denials rang true.) And Silicon Valley, overwhelmingly white or Asian and straight and stilted, was still more unappealing, whatever secrets it held. So he came to New York in 2002, and, almost as a hobby—until some tech thing came along— he launched his blogs. Gizmodo came first, in mid-2002, and several months later there was Gawker. (“It sounded like how somebody putting on a New York accent would say ‘New Yawk.’ ”) Denton was unapologetic about its focus: to him gossip, at least about people of consequence, is a social emetic, flushing out privilege and mendacity, mediocrity and hypocrisy. And, besides, it’s fun. Other Web sites, some that stuck and many that did not, quickly followed. But, still interested in tech, Denton commuted to San Francisco in late 2006 to run his Silicon Valley blog, Valleywag. Looming large on his beat was Thiel, who, Denton learned from colleagues—“It was all over the journalistic grapevine,” he says—was not just one of the Valley’s biggest stars but one of its few gay ones. Denton dates his own coming out to the mid- to late 1990s, but others put it later, and say he remains ambivalent about embracing gay culture generally. Perhaps because he had been slow to come out

himself, Denton was emphatic about outing others, at least well-known others. Long forced to remain in hiding and then, in some instances, staying there even after they’d been free to leave, gays had been tragically marginalized, he felt. “The erasure of gay people from the historical record, I think, has been a crime, and it’s a crime that continued until really very recently,” he says. “People led lives that were invisible.” Since gays had so few role models, those who had made it spectacularly in the straight world should come forward, or have it done for them. And what cost was there if it was already common knowledge among the cognoscenti? Journalists, he believed, had no business keeping open secrets. Journalistically and emotionally, Denton was always a libertarian: it was for others to determine “appropriateness.” Denton wrote periodically (and suggestively) on Thiel and friends, including “As Decadent as Silicon Valley Gets,” a June 2007 post detailing the “young playboys” of Thiel’s Founders Fund—a venturecapital firm he co-founded in 2005—cavorting, largely among other men, at a Playboy Club–style mansion in San Francisco. “For all the financier’s social awkwardness, teetotal aversion to alcohol and obsession with immortality,” Denton wrote of Thiel, he “always had a weakness for libertines.” The next month, Thiel confessed to a German paper that he checked the site “quite often.” Denton proceeded to tackle Thiel’s gayness more explicitly, only to encounter opposition. Max Levchin, a PayPal colleague of Thiel’s whom Denton also knew, pleaded with Denton to lay off, in part, says Denton, because Levchin feared Thiel might suspect that his girlfriend, who worked for Thiel, had been a source. (Levchin wouldn’t comment.) “I got a series of messages relaying the destruction that would rain down on me, and various innocent civilians caught in the crossfire,” Denton later posted. Running out of time and unable to find some non-gossipy way to write the story, Denton says, he shelved it. Owen Thomas, the technology journalist to whom Denton had passed the Valleywag job in July 2007, was more persistent, and ingenious. Thomas, gay but more militant than Denton, also knew about Thiel’s sexual orientation and was itching to write about it. In fact, for anyone paying any attention, he already had. In a blog from October 2007, he described how a smitten young woman had asked Thiel to sign something for her after he had given a talk at a college in Tennessee. “If that girl was hoping to score more than just an autograph from Thiel, she’s due for a double-dip of disappointment,” Thomas wrote. Then, in “Peter Thiel Crush Alert!,” a month later, he reported that a local (male) real-estate agent H OLIDAY

2016/2017


MEDIA had called Thiel “dreamy.” “We hate to break it to you … but Thiel’s taken,” Thomas wrote. “If he weren’t though, you’d have a better shot than that Tennessee girl who lined up to get his autograph.” Ordinarily, the post Thomas proceeded to write that December would have been considered a puff piece: Thiel, it said, was the smartest venture capitalist “in the world” and “more power to him” for pulling that off as a gay man in Silicon Valley, which, for all its purported tolerance, was, in fact,

him make nice with the press in general and Gawker in particular. “I never felt this was the beginning of a 10-year vendetta,” says Sicha; Thiel struck him as “quiet, thoughtful, perfectly sane.” Perhaps these were feints with pawns as Thiel lined up his knights and bishops. Gawker reporters knew how obsessed Denton was with outing household names, and catered to his wishes. For instance, after the New York Post described an unnamed gay star beating and raping his for-

“WE’RE TRUTH ABSOLUTISTS,” DENTON WROTE.

“OR RATHER, I AM.” homophobic. But, for most readers—and, presumably, for Thiel himself—the takeaway was the headline: PETER THIEL IS TOTALLY GAY, PEOPLE. The New Yorker once said Thiel had a “pronounced aversion to conflict.” And for the time being, he did nothing to strike back. But with Gawker, at least, Thiel wasn’t so much non-confrontational as deliberate. “Peter figured out that Gawker would get so out of control that eventually they’d do something so stupid that no one would defend them and he’d just wait,” says Keith Rabois, a Silicon Valley executive and PayPal alum whose friendship with Thiel dates back to their law-school days at Stanford. “He correctly forecast that they would get worse in their behavior—that, inevitably, that crowd would massively screw up and no one would want to defend them.” (Thomas, now the business editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, says Thiel’s real beef with the piece was that it turned off potential investors from Saudi Arabia.) Denton returned to New York, but Valleywag, and Gawker, remained, incessantly, on Thiel’s case, as a few additional headlines attest: PETER THIEL’S RICHER THAN YOU, BUT NOT AS RICH AS HE’D LIKE YOU TO THINK; A FACEBOOK BILLIONAIRE’S BIG DUMB FAILURE; FACEBOOK BACKER WISHES WOMEN COULDN’T VOTE. But Thiel indeed bided his time until Gawker made the wrong move. So what is one to make of that polite e-mail exchange with Denton? Or the wine-bar meeting Thiel had with Gawker editor Ryan Tate in 2009 during which Thiel—“a little sweaty and difficult to talk to, kind of like Nick, hard to read his emotions,” Tate recalls—even joked that it seemed he did negotiate with terrorists? A year earlier, Thiel had even enlisted both a New York lawyer and Choire Sicha, the former Gawker editor widely credited with devising its distinctive style, to help HO L I DAY 2 016 / 2 017

mer boyfriend, Gawker asked readers to guess the culprit, then named the winner and the runners-up—a stunt that later led the Gawker reporter who supervised the contest to apologize, one of the periodic ex post facto mea culpas that Denton’s minions have felt compelled to issue over the years. When Tracy Moore, of Jezebel, advised readers, “Don’t out someone who doesn’t want to be out,” Denton pounced. “She’s working at the wrong place,” he wrote. “We’re truth absolutists. Or rather, I am. And I choose to work with fellow spirits.” When Thiel told an interviewer earlier this year that “radical transparency” was a policy that East Germany’s Stasi would have favored, he may well have had Gawker, and Denton, in mind. If, as one Gawkerite says, Denton developed crushes on straight male editors whose fortunes waxed and waned with the state of his infatuation (a suggestion Denton laughingly dismisses), his fiercest and most durable crush was on Daulerio, a roughhewn throwback to the Five Star Final era of journalism, fueled by sex, controlled substances, and a passion for great and gritty stories. Denton favored Daulerio for the same reason he admired Andrew Breitbart, Lee Atwater (“a joyful warrior”), Rupert Murdoch (“one of the world’s great gossips”), Roger Ailes, and various right-wing enemies of the traditionally liberal journalistic establishment: all were “buccaneers.” It was Daulerio who’d posted Brian Williams’s note to Denton, who upon learning about it stormed up to him shouting, “What the fuck are you doing?,” only to realize that what Daulerio was doing was his job. And it was Daulerio who, in early October 2012, posted the Hogan video and his accompanying story, a rumination on how obsessed ordinary people were with boring celebrity sex. To him, it was no big

deal—TMZ had written about the video (and a Web site called the Dirty had posted screen shots from it) months earlier. And, to Denton, who cared so little about sports that he thought March Madness lasted into June, it mattered even less. But to Thiel and Hogan’s lead lawyer on the anti-Gawker crusade, Charles Harder, of Beverly Hills, it proved the long-awaited casus belli. Blithely unaware that his world was under attack, and with their therapist officiating, Denton married the 31-year-old actor Derrence Washington in New York’s American Museum of Natural History in May 2014. For Denton and his friends it was a joyous affair—“like watching Pinocchio turn into a real boy,” Daulerio later said. As one of Hogan’s lawyers gleefully told jurors, this great avatar of openness had all cell phones confiscated at the door. (It was to ensure attentiveness rather than to protect his privacy, Denton insists.) The affair was covered in the Vows column of The New York Times, a feature that, naturally, Gawker had often skewered. Denton banned Gawker’s Gawker reporter, J. K. Trotter, from the proceedings; pictures of Trotter were posted to keep him from infiltrating.

T

Smackdown Time

he more the Hogan case ground on, the more precarious Gawker grew: under Florida law, whatever Hogan won, Gawker had to post up to $50 million toward the total damages, even pending an appeal. Making matters worse, its insurance coverage didn’t apply, forcing it to turn to a Russian oligarch for funds. Meanwhile, weary of Internet nastiness and preoccupied with his next thing—an interactive, comment-based Web site called Kinja—Denton found himself ever more aligned with Gawker’s critics. Two stories in particular offended him; it was probably no coincidence that each concerned children, for Denton and Washington were contemplating a family of their own. First came “Zoe Saldana Gives Birth to Hipster Scum,” lambasting the actress for the names (Cy, Bowie) she’d given her twins. Even worse was “Bristol Palin Makes Great Argument for Abortion in Baby Announcement.” “Gawker is out of control,” Denton, who is pro-life, complained to a colleague. He’d stopped reading the full Gawker feed, he added, for fear of what he might find: he was “ashamed of the callow viciousness” and “dull intellectual orthodoxy.” Denton rarely read anything posted on Gawker before it went up; he deferred to his editors, and, anyway, there was just too much of it. Then, in July 2015, came the story about the married media executive. After 18 hours’ worth of angry tweets, many from Gawker’s friends, Denton pulled it down. “We let that idea gain roots, that freedom is the freedom to do whatever the fuck you www.vanityfair.com

VAN IT Y

FAIR

113


MEDIA want,” he said at one of the several nearinsurrectionary all-hands meetings that ensued. “Actually it’s not. I don’t want some guy blowing his brains out and that being on our hands.” Most of his writers disagreed with his decision. The resignations of Craggs and other staffers, including gawker.com editor Max Read, followed. Under normal circumstances, Hogan, who is not a wealthy man, would probably have settled. (His lawyers had even warned the court that their client could “not af-

Hogan’s lawyers tossed out New York references like confetti, the better to make Denton—“this guy … up there in New York sitting behind a computer, playing God with other people’s lives,” as one of them, Kenneth Turkel, of Tampa, described him— appear even more alien to jurors in Pinellas County, Florida, than a gay half-Hungarian Jew already was. So completely did the jurors not get Denton that, in a question submitted to the judge, one of them asked Emma Carmichael, editor of Jezebel,

“IT’S STILL NOT TOO LATE

TO RESOLVE THIS,” DENTON WROTE TO THIEL.

ford an endless litigation.”) Gawker offered Hogan millions to go away, even though it insisted it had done nothing wrong. In fact, both a federal judge and a state appellate court had ruled prior to trial that, because Hogan was a public personality who made his sex life a matter of public interest, the post was protected by the First Amendment. But, mystifyingly, Hogan never bit. Far from it—an attorney for Gawker says that Hogan’s multiple lawyers dug in and cast their nets. Clearly, Hogan had someone else on his tag team. But who? To Denton, the prime suspects were all in Silicon Valley, where Gawker’s impertinence was an ongoing affront. Thiel not only topped the list; everyone else was tied for 10th. Already, the trial judge, a Jeb Bush appointee named Patricia A. M. Campbell, had proved unrelentingly hostile to Gawker, Gawker’s team believed. She excluded a raft of evidence from an earlier F.B.I. investigation suggesting, said Gawker’s lawyers, that the wrestler (a) may have known he was being taped; (b) seemed more concerned about the exposure of a racist rant than of his private parts; and (c) was inconsistent in his testimony. Instead, according to Gawker’s attorneys, it was Daulerio and Denton who were demonized by Hogan’s team. Denton’s impolitic utterances—“Every infringement of privacy is sort of liberating”; “We don’t seek to do good. We may inadvertently do good. We may inadvertently commit journalism”; “I don’t think most people give a fuck [about privacy], actually”—were projected on a screen, while Denton himself was depicted as a bully, sadist, and pornographer. The high, or low, point came when he was made to read Daulerio’s Hogan post aloud, reciting graphic descriptions of oral sex and Hogan’s penis (“the size of a thermos you’d find in a child’s lunchbox”) in his Oxford-inflected English. 114

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

whether she’d ever slept with Denton. The verdict was anticipated, but the award—$115 million in compensatory damages and another $25 million as punishment, totaling $40 million more than Hogan sought—was not. It was a great victory for Thiel, but, according to a friend of his, he wasn’t gloating; the friend told me Thiel worried that the ruling might not survive an appeal. Barring a settlement, that was where the history of the case would be written, and Thiel recognized, his friend said, that the case was hardly “a slam, slam, slam dunk.” Two months after the March 2016 verdict, Thiel was outed a second time, when Forbes identified him as Hogan’s sugar daddy. That night, Denton again e-mailed Thiel, but, thinking an intermediary was called for, sent it via Keith Rabois. “If Peter or anybody representing him wants to talk, my line is open,” Denton wrote Rabois. “It’s still not too late to resolve this without further damage to everyone’s reputation.” He said he was sorry for any embarrassment Thiel had suffered from the outing story, but that it had been written “when gay people were invisible or marginal in Silicon Valley, and some of us refused to go along with the omerta.” Far from being moved, the next day Thiel described Gawker to Andrew Ross Sorkin of The New York Times as a “singularly terrible bully,” and called helping Hogan and other Gawker “victims” one of the “greater philanthropic things” he’d ever done. Denton quickly posted an “open letter” to Thiel on Gawker. “I thought we had all moved on,” he wrote, “not realizing that, for someone who aspires to immortality, nine years may not be such a long time as it seems to most of us.” He then called for a “brief truce,” during which the two might hold a public debate or something similar. Thiel never responded. But with Jeremy Stoppelman, the C.E.O. of Yelp, acting as

go-between, Denton and Thiel finally had their secret tête-à-tête. It appears to have accomplished nothing.

T

hiel and Harder continued to go after Denton and Daulerio, seeking to track down and tie up their assets. Hogan’s lawyers, and some embittered Gawker alums, suspected that Denton stashed away funds in Budapest or the Cayman Islands, but he says it isn’t so. (Two other Gawker journalists, Sam Biddle and John Cook, faced allegations in a pair of other lawsuits being handled by Charles Harder, which Thiel may or may not have also funded. Those cases, too, are covered by the proposed settlement, with the plaintiffs collecting damages in exchange for dropping their cases.) Denton and Daulerio vowed to fight on, and the prospects for an appeal—funded by proceeds from the Univision sale—looked good. Apart from strong First Amendment arguments, it was hard to believe that anyone who boasted to Howard Stern, as well as to others, about his sexual habits, about the size of his penis and where he likes to ejaculate and how he uses his mustache during oral sex, as Hogan did, should have elicited much sympathy in claiming invasion of privacy. (By discussing his sexuality ad nauseam, the argument goes, Hogan made it a matter of public interest.) Then there is all of that evidence that Judge Campbell—the most reversed trial judge in her district—excluded. It’s also hard to agree, with respect to calculating damages, that all 7,057,214 people who viewed nine seconds of Hogan sex for free would have plopped down $4.95 for the privilege. But with the settlement, none of this will matter. If it goes through, and Denton is sprung from bankruptcy, he stands to collect roughly one-third of what remains after Hogan, Denton’s investors, and those former Gawker employees with equity stakes in the company, are paid off. One reasonable estimate is around $15 million—vastly lower than what he was once worth, but still within striking distance of what Arianna Huffington got when she sold her eponymous Web site. It should be enough to spare Denton having to sell his loft (on the market for $4.25 million), followed by Soviet-style internal exile to New York’s Upper West Side. By year’s end, he should be able once more to pick up restaurant checks, and his plans to start a family, shelved during the Hogan imbroglio, presumably can be revived. Not once since the Gawker sale has he returned to Gawker’s old office, nor did he read any of the postmortems. Nor, he insists, will he read this story. He did, however, read, and react to, some of what Thiel said at his press conference on October 31: that Gawker’s reporters were “not journalH OLIDAY

2016/2017


HA I R A N D M A KE UP BY B RYO NY BL A KE

Spotlight ists” (“No one person, no matter how rich, should get to decide who’s a journalist”); that Gawker was a “flimsy” business (it had made money until Thiel came along); that it went after “small fry” (“Thiel is not ‘small fry.’ Nor is Hulk Hogan”); and that Daulerio was an “aspiring child pornographer”— a reference to an ill-advised but clearly flippant remark that Daulerio had made during his deposition. “Despicable,” Denton says, “remarkably tabloid for someone who sets himself up as a guardian of journalistic integrity.” “Interesting—and scary” is how he describes Thiel. Still, Denton maintains that his differences with him are more philosophical than personal, and bigger than either of them. They reflect, he says, a battle between two groups of people—the control freaks of Silicon Valley and the buccaneering bloggers that their technology unleashed—and two notions of freedom: one in which you can be free only when you’re yourself in public, and another in which you’re free only when you can protect yourself from, well, gawkers. Gawker, Denton says, “emitted vast quantities of truth into the ether,” and redefined journalism in the Internet age. He even takes partial credit for another kind of outing—of a presidential candidate. “When I see the forthrightness with which mainstream newspapers called Trump out for lying, I see echoes of the blogs—the realization that ‘Hey, this thing is so obvious, it’s in front of us, we can’t pretend this doesn’t exist,’” he says. “You can’t be so constrained by convention that you fail in your central obligation to say what you see. And Gawker was the fiercest of the blogs.” He’s proudest not of the marquee stories everyone rattles off—not so many, to be honest, given the hundreds of thousands that it did—but all the unmemorable ones, with their “humdrum honesty.” He’s also proud of what Gawker didn’t do, and, despite the criticism that leaves it unmourned in many quarters, defiant about its achievements and methods. “We didn’t get anyone into any wars, we didn’t ruin anyone’s life, we didn’t get taken in by fabrication or plagiarism,” he says. “With hundreds of young, talented, but sometimes inexperienced writers, you’d have expected some major journalistic malpractice. Never happened.” His Zen attitude is at the core of what comes next for him: building Kinja, a community of commentators through which Denton hopes to redefine journalism yet again. “I’ve always wanted news just to be a conversation, where the interactions between journalists and sources and subjects and tipsters play out in a more symmetrical fashion, so that the journalist doesn’t have a complete monopoly on what gets included and what not,” he explains. “I’ve done the truth. Now I want to do the reconciliation.”  HO L I DAY 2 016 / 2 017

GILLIAN’S RAINBOW

A

t some point in the last year or so, Gillian Anderson has moved from the status of a wonderfully versatile actress to a national treasure in both the United States and Britain, where she has lived since 2002. Now 48 and the mother of three children, Anderson is still as spookily beautiful as she was when she first appeared as agent Dana Scully in The X-Files, in 1993. Age has brought a singular authority that comes as much from her self-possession as from her experience and native talent. Anyone who saw the heart-rending and chilling madness of her performance in A Streetcar Named Desire, which played on both sides of the Atlantic and won her an Olivier Award nomination last year, will know Anderson is capable of the greatest artistic achievement. The infinite variety of her roles, whether as Stella Gibson in three seasons of the BBC’s The Fall on Netflix or as Media in the forthcoming American Gods or again as Scully in the rebooted X-Files, is overwhelming. And on top of all of this, the third novel in her successful, co-authored EarthEnd Saga was published in the fall. Perhaps her greatest recent appearance was not really a performance. At a memorial in Gillian Anderson, Trafalgar Square, London, for Jo Cox, the Labour M.P. slain in Britdrawn from ain’s year of madness, she read Dorothy Oger’s 2016 poem “I life at Claridge’s Shall Stand for Love” and invested it with all the mature principles of hotel in London, — HENRY P ORTER a thoroughly decent person. in March. PO RT RA IT

BY

DAVID DOWNTON

115


PORTFOLIOO

Donald TRUMP & Hillaryy CLINTON Because, love ’em or ha ate ’em, they are the magnetic poles of this polarizing year. Theirs was a clash of titans pitting woman power versus male prerogative, pantsuit versus panty-raider. On November 8, the Day of Decision, our long national nightmare was supposed to end and our long national healing to begin, but the voters had other ideas.

the

HALL of FAME

2 016

T

In a year with apocalyptic overtones, there were those who provided hope. JAMES WOLCOTT raises a glass to them

he pop of the champagne cork to celebrate the Times Square ball drop for 2017 can’t come soon enough. Two thousand sixteen is a leap year, with an extra day tacked onto February, but it has felt a lot longer than that. The year didn’t leap so much as crawl under a heavy bombardment of bad headlines. It seemed as if the graveyard shift would nevv er end. “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper,” the band

HO L I DAY 2 016 / 2 017

I L L U STR ATION

BY

BARRY BLITT

Blue Öyster Cult ominously crooned in that most sinister of lullabies, but how could we not fear the dark cowl in 2016, so busy was his scythe, so prominent and beloved his victims? (See the “In Memoriam” section to pay respects.) The big picture offered no consoling perspective. It was only four years ago that the world was supposed to T E X T C O N T I N U E S O N P A G E 11 9 , I N S I D E F O L D O U T

VAN IT Y

FAIR

117


PORTFOLIO undergo a tectonic-plate-cracking, kraken-releasing cataclysm, according to the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar. But 2012 came and went without a hitch in its step, foiling the doomsday preppers. Maybe the calendar was simply off by a few earth orbits, because 2016 has had all the trimmings of apocaa lypse: earthquakes, drought, floods, plagues (the Zika virus), civil unrest, the relentless beating sun of global warming, and, of course, the end of Brangelina. Even escapist entertainment has offered little escape from the daily flak. The fab four female revival of Ghostbusters, which should have been a summ mer lark, got bogged down in culture-wars crossfire as nerd boys of all ages went on a keyboard rampage. Digital vigilantism runs wild down the oddest avenues. Two thousand sixteen is also an election year, which only jacked up the End Times jitters. Instead of a quadrennial jousting tourr nament between two major parties, the presi-i dential campaign devolved into a species of pathology. It wasn’t the traditional spectacle of patriotic bunting and dueling policy proposals but a nationwide, free-floating anxiety attack conducting an alien invasion of our imaginations. “Around half of people surr veyed (52 percent) say the election ‘is a very or somewhat significant’ source of stress in their lives,” wrote Brian Resnick at Vox, citing data from an American Psychological Association report. Thank God the cable-news punditry and the online peanut gallery were on the job 25 hours a day to put vital devel-l opments, no matter how trivial, into warped perspective and make matters worse. Yet every year has its redeeming events and individuals, and even this monster mash sprinkled enough grace notes to keep hope alive on a respirator. Giving the Nobel Prize in Literature to gravel-gargling, genius magpie troubadour Bob Dylan—that certainly woke everyone up and gave baby-boomers a B12 injection, although the Bobster himself played possum at first, initially giving the Nobel jury the Greta Garbo treatment from inside his personal space-time bubble before acknowledging the honor. Perennial prospective Nobel candidate, the novelist Philip Roth, announced the donation of his personal library to the Newark Public Library, a gesture of literary citizenship worth saluting. Breaking an ancient Egyptian curse, the Chi-i cago Cubs won the World Series (yea, Cubbies!), their first appearance in the October classic since 1945. Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly dispatching Newt Gingrich into the ozone to work on his anger issues was a great moment in television—the elegant kiss-off his blustery “mansplaining” deserved. Villains may periodically dominate the stage, but there are always heroes in the wings, awaiting their cues. And so, lights up, meet the all-star cast of Vanity Fair’s Hall of Fame for 2016. CONTINUED

119

VA NI T Y

FROM

FA I R

PAGE

IN MEMORIAM M

117

www.vanityfair.com

Muhammad Ali, photographed by Philippe Halsman in 1963.

Harper Lee, photographed by Donald Uhrbrock in 1961.

H O L IDAY

2016/2017


Arnold Palmer, photographed by Bob Gomel in 1963.

David Bowie, photographed by Sukita in 1972.

F OR C R E D ITS , S E E PAG E 18 9

Nancy Reagan, photographed by Douglas Kirkland in 1980.


Morley Safer, photographed by Patrick D. Pagnano in 1982.

Patty Duke, 1967.

Bill Cunningham, photographed by Arthur Elgort in 2003.

Patty Duke 19tk-2016.


Gordie Howe, photographed by William N. Jacobellis in 1968.

Elie Wiesel, photographed by William Coupon in 1985. Prince, photographed by Rob Verhorst in 1995.

Zaha Hadid, photographed by Marco Grob in 2010. HOLIDAY 2 016 /2 017

PHO T O GR A PH S C ON T I N U E ON PAGE 125

122


PORTFOLIO

Megyn

KELLY HA IR PROD U C TS BY R & CO. ; MAK E U P PROD U CTS BY L A NC ÔME ; NA I L E NA ME L BY D IO R; HA IR BY G AR R E N ; MA K E UP BY T YRON MACHHAUS E N; MA N IC U R E BY TAT YAN A MO LOT; SE T D E S IG N BY M ARY HOWA R D STU D IO; F OR D E TAI LS , G O TO V F. COM/ C R E DI TS

Because in the molten aftermath of the upheaval at Fox News that saw its founder, Roger Ailes, wheelbarrowed out the door and Sean Hannity become Donald Trump’s marionette, Megyn Kelly, host of The Kelly File and author of the bombshell memoir Settle for More (Harper), remained icily impervious and immaculately composed, a Hitchcock blonde unrattled even by Trump’s dripping-fang slurs, establishing herself as Fox News’s diamond star. Cross her at your peril. HOLIDAY 2 016 /2 017

P H OTO G R A P H BY PAT R I C K ST Y L E D BY J E S S I C

DEMARCHELIER A DIEHL

VA NIT Y

FAI R

125


PORTFOLIO

Lonnie G.

BUNCH III Because “Build it and they will come” isn’t just a Hollywood invocation. On September 24, the

Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture opened in

126

VAN IT Y

FA IR

P H OTO GRA PH

BY

PL ATON

ST YLE D BY MATTH E W MA R D E N; G ROOMI N G BY ME R E D ITH BA R AF ; F OR D E TA IL S, G O TO VF. COM/ C R E DI TS

Washington, D.C., with a dedication address delivered by President Obama. The tireless force and principal mover who made this dream happen? Founding director Lonnie G. Bunch III, an educator and historian who raised the money and awareness to give AfricanAmerican heritage the curatorial glory it deserves. Result: advance sellout crowds—almost as hot a ticket as Hamilton!


PORTFOLIO

Lin-Manuel

MIRANDA

G ROOMI NG PROD U C TS BY MA LIN & G OE TZ ; G RO OMIN G BY BI RG ITT E ; F OR D E TA ILS , G O TO V F. COM/ C R E D ITS

Because no lord this year was higher a-leaping. Not since Gore Vidal published his novel Burr have the Founding Fathers received a hotfoot like the one given by Hamilton, the hip-hop musical, written by and starring the unquenchably talented Lin-Manuel Miranda, which tucked Broadway in its fob pocket—a critical and popular smash that earned a ton of Tony Awards, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and a cast performance at the White House. His rocket’s red glare shows no signs of diminishing.

128

VAN IT Y

FA IR

P H OTO G R A P H

BY

MACKENZIE STROH

H O L IDAY

2016/ 2017


PORTFOLIO

Simone

BILES ST YLE D BY JU STI N D . K E N N E DY; HA I R PROD U C TS BY B UMBL E A N D BU MBL E ; MAK E UP PRO D UC TS BY TATA HA R PE R ; HA IR A N D MA K E UP BY C A SE Y G OUV E IA ; SE T D E S IG N BY MATT HE W DAVI D SON; PROD U C E D ON L OC ATI ON BY TOD D DA N A ; F OR DE TAI LS , G O TO V F. COM/ C R E DI TS

Because she stuck her landing like a superhero. Remember the grim prophecies over what a dystopian nightmare the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro might be? It was anything but, the joyous spectacle and afterglow of the Games lofted by the cannonball power, agility, and high-def personality of gymnast Simone Biles, who won four gold medals and became the most decorated U.S. female gymnast in Olympic history. Her floor exercise alone was an acrobatic classic. Only four feet eight, Biles stands giant-tall in the sports annals. HOLIDAY 2 016 /2 017

P H OTO GRA PH

BY

SAM JONES

VA NIT Y

FAI R

129


PORTFOLIO

Because as they prepare to fly into the sunset, we echo the cry of Brandon de Wilde at the end of Shane: “Come back!” Barack Obama’s loping elegance, grace under pressure, pinpoint humor, and Jedi dedication to reason, excellence, and democratic values in the face of economic collapse in 2008, a racist scavenger hunt for his birth certificate, and eight years of conservative obstruction will acquire a storybook aura for presidential historians. Featuring a First Lady whose strength, passion,

and oratorical power conferred honor on us all. Admit it, America: we lucked out with the Obamas. We can only hope that, post-Obamas, our luck hasn’t run out. 130

VAN IT Y

FA IR

H O L IDAY

2016/ 2017

PHOTOG R AP H BY Y UR I G R IPAS / COR BI S/ G E TT Y I MAGE S

The OBAMAS


LAST CALL

2016

F OR T H E K E Y T O W HO I S W HO, T U R N T O PAGE 181

8:00 The punctilious Khans, Khizr and Ghazala, arrive on time, invitation in hand. 8:13 Mistaking the event for a costume party, Roger Ailes and Gretchen Carlson enact one of his favorite fantasies and arrive as Jabba the Hutt and Princess Leia. 8:59 Misdirected by a special version of Pokémon Go customized for players hoping to reconstitute the Soviet empire, Vladimir Putin wanders in and spies mutualadmiration-society co-founder Donald Trump, who is loudly calling attention to himself by inviting guests to go furniture shopping with him. 9:04 Suspecting a better party at Robin Roberts’s pad, Michael Strahan ghosts his date, Kelly Ripa, leaving her to make small talk with other suddenly solo acts Angelina Jolie, Huma Abedin, and Alex 134

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

Rodriguez. 9:13 Loaded with benjamins earned from Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda seeks investment advice from mogul Rupert Murdoch, who gazes into the eyes of Jerry Hall and tells him to put all his money into supermodels. 10:01 Trump ladies collide. “Now that the election’s over,” says Melania to Ivanka, “keep your hands off your father.” 10:08 At the potluck table, the Great British Bake-Off judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood summarily dismiss Anthony Weiner’s spongy spotted dick but praise the saucy lemonade buns of Beyoncé, who becomes distracted when she overhears her lyrics “Sorry, I ain’t sorry, I ain’t thinking ’bout you” being sung by the sullied C.E.O. trio of Martin Shkreli, of Retrophin, Elizabeth Holmes, of Theranos, H OLIDAY

2016/2 017


and John Stumpf, formerly of Wells Fargo. 10:48 Ryan Lochte, of the U.S. Bathroom-Door Removal Team, gets to work on the powderroom portal, exposing a casual chat between Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch. 11:05 Carrying a basket of s’morables, curse-crushing Cubs fan Hillary Clinton heads for her own rendezvous with destiny, only to stumble over an unexpectedly kneeling Colin Kaepernick, sending the basket aloft. Fortunately it is intercepted by a drone piloted by Tom Hanks, who attempts to land his craft on the surface of the punch bowl, at least until he spies Katie Ledecky, taking one more celebratory dip in the sangria. 11:19 Trump doctor Harold “Keep On Truckin’ ” Bornstein performs an instant physical on Sean Hannity and unequivHO L IDAY 2 016 / 2 017

I L L U STR ATIO N

ocally declares him the healthiest individual ever to kowtow to President-Elect Trump, though at the same time the doc suggests that if Mr. Hannity is ever going to recover the use of his lips he will need to have them surgically removed from Mr. Trump’s rump. 11:46 In her cups, the Zika mosquito snubs EpiPen profiteer Heather Bresch. “I stick people because it’s my nature,” it sneers. “You do it to make money.” 11:55 Returning to obscurity, Ken Bone encounters thatch-roofed livery driver Boris Johnson, who explains his special Brexit car service: “We leave, but we don’t know where we’re going.” 11:59 Boom! What’s that? Another prime-time Matt Lauer interview crashing to earth? No, no, just Baby 2017, eager to begin.  BY

BARRY BLITT

VAN IT Y

FAIR

135


Star Witho In a mere six years, Jennifer Lawrence has blazed past every marker of Hollywood stardom, with no sign of slowing down: this month’s science-fiction romance, Passengers, will be followed by movies with Steven Spielberg, Adam McKay, and Darren Aronofsky. In unreal circumstances, Lawrence is learning to assert herself as a real person, JULIE MILLER learns, whether that means equal pay, privacy, or never being a bridesmaid again

S

ALL BUSINESS

F OR DE TA IL S, G O TO V F. COM /C RE D I TS

Jennifer Lawrence, photographed at the Studios at Paramount, in Hollywood. LAWRENCE WEARS A GOWN BY DIOR; STOLE BY FRANCESCO SCOGNAMIGLIO; HAIR PRODUCTS BY KÉRASTASE PARIS; MAKEUP PRODUCTS AND NAIL ENAMEL BY DIOR.

S

136

P H OTOG R AP H S

BY

PETER LINDBERGH

ST Y LED

BY

JESSICA DIEHL


ut a Script

VA NIT Y

FAI R

137


he bar of the Plaza Athénée, an elegant Upper East Side hotel, is empty save for an elderly French couple sipping Bordeaux at two P.M. when in bursts a tall blonde crackling with energy. It is Jennifer Lawrence, wearing a black cashmere sweater, jeans ripped at the knee, and black boots, her platinum hair chopped into a chic bob. Delicate gold jewelry circles her wrists, neck, and fingers, and her most pronounced accessory, a security team, looms nearby. She orders tea and explains, “I am playing a ballerina in my next movie so my first step is not drinking alcohol for every meal of the day. Obviously I’m still drinking every day,” she adds, in the same engaging, infectious manner America has come to love. While most millennials are navigating student debt and entrylevel employment, Lawrence, who turned 26 in August, hasn’t so much achieved the Hollywood dream as crushed and re-invented it by blazing an unprecedented career trajectory. In the past five years, she has won an Oscar (in 2013, for Silver Linings Playbook), earned three additional nominations (for Winter’s Bone, American Hustle, and Joy), collected three Golden Globes, gone full superhero in the $4-billion-grossing X-Men series, and fronted the nearly $3-billion-grossing Hunger Games franchise. With her next film, Passengers, Sony’s science-fiction romance, opening December 21, Lawrence has joined Julia Roberts in an elite league of actresses who have commanded $20 million for a movie. (Lawrence will also reportedly receive 30 percent of the film’s profits after it breaks even.) While Roberts reached this paycheck peak when she was 32 (for Erin Brockovich), Lawrence has already done so, a mere six years after skyrocketing out of obscurity. (For additional perspective, Passengers marks Lawrence’s 20th film, while Meryl Streep did not appear onscreen in a feature film until she was 28.) With her franchises behind her, Lawrence has lined up a flurry of roles to fill the next GUIDING STAR chapter of her career: the aforementioned “I just dropped my jaw and Russian ballerina (turned spy) in Red Sparrow, cried,” she says of directed by The Hunger Games filmmaker meeting an idol, Francis Lawrence; war photographer Lynsey Paul McCartney. Addario in It’s What I Do, directed by Steven LAWRENCE WEARS Spielberg; and Elizabeth Holmes, the controA GOWN BY versial founder of the scandal-plagued Silicon ARMANI PRIVÉ. Valley health-technology company Theranos, in Bad Blood, written and directed by Adam

S

138

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

F OR D E TAI LS , G O TO VF. COM/ C R E D ITS

S


139


F

“She’s a Boss”

or Lawrence, the jarring juxtapositions—between real person and unreal circumstances—are softened by the fact that she has made good friends in the business, such as Emma Stone, who understand Hollywood’s inherently bizarre pressures. Lawrence and Stone met via mutual co-star Woody Harrelson, who appeared with Lawrence in The Hunger Games and with Stone in Zombieland and predicted their compatibility. “She

texted me that she got my number from Woody,” Lawrence says. “I replied, ‘Fuck off!’ And we’ve been really good friends WORDS AND BONDS “I know we’d be ever since.” The two of them texted every friends,” Emma day for a year after that. “I feel like it was Stone says, “even our version of The Notebook—365 texts.” if we didn’t do the same job.” The friendship—between two actresses two years apart in age, presumably in contenLAWRENCE WEARS tion for similar roles—transcends the ugly A GOWN BY VALENTINO HAUTE stereotypes of an industry infamous for COUTURE. pitting females against one another. “I love my job,” Lawrence says. “I don’t know what I would be without acting. So if there is someone who loves the same thing, it should bring us closer. But it depends on how that person is, and Emma is so normal and lovely.” This past October, while supporting Stone at a screening of La La Land, Lawrence said, “If I wasn’t her biggest fan, I would’ve Tonya Harding’d her in the kneecaps.” “She may not even know this,” Stone wrote me in an e-mail, “but there was definitely a time early on when I was like ‘OH HEY MY EGO IS GOING NUTS SHE’S SO GREAT AND VIBRANT AND TALENTED I’M SCREWED I’LL NEVER WORK AGAIN GOODBYE YELLOW BRICK ROAD.’ Then I chilled the fuck out—and remembered we’re completely different and there is room for everyone, even if it’s an industry that doesn’t really seem to support that idea up front.” She went on: “We both really do love each other and care about each other as people, beyond being actors. I support her completely when it comes to work and I feel the same from her, but I know we’d be friends even if we didn’t do the same job.” Lawrence is also loyal to her close friends outside the industry and makes time to celebrate their personal milestones. “All of my friends are getting married and having babies,” she says, revealing one role that she will absolutely never reprise. “Weddings rock, but I will never be a bridesmaid again,” says the four-time survivor. “There needs to be a bridesmaids’ union. It’s horrendous. If anyone asks me again, I’m going to say, ‘No. That part of my life is over. I appreciate the ask.’ If I do ever get married, I don’t think I will have bridesmaids. How can I rank my friends?” Not that she would have the time to plan a wedding if it were on her radar. Lawrence—whose longest relationship was with X-Men co-star Nicholas Hoult—currently seems more focused on professional, rather than romantic, collaborations. As for children, Lawrence’s maternal focus right now is her small brown dog, Pippi Longstocking. Last Christmas, Lawrence’s mother commissioned a portrait of Pippi from a 14-year-old fan of Lawrence’s in New Zealand. At first, the actress hung the portrait in her Los Angeles home only when her mom visited before realizing, “Fuck it. I am the person who has an acrylic painting of her dog,” and proudly showcased it above her fireplace. “I am a psychotic dog mom in a way that I am genuinely embarrassed about. If I could put her

S

S

“I DON’T LIKE WAKING UP WITH NOTHING TO DO,” LAWRENCE SAYS. 140

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

H OLIDAY

2016/2 017

HA I R BY O DI L E GI L BE RT; MA KE UP BY F ULV IA FA RO LF I ; MA N I CUR E BY J E NNA HI P P; SE T DE SI G N BY CO LI N DO NA H UE; PRO DUCE D ON L O CAT I O N BY A N T HO NY GR A NE R I; F O R DE TA I LS , GO TO V F.CO M /CR E DI TS

McKay. She also has a role in Mother, a home-invasion horror movie directed by Darren Aronofsky, which was shot last summer in Montreal. “I don’t like waking up with nothing to do or going to sleep without accomplishing anything,” Lawrence says. “That really depresses me.” She had her big breakout role at the age of nine, when she played a prostitute from Nineveh in a church play in her native Louisville, Kentucky. Lawrence was so unexpectedly convincing—“swinging her booty and strutting her stuff,” her mother has said—that family friends told her parents, “We don’t know if we should congratulate you or not, because your kid’s a great prostitute.” Five years later, Lawrence was discovered by a modeling scout and was so eager to embark on her career that she left high school early with a G.E.D. and moved to New York. Having reportedly banked $46 million last year—making her the highest-paid actress two years in a row—Lawrence is a long way from the horse farm where she was raised by her mother (a children’s-camp manager) and father (the owner of a contracting business), along with two older brothers. She is still a typical twentysomething in some ways, but with some extraordinary caveats. She is obsessed with Beyoncé’s Lemonade, for example, but receives texts referencing the lyric “Becky with the good hair” from David O. Russell, her three-time director (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle, Joy). “I mentioned the album and he just wanted me to know that he listened and cares.” She also met Beyoncé herself and verifies that, in person, the superstar “looks like she was sent directly from heaven.” She watches Real Housewives but texts executive producer Andy Cohen with feedback. (She produces her phone from a black purse to recite her last mobile missive to him: “Please somehow get this to the Real Housewives of O.C.: Shannon, your mother-in-law is a dirty bastard and you are completely right. Meghan, you have got to stop apologizing—these women are better at arguing than you. Sincerely, Jennifer’s period.”) She is occasionally struck by insecurity and calls Paris Fashion Week “the most intimidating time to be alive. You get ready in your hotel and you’re like, ‘I look awesome.’ Then you walk outside, see the outfits and people who are like seven feet tall, and are like, ‘I am a piece of garbage. I’m not going out anymore.’ ” But, having worked with Dior since 2012, she manages to get through it. She worships the usual icons, but, more and more, they approach her, as Paul McCartney did to compliment her dancing to “Live and Let Die” in American Hustle. “I don’t think I spoke back,” she says. “I just dropped my jaw and cried.”


141


142

FOR DE TA IL S, G O TO V F. COM /C RE D I TS


inside me and give birth to her I would.” Because of this, Lawrence jokes that having actual children “would be dangerous. My kids would be incredibly jealous because I would still be way more attentive to Pippi than I would to them.”

T

hese days, Pippi and Lawrence are constantly on the move—recently traveling together to Montreal to film the Aronofsky movie with Michelle Pfeiffer, Ed Harris, and Javier Bardem. Lawrence had been wanting to work with the Black Swan filmmaker, so when he pitched her the project, still without a script, she immediately accepted. (“He is a visionary,” she says.) It was in Montreal that she absentmindedly fed Pippi a sparerib, which required an emergency vet run. This fall, Lawrence flew to Africa to shadow photojournalist Lynsey Addario as she documented South Sudanese refugees crossing into Uganda. Although the experience offered her a rare veil of anonymity (when introducing herself to a U.N. worker as Jennifer, he replied, “Ahhh, like Jennifer Lopez”), she was haunted by her uselessness. “The worst feeling about being there was that I wasn’t helping anybody,” she says of the humanitarian crisis. “I was doing a character study.” (Lawrence is also a producer on It’s What I Do, the Spielberg film based on Addario’s memoir.) Lawrence, who has donated generously to a number of charities (including $2 million to a children’s hospital in her hometown this year), said she found solace in vowing to visit again in a more active role. And Pippi joined Lawrence in Atlanta, Georgia, for Passengers, a big-budget project she tried, at first, to resist. “My plan was to do a few more years of indies and remind people and myself how I started,” Lawrence says, referring to Winter’s Bone, her 2010 breakout, which earned her her first Oscar nod, at 19. Then she read the screenplay, by Jon Spaihts (Ridley Scott’s Prometheus). “I wanted to say no, but I kept coming back to it.” Directed by the Oscar-nominated Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game), the reportedly $150 million movie stars Lawrence and Chris Pratt as a journalist and engineer who leave their earthly lives to journey to a distant @vf.com To watch Jennifer colony. Due to a mechanical malfunction, both Lawrence characters wake up about 30 years into the 120play QUESTION ROULETTE, year voyage and struggle to survive while hurgo to VF.COM/ tling through space. The co-stars share several HOLIDAY2016/2017. love scenes that spark—an on-screen electricity Lawrence says was easily summoned, since her co-star “could have chemistry with a cactus.” Lawrence got along with Pratt’s wife (Anna Faris, star of the CBS sitcom Mom) as well, appearing on her toprated podcast, Unqualified, and forming a “spin-off friendship” with her. “I think women can sense if you are the kind of woman who is going to run off with their husband,” Lawrence explains. “I don’t think I give off that vibe. I give off the ‘Please like me!’ desperaSTEP LIVELY tion. Which is not threatening.” “Jen is the most in-tune person As for Pratt, she says, “He is a ray of I’ve ever met,” sunshine. We had to have a talk about his says The Hunger good moods at four in the morning, when Games director he was encouraging the crew and I’m Francis Lawrence. like the Grinch. I came on set like, ‘No LAWRENCE WEARS more smiling. No more dancing.’ ” Pratt A DRESS BY ALBERTA FERRETTI; laughed when I raised the subject. “Jen EARRINGS BY VAN is really tuned into her emotions,” he told CLEEF & ARPELS. me. “If she’s mad, she’ll let you know. She is very clear in her C O N T I N U E D O N P A G E 1 8 6

S

S

www.vanityfair.com

VAN IT Y

FAIR

143


144

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

P H OTO G R A PH

BY

JOSEPH SYWENKYJ

H OLIDAY

2016/2 017


INVADING APPLE What if a government could wirelessly control any iPhone? Last summer, a University of California grad student named Bill Marczak stumbled across a piece of spyware that would do just that. Probing a new arena of cyber-warfare, in which shadowy firms sell spyware to repressive regimes such as those in Bahrain, Egypt, and Uganda, BRYAN BURROUGH reveals the details of the hack that shocked Apple and security experts worldwide

UP-TO-DATA Security specialist and Ph.D. candidate Max Bazaliy, at his home, in Kiev, Ukraine.

HO L IDAY 2 016 / 2 017

www.vanityfair.com

VAN IT Y

FAIR

145


It is exceedingly rare to find a never-before-seen vulnerability that allows a hacker to infiltrate the operating system of a computer or mobile phone. Amazingly, the program Marczak had found would be shown to target not one, not two, but three such vulnerabilities. “Every new line of code, it was like, ‘Oh shit, this can’t be,’ ” Blaich recalls. “ ‘Oh shit. Oh shit.’ It just went on and on.” By nightfall, the two engineers were staring in disbelief. “This can spy on audio, e-mail, text messages … everything. Someone spent a lot of time creating this,” Blaich said. Bazaliy, a purist, thought it the most beautiful code he had ever seen. “There’s never been anything like this before,” he said.

T he night it happened, right after midnight on August 10, Bill Marczak and his girlfriend were staying up late to watch Star Trek reruns in their spare one-bedroom apartment, in El Cerrito, California, just north of the University of California at Berkeley campus. A trim Ph.D. candidate with dense brown hair and a disciplined beard, Marczak wasn’t just another excitable, fast-talking Berkeley grad student. He was a pioneering analyst in a new and unusual theater of cyber-warfare: the struggle between Middle Eastern freedom activists and authoritarian governments in countries such as Bahrain and Egypt. He was also a senior fellow at Citizens Lab, the University of Toronto “interdisciplinary laboratory” that had almost single-handedly discovered and alerted the world to how these governments were monitoring dissidents with spyware quietly marketed by a group of shadowy European and Israeli companies that have been labeled the first “cyber-arms dealers.” Before going to sleep, Marczak, always a tad obsessive, rolled out of bed to check his phone for messages. He was standing there in his boxer shorts when he saw it. “Oh my God,” he exclaimed, hopping up and down with excitement, his bright eyes shining even brighter than usual. Across the bed, his girlfriend wondered, “What is it?” “I think I just found something huge,” he answered, before kissing her and going into the living room, where he opened his laptop. When his girlfriend woke the next morning, he was still there. Marczak had indeed found “something huge.” An activist friend in the United Arab Emirates had sent him an e-mail containing a single Internet link, which Marczak was almost certain would, if clicked, release malignant spyware into his mobile phone. He managed to isolate a portion of its code, but it was so complex he decided to forward a copy across San Francisco Bay to engineers at a computer-security outfit called Lookout, whose offices high in a downtown skyscraper afforded panoramic views from the Golden Gate Bridge to Oakland. A pair of Lookout engineers, Andrew Blaich, a sandy-haired mobile-security specialist, and Max Bazaliy, an intense grad student from the Ukraine, were the first at the company to study the heavily obfuscated code. “What do you think it is?” Blaich asked. “I don’t know. Something really, really bad,” Bazaliy answered in his thick Ukrainian accent. It took all day for the two to realize just how bad. 146

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

here was a time, a few years back, when the most sophisticated cyber-warfare tools were still developed and used exclusively by the world’s most sophisticated cyber-warfare combatants: government spy agencies, such as the ultra-secret National Security Agency and its counterparts in Israel and other developed countries and their arch-rivals in China and Russia. The surveillance and monitoring capabilities that Edward Snowden unveiled to the world in 2013 were shocking and little understood, but an ordinary citizen could at least take comfort in the belief that, if he wasn’t a criminal or a spy, it was unlikely these tools would ever be used against him. That was then. Ever since Snowden, and even before, experts in cyber-security have watched warily as a handful of obscure companies launched efforts to replicate and sell weaponized “government-grade” spyware to the highest bidders. The ultimate prize, security experts knew, was the ability to hack remotely into the digital brains of the world’s most popular hardware—the desktops, laptops, tablets, and especially the mobile phones made by Apple. And not just break into Apple devices but actually take control of them. It was a hacker’s dream: the ability to monitor a user’s communications in real time and also to turn on his microphone and record his conversations. Programmers call this ultimate hack a “jailbreak.” Doing it with wires and cables is not unheard of. Once or twice a year someone, typically an attention-seeking hacker or computer-security start-up, will announce finding a vulnerability in the Apple operating system that allows a jailbreak. Apple, usually within weeks, issues a “patch” to fix it. Just two weeks before Marczak and the engineers at Lookout encountered the strange new code, a Chinese company named Pangu had announced a “tethered” jailbreak—one employing wires and cables—for Apple mobile operating systems between 9.2 and 9.3.3. It was the first “public” jailbreak released by anyone in five months. But for those interested in hacking Apple devices, the holy grail has long been a remote jailbreak, that is, one done wirelessly, from across the street or around the world. Only one is known to have ever been created, a tool called jailbreakme, first released in 2007; that, however, required a willing user and hasn’t been updated since 2010. In September 2015 a little-known company named Zerodium made waves in Silicon Valley by announcing it would pay a $1 million “bounty” to anyone who brought it an actual remote jailbreak. Two months later, without divulging what it intended to do next, Zerodium announced that someone had claimed the bounty. Then, last August, came the startling confirmation from Apple itself: a genuine remote jailbreak “in the wild,” the one discovered and identified by Marczak and the Lookout researchers. To everyone’s surprise it had been out there operating secretly for years. “This is a James Bond story,” says Mike Murray, Lookout’s vice president of security research and response, a curly-haired 40-yearH OLIDAY

2016/2 017


old salesman type who formerly headed product-development security at G.E. “The guys who did this are James Bond villains, evil arms dealers attacking dissidents in the real world. It’s real. It’s true. This is finding cyber-weapons being used against someone in the real world. Before, people only suspected this might be out there.” “It’s kind of like a stealth bomber,” says Lookout security researcher Seth Hardy, an intense, well-known former hacker. “It’s one thing to know they exist. It’s an entirely different thing to have one crash into your backyard.”

I

What Happens in Vegas

n the beginning, back in the 1980s and early 1990s, there were computer hackers, mostly hobbyists, who attracted a lot of media attention by sneaking into the innards of government and corporate computers and running up and down their digital hallways unseen. It was, with some notable exceptions, viewed as harmless fun. That began to change in 1993, when a group of hacker pals put together an impromptu convention of sorts in Las Vegas, on a weekend in late July or August, when hotel rates were the lowest. Called DefCon, a nod to a favorite hacker movie, WarGames, it grew every year and soon earned a reputation as an uproarious affair, featuring such shenanigans as pouring laundry soap into swimming pools and hacking A.T.M.’s. By the late 1990s a few curious government people began appearing. It became a kind of game: organizers held a “Spot the Fed” contest, and if a claimant turned out to be right, he got an “I spotted the Fed” T-shirt. With the rise of online commerce, corporate types also became curious about what these hackers could do with their own and other people’s computers. As a result, several computer-security companies sprang up and began hosting a companion convention called Black Hat, “built by and for the global InfoSec community … [featuring] four days of intense trainings for security practitioners of all levels.” “The arrival of specialized computer-security companies who exhibited at Black Hat was a milestone,” says Chris Soghoian, the A.C.L.U.’s chief technologist. “You had all this money flowing in. There were parties, organized by vendors, with international D.J.’s to spin music. Eventually they got rid of the Spot the Fed contest because there were so many feds coming, to the point where N.S.A. employees would grow their hair out just to be cool for that one weekend.” The relationship between hackers and the military-technology complex has always been an uneasy one. For every “white hat” hacker who signs on to help a Symantec or a Lockheed-Martin, there is a “black hat” hacker who sneers at them as sellouts. By the early 2000s, black hats were emerging as a serious annoyance on the ever expanding Internet. What had begun in the 1990s as the odd Web-page defacement became an epidemic, with hundreds of hackers, many from Russia and Eastern Europe, competing to see who could spray the most digital graffiti on government and commercial Web sites. Others released

harmful viruses and “worms” that could freeze or destroy software. The growing chaos fed on itself. The more trouble black-hat hackers caused on the Internet, the larger computer-security companies grew to fight them, often with the help of white-hat hackers. A turning point came in 2006, when someone infiltrated the computers at TJX, the parent company of such retail brands as T. J. Maxx and Marshalls, and stole thousands of credit-card numbers. At the time it was a remarkable crime. While there had been attacks on banks over the years, the TJX hack showed both black hats and white hats that there was serious money to be made in cyber-crime or in fighting it. For security companies and defense contractors, having one’s own hackers was no longer a luxury but an imperative. Then as now, the most valuable asset in a hacker’s arsenal is a socalled zero-day exploit, a previously undiscovered vulnerability in a piece of software, essentially a secret digital door to the inside. (“Zero days” refers to the amount of time—i.e. none—a target has to fix an entirely new kind of hack before damage can be done.) For a hacker, maintaining a zero day’s secrecy is paramount; once the exploit becomes known, the target—whether Microsoft, Apple, or another company—will nail the software door shut, rendering the exploit unusable. “It used to be that hackers would hold on to their zero days and trade them for more access or knowledge,” says Hardy. “Not anymore.” By 2010 a true black market for zero days was emerging beyond the usual black market. The turning point came when a French company named Vupen began to offer bounties for zero days, reportedly as much as $250,000. Vupen insisted its aim was keeping software safe, though many doubted that its intentions were so noble. Companies such as Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft responded with bounties of their own. Though far less than what Vupen and others were paying, these bounties offered white-hat hackers a way to make money while keeping their ethics intact. In addition, as former hackers, they might also end up with lucrative consulting contracts. “Vupen led to a divide in the hacker community,” Hardy says. “Do you burn zero days by selling them, or do you keep them secret? Some hackers sold. But true black hats kept their cards close.” In this new black market few knew exactly who the buyers were, but it was widely assumed that many were governments looking for clever new ways to spy on their own citizenry. “In 2011, 2012, there was this transition point where it was still fashionable to brag about how much money you were making selling zero days,” says Chris Soghoian, “while at the same time it was not yet unfashionable to acknowledge that you were facilitating human-rights abuses by governments that use those tools.” The Zeitgeist shifted decisively in March 2012, when Forbes magazine published a memorable photograph of a pasty-faced black-marketeer who called himself “the Grugq,” sitting in front of a laptop in Bangkok. To his right was an oversize martini, to his left an open bag of cash. “That photograph was a milestone,” Soghoian observes. “There had never been a photo of a hacker arms dealer. It brought a lot of attention to the industry. And, really,

“The guys who did this are James Bond villains, evil arms dealers,” says Lookout’s Mike Murray. HO L IDAY 2 016 / 2 017

www.vanityfair.com

VAN IT Y

FAIR

147


A

Government Spies

t the time, Bill Marczak knew little of this. He was just another grad student, researching Big Data. Marczak was born in New York. His father worked in finance, moving the family first to Hong Kong and then to the Persian Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, where Marczak spent his high-school years. When the Arab Spring unrest broke out, in late 2010, Bahrain soon became a riot zone, with young protesters seeking Western-style reforms facing off in the streets against government troops. Marczak, by this time at Berkeley, watched with fascination as the violence unfolded. When activists went on Twitter seeking information on the kinds of tear gas and weaponry the government was using against them, Marczak mined the Internet for answers. He began writing blog posts, which in 2012 led him and two other would-be activists to start an advocacy group they called Bahrain Watch. Things got strange in May 2012, when three of Marczak’s new colleagues—based in Washington, London, and the Bahraini capital, Manama—received suspicious e-mails from previously unknown correspondents. Marczak studied them with a security researcher named Morgan Marquis-Boire, who worked at Citizen Lab, then known mostly for its work tracking Chinese cyber-attacks on Tibetan activist groups. A link in the e-mails took the user to an attached blank Microsoft Word document, which the two young

researchers discovered would secretly load spyware onto the user’s computer. As they dug deep into the suspicious code, the researchers found repeated use of the word “FinSpy.” FinSpy was quickly identified as part of a spyware product named “FinFisher,” created and marketed by a British company called Gamma Group, which billed FinFisher as a new way for police and intelligence agencies to monitor criminals and spies. Like several other new entrants into the spyware field, Gamma termed its products “lawful intercept” tools. Just the year before, however, protesters who had stormed Egypt’s state security headquarters carted out boxes of internal government documents, one of them an offer from the Egyptian secret police to buy the FinFisher program for $353,000. The Egyptian discovery suggested that Gamma, far from limiting its clients to those who targeted criminals, was quietly marketing FinFisher to authoritarian governments to monitor dissidents. Marczak’s work seemed to confirm it. But Gamma, contacted by a Bloomberg News reporter, denied selling FinFisher to the Bahraini government, suggesting it was using a stolen copy. A team of researchers at Rapid7, a Boston software-security outfit, set out to prove Gamma was lying. When a Rapid7 analyst named Claudio Guarnieri examined FinFisher’s code, he saw that when he pinged the I.P. address of a collection server it replied with an unusual response: “Hallo Steffi.” Guarnieri then used a program to survey every server on the Internet—roughly 75 million of them—to see if others responded the same. It took a couple of long weeks, but in the end the Rapid7 scan turned up 11 I.P. addresses in 10 countries, including Qatar, Ethiopia, and the U.A.E., that were known to monitor dissidents. But Gamma wasn’t alone. In July 2012, days after Citizen Lab released its report on Gamma online, a Moroccan activist group named Mamfakinch, which had published articles critical of the government, received an anonymous e-mail promising a sensitive scoop. A similar e-mail, purportedly from “Arabic WikiLeaks,” arrived in the in-box of the U.A.E. dissident Ahmed Mansoor, who had been imprisoned for insulting members of the government. When Mansoor clicked an attachment in the e-mail, it downloaded spyware onto his computer that monitored his every keystroke and communication. Both Mamfakinch and Mansoor contacted security experts. A Russian anti-virus company, Dr Web, was the first to publish an analysis confirming that both of their devices contained spyware marketed by a Milan-based company named Hacking Team. Unlike Gamma, Hacking Team was well known in cyber-circles. Founded by two Italian programmers in 2003, it had become one of the first sellers of commercial hacking and surveillance tools after its initial software package was embraced by the Milan police to spy on Italian citizens. With offices in three countries, including the U.S., it was probably the best known of the new breed of cyber-arms dealers. It insisted it refused to sell its products to a country blacklisted by NATO, but a Citizen Lab report showed that its tools were being used by the Moroccan and U.A.E. governments. Then came an ironic comeuppance. Someone, later identified as a previously unknown hacker named “Phineas Fisher,” managed to take control of Hacking Team’s Twitter account and triggered a massive data breach. The tweets contained links to more than 400 gigabytes of internal Hacking Team data, including e-mails, corporate files, invoices, and source code. There was even H OLIDAY

2016/2 017

GRO O MI NG BY R A ME E HUR WI T Z; FO R D ETA I L S, GO TO V F.COM / CRE DI TS

that was the last moment when it was socially acceptable for people to brag about their role in selling exploits to governments.”


SECURE ENVIRONMENT Lookout employees Mike Murray, Andrew Blaich, Kristy Edwards, and Seth Hardy, at their San Francisco headquarters. Opposite, Bill Marczak, at U.C. Berkeley.

a booming business it is. One expert estimates the global market at $5 billion. It was just a month after the Hacking Team data breach, in fact, that Zerodium, a company whose C.E.O. had founded Vupen, announced its $1 million bounty for the mother of all commercial hacking tools: a remote jailbreak.

a client list, which put the lie to the claims that Hacking Team wasn’t selling its products to repressive governments. The clients included Morocco, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Uganda, Egypt, Oman, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, and Albania, not to mention three American clients: the F.B.I., the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Department of Defense. (Hacking Team did not respond to requests for comment.) “The Hacking Team thing was monumental,” says Chris Soghoian. “Prior to that, the only thing that researchers had was circumstantial evidence that this was going on. They would find a FinFisher server in Morocco and say that’s evidence the government was using it. Before Hacking Team, there was no smoking gun.” But though a handful of Hacking Team clients, including the D.E.A., severed ties with the company, nothing much changed but perceptions. Hacking Team, like Gamma, continues in business—and

A

few days after the Zerodium bounty was claimed, Marczak got a message from Rori Donaghy, a London-based writer on human-rights issues in the Middle East, who had been publishing articles critical of the United Arab Emirates government for a Web site called Middle East Eye. Donaghy had received an invitation to join a panel discussion from a group he had never heard of, “the Right to Fight.” He C O N T I N U E D O N P A G E 1 8 9

“Apple had never seen anything like this … incredibly sophisticated nation-state attack.” HO L IDAY 2 016 / 2 017

P H OTO G R APH S

BY

DAN WINTERS

www.vanityfair.com

VAN IT Y FAIR

1 04 09 0


L’Affaire

Virtually every detail of Kim Kardashian West’s Paris Fashion Week—jewels, Instagram account. Until the early hours of October 3, when she was robbed at gunpoint up with Kardashian West, MARK SEAL explains how the

150

VAN IT Y

FA IR

www.vanityfair.com

H O L IDAY

2016 /2 017


Kardashian

PHOTOG R AP H BY D E N IS A LL A R D /R E A /R E D U X

clothes, shows, parties—was documented, by the paparazzi as well as on her in her hotel suite. Mining sources from Paris’s chief of police to the concierge who was tied star’s glamorous reality became a terrifying vulnerability

CRIME SCENE The Hôtel de Pourtalès, where Kim Kardashian West was robbed. Celebrities seeking privacy often stay there. HOLIDAY

2 016 /2 017

www.vanityfair.com

VA NIT Y

FAI R

151


T he call came shortly after three A.M. on Monday, October 3, from 36 Quai des Orfèvres, the imposing fortress-like headquarters of the Paris criminal police, overlooking the Left Bank of the Seine River. Founded in 1812, “36,” as it’s commonly called, became the model for crime-busting units worldwide, from Scotland Yard to the F.B.I. Pre-dawn calls from 36 are not unusual for Paris police chief Christian Sainte, but the one that roused him from his bed early that October morning would prove to be different. “Kim Kardashian, victim of V.M.A.,” said the night officer—V.M.A. meaning vol à main armée, armed robbery. Conventional time doesn’t exist for the chief of judiciary police in the perpetually roiling city of Paris, France. “I know everything, day and night,” he told me in his ex-

pansive office at 36. This was his first interview with foreign media, his press attaché told me, about what the police—and all of Paris—were calling L’Affaire Kardashian or simply “Kim.” After taking office, nearly two years ago, Chief Sainte co-led the investigation into the November 13, 2015, massacre, when 130 people died in simultaneous, brutal Islamist terrorist attacks on the Bataclan concert hall, Le Stade de France, and restaurants and cafés in Paris. Ironically, Kim Kardashian, while known to millions worldwide, was not known to the chief, at least at the moment when he was awakened with news of her robbery. “I asked my number two, ‘Who is this victim?’ ” recalled Sainte. His night officer didn’t know, either. So the chief rose from his bed, went to his computer, and entered the name “Kim Kardashian” on Google. “And I quickly understood who she is,” he said, as his computer was flooded with images and information about the American reality-television star. “Now I know almost everything about her.” The chief, sitting alongside his press aide, smiled. “The personality of the victim, Kim Kardashian, is not like anyone else,” he said. “She has a lot of likes on Facebook!” He could not give specific details about the robbery, since the investigation was ongoing and the perpetrators were still at large. But at the beginning of our conversation he forcefully discredited rumors and at least one published report that the robbery was somehow a hoax.

“At this time, there is no doubt about the reality of the crime,” the chief said. He also didn’t doubt that the case would turn out to be one of the most unusual of his long and distinguished career. The heist was shaping up to be wilder than anything ever shown on reality TV, and it had already consumed scores of man-hours of the elite police brigade of Paris, tamed the world’s fiercest paparazzi, stunned Paris Fashion Week, and unwittingly unleashed a hotel night receptionist straight out of French crime novels.

C

hief Sainte told me that times are tough for thieves in Paris. Banks have become impenetrable, much of their cash now dispensed by wire. Brinks-style armored-truck raids, once the rage, have been rendered technically impossible—the trucks are now extremely well protected, and those with the knowledge to rob them are mostly in prison for past offenses. “So the professionals have a solution: attack the person at home or in the street,” the chief said. It’s called “home-jacking,” robbing the rich in their residences, where, because of France’s high taxes on personal wealth, jewels, other valuables, and large amounts of cash are often to be found. “Old, rich people are very vulnerable,” said the chief. “Or business owners, restaurant owners, who have cash at home. It’s quick. And you can get a lot of money in a very short time.” Although home-jackings have plagued

THE SCORE Kim showing off her $4 million, 20-karat-diamond ring, on Instagram.

SEPTEMBER 28 With then bodyguard Pascal Duvier, arriving at the restaurant L’Avenue. 152

VAN IT Y

FA IR

www.vanityfair.com

H O L IDAY

2016 /2 017


PHOTO GRAPHS: FRO M LE FT, FRO M AVALO N, FRO M KGC -195/STARMAXI NC .CO M/NE WS CO M, BY MATTE O PR AN DO N I / BFA/RE X/SHUTTERSTO CK, PASC AL LE SE GRETAI N/GETT Y I MAGE S, © AGE NC E /BE STI MAGE

France for many years, the new wave is perpetrated by “a new type of gangster,” explained veteran Paris police reporter Frédéric Ploquin. “They’re born in France, but most of them are from North Africa: Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia. And Romanian Gypsies from France, whom we call Manouche. They are smart, clever, and they know how to follow someone on the Internet. They can also use violence, sometimes even when it’s not necessary.” Having gained entry into the residence, the home-jackers often perform what is called a saucissonnage. “They treat you like a sausage, in bondage,” said Paris writer Jean-Baptiste Roques, whose sister-in-law was once terrorized by such an ordeal. “They put your family members in different rooms, tie you up, and ask each of you, ‘Where is the safe and what is the code?’ In a country where it is quite difficult to find guns, the rope is one of the most dangerous weapons a criminal can use. When the gang that robbed my sister-in-law was finally arrested, they told the judge that they targeted their victims thanks to the party pages in French Vogue. A few days after the robbery my sister-in-law’s father received a letter from the gangsters in which they required the appraisal documents for the jewels, so they could sell them more easily. They threatened him with death if he didn’t comply.” He responded by letter to a generaldelivery address in the Paris suburbs, as the thieves had demanded, saying the jewels were old and he didn’t have appraisal documents. His life was spared but the jewels were never found.

T

An American in Paris

his was the dark side of the Paris into which Kim Kardashian West landed by private jet at Le Bourget Airport at 10:40 A.M. on September 28, accompanied by her assistant, Stephanie Sheppard, and her German bodyguard, the massive Pascal Duvier. A battery of Paris street photographers, who kept abreast of Kim’s busy schedule through sources and social media, met her plane. For most stars, the photographers of Paris—surely, the fiercest paparazzi on earth—are to be avoided, cursed, and, in some cases, even attacked. But Kim was different. During last September’s Paris Fashion Week, she greeted them with smiles, posed for them, thanked them. At times, it seemed, she even dressed for them, or at least that’s how it seemed to them. “To me, she’s No. 1,” said Marc Piasecki, one of the photographers who chronicled Kardashian’s every public moment throughout the week. A street photographer as opposed to a paparazzo—the difference being, he said, “we don’t hide”— Piasecki met me in a café to scroll his iPhone through endless pictures of Kim, which added up to practically a minute-by-minute chronicle of her movements during Paris Fashion Week, “because whatever she does you make money,” Piasecki said. The photographers trailed her black Mercedes van from the airport into the city, on

scooters and motorcycles, wondering all the while where she was staying because the sidewalks outside her Paris hotel would be their home for the next six days. When her van pulled up to the Hôtel de Pourtalès, at 7 Rue Tronchet, behind the Madeleine Church, the photographers weren’t surprised. They had staked out many famous guests there, including Prince, who supposedly booked the entire hotel for a party shortly after its 2010 opening. Other previous guests have included Madonna, Beyoncé and Jay Z, Marion Cotillard and her partner, director and screenwriter Guillaume Canet, and Manchester United soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimović, who actually lived in the hotel. Kardashian West and her husband, Kanye West, have stayed there many times, including shortly before their wedding, in 2014. “Well, it’s not a hotel,” an executive at one of Paris’s grand hotels sniffed dismissively. “It’s an hôtel particulier, a private residence transformed into a luxurious guesthouse.” Nonetheless, its official name is the Hôtel de Pourtalès, also known as the No Address Hotel. To be admitted, you have to be rich or famous, or both—or be referred by someone who is. Its entrance is located in a historic 1839 Florentine Renaissance mansion, which was purchased and refurbished in 2004 by the young French hotel entrepreneur Alexandre Allard (who, in 2007, bought the then faded Paris landmark hotel Le Royal Monceau and restored it to five-star “palace” standards). The hotel opened in 2010, in a new, 11-apartment annex to the mansion. Rooms SEPTEMBER 30 At the Buro 24/7 Fashion Forward Initiative, at the Hôtel Ritz.

SEPTEMBER 29

OCTOBER 1

With husband Kanye West (on her right) in the front row at the Off-White show. HOLIDAY

2 016 /2 017

Arriving at the restaurant Kinu, for dinner. www.vanityfair.com

VA NIT Y

FAI R

153


start at $1,120 per night, and there is a oneto-one staff-to-guest ratio. Jennifer Lawrence reportedly stayed at the hotel days before the robbery, and Leonardo DiCaprio was supposedly seen there two weeks after. More a home than a hotel, it was apparently a prime target for a home-jacking, with lax security, no CCTV cameras—so that guests could come and go in privacy—and a code on the entrance door that, an employee would say, “is known by all,” because it had allegedly not been changed in six years. “Dozens of potential suspects know about this place, because celebrities stay there for a long time,” says Frédéric Ploquin. “They think they will be free of cameras, free to receive friends, visitors … but drivers, bodyguards, paparazzi, girl furnishers all … know about this place. That makes maybe hundreds of people who know about this place. This makes the investigation very complex. You have hundreds of suspects.”

K

ardashian West stayed in the Sky Penthouse, which sprawls over 3,790 square feet and features 360- degree views of the city. It costs as much as $16,800 a night. An hour after her arrival Kim emerged, in a change of clothes, and the photographers’ cameras celebrated her entry into the City of Light with blinding flashes. She was off and running, the photographers chronicling her every clothing change, frequently three per day and sometimes more, each new outfit representing more money for the

photographers, who sell their shots to media outlets and fashion houses for “anywhere from three cents to $1,000, if a fashion designer buys the picture,” says Piasecki. In recent years Kim and Kanye have become Fashion Week fixtures, “as expected at fashion shows as fashion editors themselves,” says one insider. “It’s commonplace for celebrities to pop up at fashion shows, especially in Paris. All of the big brands understand it as a marketing and P.R. expense, so you’ll see Michelle Williams at Louis Vuitton or Lily-Rose Depp at Chanel, and they’re dressed by the designers and typically exclusive to that one appearance. But Kim and Kanye are different because they’ve become omnipresent at the collections, and they go to many shows.” “In the afternoon [of the first day], we went straight to the Balmain office,” says Piasecki, where Kim was going to be fitted by the firm’s young creative director, Olivier Rousteing, in a peekaboo crocheted dress. The outfit would cause jaws to drop at the Balmain show when Kim, whose face graced the invitations, entered the venue—the Hôtel Potocki, the grand former residence of a noble Polish family. Kim and her entourage mistakenly entered the office through the wrong door, ending up in a school for young journalists. “A Kardashian!” says Piasecki, showing me pictures of a throng of iPhones hoisted high by students for selfies with the American reality-TV star. At six P.M., Kim was off to lunch. “We

went to L’Avenue restaurant,” Piasecki recalls, where Ukrainian media personality Vitali Sediuk, famous for assaulting celebrities, attempted to kiss Kim’s formidable ass before he was wrestled to the ground by her bodyguard. The moment was captured by at least a dozen photographers, all tripping over one another “for a small piece of the cake.” “We always say, ‘Thank you, Kim,’ ” Piasecki says and then adds, imitating Kim’s high-pitched reply, “And she says, ‘Thank you, guys.’ ” “Lots of other celebrities are giving us this,” he says, shooting the middle finger. “She never does that.” The next day, Thursday, Kim’s husband, Kanye West, flew in for the day, but was soon back to New York to resume his concert tour and to be with their children, North, 3, and Saint, 10 months. Three days later, on Sunday, October 2, it was still a flurry of clothing changes and photo ops, most notably in the Riccardo Tisci/Givenchy fashion show in the Jardin des Plantes, where Kim, wearing a white negligée (“boudoir style with a lacy ivory-toned frock,” according to French Vogue), sat in the front row with Courtney Love and model Gigi Hadid. “And then she and her sister Kourtney went back to the Hôtel de Pourtalès to change clothes,” says Piasecki. “Then they went to the [Azzedine] Alaïa showroom for a private dinner.” The dinner began at 9:45 P.M. in Alaïa’s 1,200-square-foot office-kitchen, where Bianca Jagger, architect Peter Marino, Vogue Italia editor in chief Franca Sozzani, and around 60 others consumed truffled scrambled eggs and Saint Honoré OCTOBER 3 At Le Bourget Airport, leaving Paris, the morning after the robbery.

OCTOBER 2 (P.M.) OCTOBER 2 (A.M.) At the Balenciaga show. 154

VAN IT Y

FA IR

www.vanityfair.com

With sister Kourtney, arriving at the Azzedine Alaïa showroom. H O L IDAY

2016 /2 017


PHOTO GRAPHS: FRO M LE FT, BY BERTRAND RI NDO FF PE TRO FF/G E TT Y I MAGE S , MARC PI AS E CKI / GC I MAGE S / GE TT Y I MAGE S , © AGENC E /BE STI MAGE, BY NE I L WARNE R/NW ME DI A I MAGES , CL AUDE PAR I S / A.P. I MAGE S

“I asked my number two, ‘Who is this victim?’ ” said Police Chief Sainte. He didn’t know, so the chief Googled “Kim Kardashian.” cake, with Louis XIII Cognac from the Rémy Martin family, represented at the dinner by the Rémy Martin heiress, young and glamorous Laure Hériard Dubreuil. “When Kim and Kourtney walked in, the room went silent. All of the guests were looking over at them in the entryway,” recalled Spencer Bailey, editor in chief of Surface magazine, which co-hosted the dinner with Alaïa. As the sisters approached their places, veteran Paris photographer Bertrand Rindoff Petroff shot them flanking the cherubic Alaïa. “When I finished taking the pictures, Kim said, ‘Can you step aside so Kourtney can take a picture?’ ” recalled Petroff. “She basically documents everything.” Around midnight, when the black Mercedes van left the party and returned Kim to the Hôtel de Pourtalès, it was without the usual procession of photographers. “We decided not to follow,” says Marc Piasecki. “Because the day was over. Then the nightmare arrived.”

A

Find Me on Instagram

t the No Address Hotel a single receptionist worked behind the glass entrance. The door is in the middle of a courtyard, which is usually open to the public during the day. During my time in Paris, I walked freely through the street door and into the courtyard, which houses an event space and restaurant. A Fashion Week party, hosted by a Brazilian beer company, was held there until the early-morning hours just before the robbery. Upon arrival, the guests had to squeeze past Kardashian West’s black Mercedes van. “Everybody was telling each other, ‘Do you know there’s a Kardashian upstairs?’ ” remembered fashion designer Christophe Guillarmé, who attended the party along with around 80 others. “It was like a joke: she’s upstairs while we are partying,” Guillarmé added. “There was no bodyguard at the front door, no bodyguard inside. There was a girl at the entrance, who asked, ‘Are you coming to the party?’ And if you said yes, she let you in.” Kim returned around one A.M. Five bandits arrived soon after. Some would say they had tracked their victim by embedding themselves THE POLICE CHIEF Christian Sainte, who is leading the investigation of the robbery.

THE CONCIERGE Abdulrahman, who was held at gunpoint with Kim at the Hôtel de Pourtalès. HOLIDAY

2 016 /2 017

in her paparazzi pack, but Piasecki recalled the pack grew so large that he could not be sure, and in any case it had dispersed by the time Kim arrived at the hotel. “You have to understand we are focused on Kim,” he said. Others would insist the thieves followed their victim not furtively in alleyways or dark corners but in the same way that Kardashian West’s 85 million Instagram followers do: on social media. “Parisian Vibes,” read Kardashian West’s first Instagram post from Paris, announcing her arrival to her followers at 2:31 P.M. on September 28. “This guy is always in my shot,” she wrote of Duvier, her bodyguard, who was behind her while she showed off thigh-high leather boots and a trench coat that “defied gravity” by barely covering her breasts. Of the 15 Instagram photos she posted from Paris, surely the most tantalizing for thieves would have been one posted on the day after her arrival: a sexy selfie of Kardashian West and some of her jewelry—diamonds in her mouth and a 20-karat-diamond ring on her finger, which Kanye had reportedly purchased from Lorraine Schwartz Diamonds & Fine Jewelry at Bergdorf Goodman, in New York, for around $4 million. Kim signed the post without words—only three blue-diamond emojis. I asked the chief, “Were the thieves following her on social media?” He’d say only, “She gives information on social media all the time.” Later, others would contend that the robbers were amateurs, lugs who knew nothing about Kim Kardashian, much less her socialmedia presence. But no one disputes their mode of transportation, which convinced Parisians that they not only knew Paris well but well enough to avoid traffic, security cameras, prying eyes, and easily traceable evidence: they came and departed by bicycle.

‘I

f you ride a bike in Paris, you have to know Paris,” Frédéric Ploquin told me, having himself arrived at our lunch on his bike, which, as with so many Parisians, is his preferred mode of transportation. “The Hôtel de Pourtalès is in the center of Paris, where there are a lot of CCTV camwww.vanityfair.com

VAN IT Y

FAIR

155


Spotlight

T

he thieves might have come and gone with the night, and the story of the robbery would have been known only by the police and the Kardashians until the case was solved and the robbers caught. But then came the strangest character thus far, a man who had been held at gunpoint and tied up with Kim during the robbery. He was the hotel’s night receptionist, and he was now an anguished soul. Not because of his own brush with death during the robbery but because he worried that Kim might think ill of him. “A few days after the robbery a Web site reported that Kim had told the police that the concierge was very calm during the robbery,” says Benjamin Dargent, an editor at the French magazine Closer, who was the first to track down and meet the night receptionist. The word “calm” seared. Did it mean uncaring or, worse, “afraid”? Either way, the night receptionist was “a bit upset about what they wrote,” says Dargent. “He told me that he was calm because he was held at gunpoint, and it was his way to save his life and Kim’s life.” He wanted to convey his feelings to Kim. But he had no contact information for her. So he asked the editor to publish a letter to Kim on the Closer magazine Web site and he texted its contents: “Dear Kim,” it read. “When you feel the cold steel of a gun at your neck, it’s the moment when remaining calm can mean the difference between life and death, both our lives. I hope you are feeling better.” Perhaps fearing retribution from the robbers, the night C O N T I N U E D O N P A G E 1 8 4

156

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

A SHARED REALITY

M

ark Wahlberg and I have now done three films together: Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon, and our third, Patriots Day, out in January, about the community of Boston fighting to process the brutality of the marathon bombing. All three nonfiction. Merciless tales of people uniting to face overwhelming odds. Every one starts and ends with a deep belief in the value of persistence. We come from very different places—Mark from the meanest of the mean streets of the Dorchester section of Boston, me from the privileged upper-middle-class suburban comforts of Chappaqua, New York. Not much in common, or so it would appear. What was shared, it seems, was a feeling, somewhere back in our most formative of stages, that we were both underestimated, misunderstood, and as a result we both grew determined to change the narrative. This is where persistence came in. We had no role models, no family connections, no industry contacts, and no shortcuts. Somehow our paths converged. We recognized the same drive, the same ethic, and the same spirit. We were instantly certain that we would work well together, that we could trust each other, and that we would be stronger as a team. So now we make movies about teams fighting to survive. We are both of the mind-set that nonfiction generally beats fiction. We want the contact with the men and women who went through it—those families, raw with emotion but willing to open up to us and allow us the honor of protecting those epic legacies. Their truth inspires us. Now, with the third step of our trilogy, Patriots Day, we get to go back into this epic world of the truth. We have been welcomed by the men and women of Boston with stories to tell. The police, F.B.I., ambulance drivers, firefighters, hospital workers, public servants, and survivors have all let us in and blessed us with the courage and grace of their experiences, entrusted us with getting it right, with telling their mighty stories. This, for Mark and me, is where the pressure lies—the promise to do them all proud. To do their children proud. Yes, it’s pressure, but, for us, that pressure is our fuel and our challenge to tell their story in a way that will —PETER BERG make the world recognize true bravery. PH OTO GRA PH

BY

D A V I D B A I L EDYE

C EMB ER

2 016

ST Y LE D BY A LL A N KE NN EDY; GRO OM IN G BY J O HNN Y VI L L A NU EVA ; F OR DETA I LS , GO TO VF.CO M/ CR ED ITS

eras. But on a bike you can ride the small streets, where there are no cameras.” Best of all, bicycles are virtually untraceable—no license plate or registration, most of them looking alike—and are easily hidden or destroyed. Wearing a cap and looking down, its rider can traverse the back streets, undetected and unrecognized. “This is the first occurrence of a bicycle being used in a major robbery,” said the chief. Various accounts of what happened next have raged throughout the international media, but the most complete versions came from London’s Daily Mail, as well as from Le Parisien and Paris television channel M6, whose reporters were the first to study the video captured by a security camera near the No Address Hotel. At 2:18 A.M. the camera showed three men riding toward the hotel on bikes and wearing “fluorescent security bibs,” according to Le Parisien. Fourteen minutes later, “two more stealth silhouettes” appear on foot, and a minute later, a sixth man, making “a gesture to hide his face under his hood,” appears.


Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg, photographed in London. WA H L B ERG W EAR S A S H IRT BY C I T I Z EN S O F H U M AN I T Y; WATCH BY PAT EK P H I L I P P E. B ERG W EAR S A S H I RT BY P S BY PAU L S M I T H .

HO L IDAY 2 01 6 /2 017

www.vanityfair.com

VANIT Y FAIR

157


Airbnb Hits

G ROOMI NG BY JU LI E DY; F OR D E TA I LS , G O TO VF. COM/ C RE D I TS

Airbnb may be fighting battles around the world—banned in Berlin, New York—but its billionaire C.E.O. and co-founder, Brian Chesky, is already on In a yurt in California’s Topanga Canyon, KATRINA BROOKER finds in a very different direction from most of Silicon

BY THE BOOKINGS Airbnb co-founder and C.E.O. Brian Chesky, with a replica of an Airbnb rental Airstream at the company’s headquarters, in San Francisco. HAIR PRODUCTS BY BAXTER; GROOMING PRODUCTS BY LAURA MERCIER.

158

VAN IT Y

FA IR

www.vanityfair.com

H O L IDAY

2016 /2 017


the Road

under assault in San Francisco, threatened in Barcelona, outlawed in to the companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s next stage: providing travelers with excursions and adventures. Chesky launching Airbnb Trips, which will further move his company Valley: toward experiences only humans can provide

HOLIDAY

2 016 /2 017

P H OTO G R A PH S

BY

ART STREIBER

www.vanityfair.com

VA NIT Y

FAI R

159


ome nights, Brian Chesky wakes up with his heart pounding. It’s a familiar feeling—one that he’s had since the early days of Airbnb, the online lodging company he co-founded nearly 10 years ago. Back then, his fears were not unlike those that plague most entrepreneurs: he worried about running out of money, building a product no one wanted, his company going bust. There is little danger of that now. Airbnb, worth $30 billion, operates in every place in the world except Iran, Syria, Sudan, Crimea, and North Korea. Roughly 100 million people—including Beyoncé, Kendall Jenner, and Gwyneth Paltrow—have used the site. And Chesky, at 35 years old, is a billionaire and one of the most powerful C.E.O.’s in Silicon Valley. Still, in the quiet dark hours, when there are no e-mails, no meetings, no calls or other distractions, the chest tightening returns and wakes him. Only now his anxieties, while just as existential, are more open-ended and philosophical. “If we don’t grow past what we originally invented, what led to your success leads to your death,” Chesky told me. It was a bright morning in late September, and Chesky and I were sitting in a yurt in Topanga Canyon, west of Los Angeles. There was no cell-phone service, leaving Chesky uncharacteristically out of touch with Airbnb headquarters, in San Francisco. “It’s a Friday. God knows what’s happening right now,” he said. Already that week, news had leaked that Google Capital was leading a new round of investment in the site, the city of Barcelona had threatened Airbnb hosts with new enforcement measures, and Britain’s top property court had ruled that one London woman was breaking the law by renting out her apartment on Airbnb. Chesky had intentionally cut himself off 160

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

from the world to focus on a service that he believes is the future of his company. Airbnb Trips, officially launched in November, offers travelers a series of excursions and adventures—and pushes Airbnb well past its couchsurfing origins. Chesky had invited me to tag along as he personally tested an experience called “The TV Writer’s Journey.” He and a small team of Airbnb executives had recruited some professional television writers to design a three-day tour that would give travelers a taste of what it is like to live and work in L.A. This is sort of the Airbnb version of the NBC studio tour—offbeat, unpolished, and probably not for Grandma. (The yurt was home to one of the writers; its toilet was an outhouse over a compost heap.) It was day two, and travelers were simulating what happens in a TV writers’ room. “I like the idea that there is this alternative universe,” a young woman in jean shorts said. She’d signed up for the trip on a whim and had no idea who Chesky was—other than that he was a big science-fiction fan who watched Stranger Things on Netflix and 11.22.63 on Hulu. The plot they’d hatched was arguably wilder than those of the two shows. It involved a woman using some kind of spacetime transporter on her wedding day to enter a parallel universe where she was a stand-up comedian—sort of Runaway Bride meets Doctor Strange meets Inside Amy Schumer. “What are the chances this could get made into a real TV show?,” Chesky asked in all sincerity. Inside the yurt, for a few hours at least, he was just another guy on a trip. wo years ago Chesky quietly pulled back from his day-today duties running Airbnb’s home-rental business to focus on building these new excursions. If the service takes off, it could be what transforms Airbnb from a one-trick Web site into a platform (in Silicon Valley parlance) that eventually will allow individuals to sell all sorts of services, such as guided tours, musical outings, even car rides, which could put Airbnb in competition with Uber. The first batch of Airbnb Trips will include lessons from a samurai master in Japan, training with long-distance runners in Kenya, and surfing with a local pro in Malibu. Selling experiences seems to be the logical next step in the service economy’s inexorable shift to the sharing economy, in which people supplement wages or cobble together a living by giving rides to strangers or renting out their spare rooms. (This year Airbnb will book $12.3 billion in rentals. The site takes a 3 percent commission from hosts before fees and taxes; guests pay Airbnb an additional service charge of roughly 6 to 12

percent.) With Airbnb Trips, you don’t even need a home or a car to make money, just your time and talents. Reid Hoffman, who helped start PayPal, co-founded LinkedIn, and is one of Airbnb’s earliest investors, unflinchingly compares the new service to the launch of Apple’s iPhone, which made it relatively easy for even non-engineers to become app developers. “This is essentially the same thing,” Hoffman says. “This allows people to develop all kinds of experiences no one ever thought of before.” ut while Chesky has been busy recruiting samurai and hanging out with TV writers, his original lodging business is facing fierce vitriol from lawmakers, community leaders, and disgruntled consumers. From New York to Singapore—even the company’s hometown, San Francisco—cities are fighting to stop Airbnb’s sprawl, claiming it is driving up rents, displacing locals, and contributing to traffic, noise, and other problems that destroy communities. One city-council member in Austin, Texas, says she’s heard concerns that school enrollment could drop in some neighborhoods as homes convert from family residences to full-time Airbnb units. Last spring, Berlin banned parts of Airbnb outright, and local activists launched a “#boycottairbnb” effort, complete with a spicy ad campaign that reimagined Airbnb’s logo as, among other things, a set of testicles being snipped by a pair of large scissors. “Castrate Gentrification,” the caption read. U.S. senator Elizabeth Warren, who normally spends her days battling Wall Street, has called for a regulatory probe into home-sharing sites. In late October, New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that would fine Airbnb hosts violating short-term-rental rules. Almost immediately, Airbnb filed a federal lawsuit against the state. “I was born in New York, so I never would’ve imagined we would find a path in London, Chicago, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Paris, Amsterdam, and Sydney, but not New York,” Chesky wrote to me in an e-mail shortly after Cuomo signed the law. “I believe we will find a path forward [for Airbnb hosts], though it may take longer than we had anticipated.” Bans and fines are unlikely to stop Airbnb’s expansion. It is simply moving too fast: in 2013, Airbnb hosts lodged nine million guests, a number that could soar to nearly half a billion in 2025, according to a recent report published by investment firm Cowen and Company. Listings range from a $9,700-a-night château in France’s Loire Valley to a $15-a-night futon in an Austin living room—a steal in a city where the average hotel room rate is $135 C O N T I N U E D O N P A G E 1 8 7 H OLIDAY

2016/2 017


THE BIG PICTURE Chesky (bottom, center) poses in a conference room at Airbnb headquarters.


With the value of maple syrup at roughly $1,300 a barrel, 26 times more expensive that controls 72 percent of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s supply. Investigating the Federation of Quebec market for the authentic product, and defending it against Aunt Jemima and Mrs.

PHOTOG R AP H BY YA N NI CK G RA N D MON T/ TH E NE W YOR K T IME S / RE D U X

STICKY B

162

VAN IT Y

FA IR

www.vanityfair.com

H O L IDAY

2016 /2 017


than crude oil, it’s time everyone knew about the not-very-shadowy Canadian cartel Maple Syrup Producers, RICH COHEN discovers that its mission—ensuring a steady Butterworth—has created new perils, including Quebec’s Great Maple Syrup Heist

USINESS

ON TAP Sugar-maple trees at the Sucrerie de la Montagne, in Rigaud, Quebec, yield sap that will be processed into syrup.

HOLIDAY

2 016 /2 017

www.vanityfair.com

VA NIT Y

FAI R

163


mericans are focused on the wrong border. It’s not Mexico, with all this dubious talk about building a wall, but Canada, with its Mounties, and comedy writers who move among us, betrayed only by the occasional mispronunciation of “about,” that threatens our way of life. If this nation was not founded on the free flow of syrup, it should have been. And now, as anyone with kids can tell you, the price of syrup has remained stable and high; it’s more expensive than oil. Is it Arab sheikhs who did this, Russian oligarchs? No. It’s Canadians, who, organized into an ironfisted cartel, have established a stranglehold on that honey-flavored elixir. In short, FPAQ—the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers—is OPEC. Formed in 1966, the federation was tasked with taking a business in which few could make a decent living—the price went north to south with the quality of the yield, which went north to south with the quality of the spring—and turning it into a respectable trade. This was accomplished in the classic way: quotas, rules. You control supply, you control price. You limit supply, you raise price. Because Quebec makes 72 percent of the world’s maple syrup, it’s been able to set the price. As of this writing, the commodity is valued at just over $1,300 a barrel, 26 times more expensive than crude. (If Jed Clampett shot up a sugar maple instead of a mountain holler, he’d have been a whole different order of rich.) I discovered this for myself on a recent trip to the supermarket. My son returned from the shelves with a small artisanal jug of Canadian syrup—“genuine maple” has prospered in concert with the boom in organic food—which cost … $15! It shocked me. I stormed up the aisle to see for myself, where I discovered Aunt Jemima, companion of so many Sunday mornings, in her babushka, costing just four bucks for a family-size jug. When I asked the cashier to explain this discrepancy, she pointed rudely at Aunt Jemima and said, “ ’Cause that’s not real syrup.” “Then what is it?” “I don’t know. High-fructose corn syrup? Food coloring? Goo?”

A

Sweet Nothings

unt Jemima is a phony, a fake. In fact, there really was no Aunt Jemima. The original character was borrowed from a minstrel show that was touring the South at the end of the 19th century. The original Jemima was a white man in black face, possibly a German. The character was re-purposed in the 1890s by an American mill owner who sold pancake mix with an Aunt Jemima who, though smiling beneath her headscarf, looks nothing like the Aunt Jemima of my childhood. In 1893, marketers hired C O N T I N U E D O N P A G E 1 8 1

NEARLY 540,000 GALLONS

OF SYRUP WAS STOLEN—12.5 PERCENT OF THE RESERVE—WITH A STREET VALUE OF $13.4 MILLION. 164

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

H OLIDAY

2016/2 017

J ACKE T A ND CA P BY F I L SO N. PH OTOG RA P H, TOP, BY L E YL A ND CE CCO

A

It’s an answer that would bring joy in Quebec—authenticity is what FPAQ is selling. Canadian maple is real, while all those highfructose Jemimas are as phony as the bottle that is the body of Mrs. Butterworth. In a world covered in plastic and going to hell, there’s nothing more honest than sap. In Canada, people tell you the trappers got it from the Indians, who got it from their ancestors, who got it from the gods. It’s the death and rebirth of the forest turned into wine. If consumers know that, it’s partly because of FPAQ, which has turned Quebec into a brand. Have there been side effects to all this success? Has the federation, with its quotas and its methods of control (quotas must be enforced), reaped its own sticky harvest? Start with those high prices. By making syrup production seem like a good business instead of just an eccentric survivalist hobby, it has brought a great increase in production, much of it in the U.S. Just like OPEC, which, with its near monopoly, spurred the search for new sources. With oil, it’s the deep deposits reached only by fracking. With syrup, it’s forests in Vermont, New Hampshire, and especially New York State, which, Canadians tell you with a shudder, has three times more maple trees than all of Quebec’s maple farms combined. The French province produces 72 percent of the world supply, but if the Americans ever make the push to self-sufficiency, French Canada is cooked. In 2015, Quebec’s minister of agriculture, Pierre Paradis, commissioned a report on FPAQ and the industry—just how far could that 72 percent fall? While giving proper credit to the cartel, the report, noting, among other things, how readily journalists like me compare FPAQ to OPEC, called on the federation to loosen its rules, scrap its quotas, and let a thousand flowers bloom. “It’s a mafia,” a producer who has defied the cartel recently said to The Globe and Mail of FPAQ. “Last year, they tried to seize my syrup. I had to [move the product into New Brunswick] at night. This year, they hit me with an injunction.” And what about that most troubling of unintended consequences: the black market, the subterranean world of contraband sap where wildcatters move unmarked barrels through Elmore Leonard country, the seedy history behind your stack of morning hotcakes or pancakes, or, as they insisted everywhere I went, crêpes. Especially interesting are the criminals, pirates of syrup nation, who, attracted by the peak prices, skulk through warehouses, waiting for the watchman to doze off over his Hockey News as the getaway truck idles.


CARTEL LAND Above, barrels of maple syrup at the Global Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve, in Laurierville, Quebec. Below, entrepreneur and syrup producer Franรงois Roberge at his sugar shack, in Lac-Brome, Quebec, photographed by Jonathan Becker.

HOLIDAY

2 016 /2 017

www.vanityfair.com

VA NIT Y

FAI R

165


166

VAN IT Y

FA IR

www.vanityfair.com

F OR C R E D ITS , S E E PAG E 18 9

Chris Elliott, Jennifer Robertson, Eugene Levy, Catherine Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Hara, Dan Levy, Annie Murphy, Emily Hampshire, Sarah Levy, Dustin Milligan, and Tim Rozon, photographed in Toronto. H O L IDAY

2016 /2 017


Spotlight

I

t was never quite enough, those intermittent doses of Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy administered every few years via Christopher Guest’s ensemble movies. Not after SCTV, where the two Canadian actors made their names in the late 70s and early 80s, acclimating their fans to regular hits of their fearless, nuanced, out-there comic brilliance. Which

GRAND MOTEL is why the return of Schitt’s Creek is so welcome. The series, in which O’Hara and Levy star as a fallen, formerly wealthy couple reduced to living with their adult children in the show’s titular backwater town, kicks off its third U.S. season on January 11, on the cable channel Pop TV. For Levy, who says he was “scared at SCTV to play anyone who remotely resembled me,” Schitt’s Creek marks a departure, in that it’s “about the straightest thing I’ve ever done in my career.” Dapper in bespoke suits from the old life of his character, Johnny Rose, he cedes the terrain of abject loopiness to O’Hara’s delusional Moira and to the Roses’ offspring: their narcissistic daughter, Alexis, played by Annie Murphy, and their pansexual fashion-victim

P H OTOG R APH

BY

ANDREW ECCLES

son, David, played by Levy’s real-life son and the show’s co-creator, Dan Levy. The younger Levy says that in the new season the focus is now on the self-centered characters’ figuring out how to function as a loving family. Not that the sitcom is about to morph into The Waltons. “We’re very slow learners in the Rose family,” he says. “No one’s learning — DAVID K A MP that much.”

www.vanityfair.com

VA NIT Y

FAI R

167


YOU BETTER WATCH OUT Ralphie, just before Santa pushes him down the exit slide.

The cinematic holiday once ruled by Irving Berlin, Charles Dickens, and Story. Looking back at the movie’s ingredients—the comic genius of a cast that seemed like any American family—SAM KASHNER describes how

Santa Gets

168

VAN IT Y

FA IR

www.vanityfair.com

H O L IDAY

2016 /2 017


FRO M T HE E VE R E TT COLLE C TIO N

Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a Wonderful Life now belongs to a little 1983 sleeper, A Christmas radio star Jean Shepherd, the low-budget magic of director Bob Clark, a fluke project punctured the cozy sentimentality of Hollywood tradition

His Claws

HOLIDAY

2 016 /2 017

www.vanityfair.com

VA NIT Y

FAI R

169


t’s not A Wonderful Life anymore. It hasn’t been since 1983, the year of A Christmas Story—the now classic film about nine-year-old Ralphie Parker’s thwarted desire for a forbidden Christmas present: an official Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-Shot Range Model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time. A sleeper of a movie, A Christmas Story forever changed the cozy, sentimental holiday-movie genre. When we think of pre-1983 holiday movies, we think of plum puddings like Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol (the best of several incarnations being the 1951 version, in which Alastair Sim plays Ebenezer Scrooge); the 1942 Irving Berlin musical Holiday Inn and its 1954 cousin, White Christmas; the rather dark 1946 Frank Capra drama starring James Stewart, It’s a Wonderful Life; Miracle on 34th Street the following year— saccharine despite the bracing skepticism of an eight-year-old Natalie Wood, who refuses to believe in Edmund Gwenn as Kris Kringle. (She’s wrong, we’re told.) So when A Christmas Story premiered, in 1983, we suddenly had a new kind of holiday movie, one that acknowledged—even relished—the “unbridled avarice,” the commercialism, the disappointments, the hurt feelings, and all-around bad luck that, in reality, often define the merry season. In other words, what real Christmas was like in real families. It brought a bracing blast of satire and realism, wrapped up in a hilarious, pitchperfect tale of a middle-class family negotiating the perils of Christmas, recalled through the eyes of a nine-year-old boy.

Years later, when he was moving his acting career in another direction, Peter Billingsley, who played Ralphie, took Robert McKee’s famed three-day crash course in screenplay writing. McKee—aptly portrayed by Brian Cox in the satirical Charlie Kaufman film Adaptation—is something of a gruff guru in the art of storytelling. Billingsley recalled how McKee told his screenwriting hopefuls, “Don’t tell me you’re going to create a new genre for your movie. Everyone’s always saying there’s a new genre. There is no new genre. There are comedies, dramas, and tragedy.” But then Billingsley was surprised to hear McKee say, “There’s only one movie that I can argue has been a new genre in the modern era, and that movie’s a little movie—I don’t know if you guys have heard of it—called A Christmas Story.” Though the movie did respectable box office, it disappeared in just a few weeks. But over the years its popularity grew, and 14 years after its release, it had become such a staple of holiday fare that TNT began running it in a continuous loop at Christmastime. The movie’s director, Bob Clark, who died in a 2007 car accident, once recalled being in a restaurant in New Hampshire when he overheard a family at a nearby table speaking what sounded like dialogue from A Christmas Story. Turned out, it was. The maître d’

A HAIRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS Above, the Higbees

explained that it holiday procession. Opposite, the was a ritual every Parker family on Christmas Eve for Christmas Eve. this family to come to the restaurant, sit around a table, and recite dialogue from every scene. “That’s when it began to sink in,” said Clark. “This low-budget fluke of a movie” had become a quintessential Christmas tradition.

C

lark auditioned 8,000 kids for the role of Ralphie, beginning with the 12-year-old, bespectacled Billingsley, who was already one of the most successful child actors in commercials in New York in the 1970s (appearing as “Messy Marvin” for Hershey’s, selling hot dogs with New York Yankees manager Billy Martin, and promoting video games with basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). Clark shied away at first, thinking Peter perfect for the role but too obvious a choice. Gail Billingsley, Peter’s mother, told V.F.,

“My guess is either nobody will go to see it, or mill 170

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

H OLIDAY

2016/2 017

L A RGE PH OTO GRA P H © MGM /UA E NT E RTA I NME N T/ PHOTO FE ST. IN SE T CO U RTE SY OF RE UB E N F RE E D

I


ions of people will go to see it,â&#x20AC;? Roger Ebert said. 171


PHOTOG RA PH S COURTE SY O F CHR ISTI A N D UP ON T ( F L ICK ) , BY FR E D W. M C DA R R AH/ G E TT Y I MAGE S (S HE PHE R D ) , BE TT Y P E TR E LL A (R A N DY ) , © MGM/ UA E N TE RTA IN ME N T COM PA NY / PHOTOF E ST ( A L L OTH E RS )


LET IT SNOW Clockwise from top left: screenwriter Jean Shepherd; Flickâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s triple-dogdare; Randy in a bind; director Bob Clark with Peter Billingsley and Ian Petrella; the bully Scut Farkus; the Parkers after Ralphie drops the f-bomb.

www.vanityfair.com

VAN IT Y

FAIR

173


Ralphie’s rapture as his hand glides up the lamp’s

174

VAN IT Y

FA IR

www.vanityfair.com

H O L IDAY

2016 /2 017


prosthetic fishnet leg—that reaction was totally real.

L ARGE PHOTO GRAPH © MGM/ UA E N TE RTAI N ME N T/ PHOTO FEST. I NSE T CO URTE SY O F R E UB E N F R E E D

“They [auditioned actors] in California, and in a couple of other countries,” before they went back to their first choice. Clark later admitted to Gail, “He walked in, and he had us from the beginning.”

P

eter, who grew up in New York City, is related to the bootlegger turned restaurateur Sherman Billingsley, founder and owner of the Stork Club, a centerpiece of café society from speakeasy days through the 1960s. But that glory didn’t extend to his descendants. Until Peter was nine, his family of six shared a one-bedroom apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, before moving to California and eventually settling in Phoenix. Ralphie’s father, Frank Parker—always referred to as “the Old Man” in the movie— is a perennially grumpy, obscenity-spewing,

but loving dad who forever does battle with the family’s smoke-belching furnace and with his neighbors’, the Bumpuses’, passel of hound dogs. Darren McGavin—remembered for his title role in the 1970s television horror series Kolchak: The Night Stalker and in supporting roles in films and television—brings just the right amount of gruff tenderness to the role. Screenwriter Jean Shepherd felt that McGavin got the character exactly right. “I saw the Old Man … as a guy who grew up hustling pool games at the age of 12 and was supporting himself at the age of 14.” Abandoned by his parents when he was a teen, McGavin had a hardscrabble life that made him a believable, hard-boiled dad, trying to provide a good Christmas for his family against the indignities of 1940, small-town American life at the dawn of rampant consumerism. Irascible as the Old Man can be, he is in fact the Grinch Who Saves Christmas for Ralphie, by—spoiler alert!—getting him his cherished but heretofore denied Red Ryder BB gun. (Everyone else—including the department-store Santa— just tells Ralphie, “You’ll shoot your eye out!”) Jack Nicholson was considered for the role, though it’s hard to imagine anyone else but McGavin in the part. “I love [Jack],” Clark later said, “but thank God he didn’t [end up with the part] because Darren is the Old Man.” Even better, McGavin, who died in 2006 at the age of 83, was good with kids. Billingsley recalled he “didn’t feel condescended to. A lot of people don’t like child actors,” but McGavin wasn’t one of them. “Ralphie’s mother is the kind of woman

A LEG UP Production designer Reuben Freed’s plan for the leg lamp. Opposite, Ralphie and his mom inspect the Old Man’s prize.

HO L IDAY 2 016 / 2 017

I figure grew up in a family of four or five sisters and married young,” Shepherd said. “She digs the Old Man, but also knows he’s as dangerous as a snake.” Melinda Dillon was cast on the basis of her role as the mom in Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster Close Encounters of the Third Kind. She had begun her career as a coat-check girl at Second City, the improv-comedy theater in Chicago, where she would soon begin performing. At 23, she played the mousy wife, Honey, in the original Broadway production of Edward Albee’s searing drama Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and was nominated for a Tony. She was also nominated twice for an Academy Award—first for Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind and again for Absence of Malice, opposite Paul Newman. In A Christmas Story, Dillon has a sweetly comedic presence that threatens to dissolve into creative anarchy. She’s a vigilant mom but is still a child at heart, apparent when she encourages her youngest, Randy (Ian Petrella), a fussy eater, to pretend he’s a pig at a trough. Randy really gets into it, snorting and plunging his face into his meat loaf and mashed potatoes, while he and his mom dissolve into fits of laughter. “In a way,” Shepherd said, “the movie is about these people, not Christmas or Santa Claus.”

T

Storybook Christmas

he movie was based on a handful of monologues by the comedic radio personality and writer Jean Shepherd. (That’s Shepherd’s folksy, streetwise voice you hear in the voice-over narration as Ralphie’s adult self, telling the tale.) Shepherd’s radio career spanned four decades, ending up at WOR, in New York City. His semi-autobiographical stories were performed without scripts and were characterized by colorful titles, such as “Ludlow Kissel and the Dago Bomb That Struck Back” and “A Fistful of Fig Newtons.” The screenplay adaptation was written by Shepherd himself, along with Bob Clark and Shepherd’s third wife, Leigh Brown. It all started when Clark was in Miami driving to pick up his date, and he heard Shepherd on the radio telling the story of Flick, a boy who is triple-dog-dared into putting his tongue on a metal pole in the dead of winter, instantly freezing it to the pole. Clark had never heard a story told quite like that. He was so enthralled he was 45 minutes late for his date, just circling the block to hear the rest of the story. He resolved right then, “I will do a www.vanityfair.com

VAN IT Y

FAIR

175


movie of this man’s work.” It took 12 years. “There’s a sense of nostalgia built into A Christmas Story,” the actor and director Jon Favreau says. He credits A Christmas Story with being one of the main inspirations for his movie Elf (in which Billingsley had a small role—as an elf). Favreau recalled how he “knew Jean Shepherd’s voice from the radio. My dad used to listen to his monologues on AM radio. I remember hearing it in the car. I think that the combination of the narration, the movie’s classic look, and, of course, Billingsley’s wonderful open face and his performance really drew you into the movie and made you feel connected emotionally.” Fans of Shepherd’s radio monologues include a roster of some of America’s most original performers and writers: Jules Feiffer, Tom Wolfe, Jerry Seinfeld, Penn Jillette (of Penn and Teller), Donald Fagen (of Steely Dan). Seinfeld especially. “He really formed my entire comedic sensibility. I learned how to do comedy from Jean Shepherd,” he once said. Hugh Hefner was also a big fan; he published 23 of Shepherd’s short stories in Playboy, and he would play A Christmas Story late at night at the mansion. He loved it, and the Playboy Bunnies loved it!

176

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

COURTE SY OF CHR ISTI A N D UP ON T

S

hepherd’s stories were first improvised on his radio program in the 50s, 60s, and early 70s. The children’s-book author and Playboy cartoonist Shel Silverstein and Shepherd’s second wife, actress Lois Nettleton, encouraged him to write the stories down. In 1966, they were collected and published in In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash, which became a best-seller. Wildly popular, Shepherd performed at Town Hall in New York City in a sold-out performance, and had three solo shows at Carnegie Hall. Shepherd hated the idea that people thought his work was nostalgic. He described it as “anti-sentimental, as a matter of fact. If you really read it, you realize it’s a put-down of what most people think it stands for—it’s anti-nostalgic writing.” Shepherd’s biographer Eugene Bergmann points out that the line in the film that best describes Shepherd’s attitude toward life is when they’re getting ready for Christmas dinner and the Old Man is sitting in the living room reading the funny papers. “The viewer can see the Bumpuses’ hounds starting to trot past him, but he doesn’t see them, because the paper is blocking his view. HOME FOR CHRISTMAS And, of course, we know what’s This Cleveland going to happen—the hounds house, which was used for the movie, are going to get hold of that is now a major Christmas turkey.” So Shepherd tourist attraction. says, in his voice-over narration, “Ah, life is like that. Sometimes


www.vanityfair.com

VA NIT Y

FAI R

177


Ralphie imagines himself routing Black Bartâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s outlaw


at the height of our revelries, when SON AND A GUN our joy is at its Ralphie seeks zenith, when all is justice with his Red Ryder Carbine most right with the Action 200world, the most unShot Range Model thinkable disasters air rifle. descend upon us.” Even the depiction of Santa Claus himself is anti-nostalgic. He just wants to hang up his suit and go home. And how does he get rid of Ralphie, after Ralphie finally gets to the front of the Santa line but is too overwhelmed to remember what he wants? Santa’s elf pushes him down the exit slide. But Ralphie turns, desperately climbs back up, suddenly remembering to ask for the Red Ryder BB gun. That’s when Santa’s black boot pushes Ralphie in the face, right back down the slide.

F RO M TH E NE A L P E TE RS COL L E CT IO N

I

Tinseltown

t took Bob Clark’s success as the director of the high-grossing grossout movie Porky’s in 1982—which ushered in an era of raunchy teensex comedies—before MGM greenlighted A Christmas Story. That’s not surprising, Billingsley has pointed out: “I think it took so long to get made because the movie, by modern-day standards, is about nothing. It’s a family a couple of weeks before Christmas, and the kid wants a BB gun. That’s not exactly a pitch in which you’d say, ‘Let me get the president of the studio on the phone!’ ” MGM finally gave Clark $4.4 million to make A Christmas Story. According to a 2013 book on the making of the film by Caseen Gaines, he was so eager to make the movie that he gave up his director’s fee and contributed $150,000 of his own money. Once he had his cast assembled, there were production challenges. First was the problem of location. They scouted 20 cities, finally settling on Toronto for the interiors and Cleveland for the exteriors. It was appropriately winter, and cold, in Ohio, but there was no snow that year. Snow had to be hauled in from ski resorts hundreds of miles away. René Dupont, a producer along with Clark, even had additional trucks of snow standing by (that’s what made him so good at his job—anticipating the unanticipated). When the weather got warmer, they concocted falling snow out of potato flakes, used shredded vinyl as snow set dressing, and further employed firefighter’s foam. In vignettes where Ralphie, his friends, and his little snowsuited brother, Randy, are fleeing from Scut Farkus

(the bully “with the yellow eyes”), they are in fact sloshing through foam as if from a washing machine that’s lost its mind. Another brainstorm of Clark’s was to cut the floors out of the set so the camera would be at Peter’s height, at four feet two inches, so that the perspective is not that of the adults looking down on the child actors but Ralphie’s point of view, looking up, trying to make sense out of the frustrating and unfathomable adult world. The set was mostly harmonious, but there was one particular source of friction: Clark and Shepherd didn’t get along. Shepherd was just too protective of his material, looking over Clark’s shoulder and making suggestions. When the director’s back was turned, he would come up to one of the actors with his own ideas of how the character should be played. The director would call “Cut,” and as soon as he left the set, Shepherd would lean in and say to Billingsley, “Ralphie’s really like this.” Bob would come roaring back and say, “Jean, get away from the actors!” Clark had storyboarded every shot in the movie on index cards, down to the smallest detail. He had to quickly countermand Shepherd’s interference—the shoot couldn’t afford two directors. Finally, Clark had to bar Shepherd from the set. Bergmann recalled, “Shepherd was a perfectionist with his own material, but Bob Clark had a budget and a schedule that he had to meet, and he already figured out how this all should be done, and he couldn’t have Shepherd constantly interrupting.” Shepherd does make a cameo appearance in the movie, Hitchcock-like, as a stern older man scolding Ralphie for breaking into the long line to see Santa at Higbees department store. Dupont first met Clark as the English producer on a Sherlock Holmes mystery, Murder by Decree, with Christopher Plummer and James Mason, which Clark was directing. One of Dupont’s two sons, Phil Dupont—currently an assistant director filming the FX series Bones—described his father and Bob Clark as having had an especially collegial working relationship. Dupont was involved in every aspect of the production. His younger son, Christian Dupont, who spent time on the set of A Christmas Story, remembers his father working on the logistical problem of how to film the scene of Flick’s tongue stuck to the metal flagpole. Scott Schwartz, who played Flick, explained how the scene was actually created. They built a plastic pole and drilled a tiny hole in it that sucked in air, so Flick’s tongue

would actually stick to the pole. It was quite a hit with the boys: they all took turns sticking their tongue on the airhole. At one point, everyone left Schwartz standing there stuck to the pole as they scattered for lunch, “just like in the movie when they leave him there, helpless, as the morning bell rings at Warren G. Harding School.” In the fantasy scene in which Ralphie imagines himself routing Black Bart’s outlaw gang with his Red Ryder BB gun (while dressed in a rhinestone shirt and magnificently furry chaps, a cross between Elvis’s jumpsuit and an alpaca), Ralphie spits tobacco juice a couple of times. Actually, it really was tobacco juice. The propman gave Billingsley some Red Man chaw, and within minutes the 12-year-old actor started sweating. “We shut down for an hour or so,” Billingsley recalls, “when I just had to lie down on the couch.” For the rest of the scene, they gave him ground-up raisins to chew on. “This was long before they knew what to do with kid actors.” As for Ralphie’s pink bunny suit, sent by his clueless aunt, who was still laboring under the misconception that Ralphie was four years old, and a girl—“That was rough,” Billingsley reminisced on the 20th-anniversary DVD. “It was quite uncomfortable putting that on in front of the crew—and it was hot! It was nasty.” Or, as his film father described it, it was “like a pink nightmare.” (Billingsley still has the rhinestone cowboy suit and the pink bunny suit in his possession, stored in a vault.)

W

Christmas with the Kids

hen the Old Man wins “a major award” in a newspaper writein contest, he’s over the moon to discover that it’s a full-size, fishnet-stockinged, and high-heeled woman’s leg that has been made into a lamp. “It’s indescribably beautiful,” the Old Man says. He considers it a work of art, placing it in the front window for all his neighbors to see. Ralphie is also impressed with the leg lamp, stroking the shapely limb when it’s excavated from its packing crate. His patient, sweetfaced mom is alarmed. Reuben Freed was the production designer who came up with the design of the leg lamp. He showed Shepherd some sketches of what he imagined it might look like. Clark didn’t let any of the boys see the lamp until the camera was rolling and it was lifted from the huge crate marked FRAGILE (or “Frageelee—it must be Italian,” says the Old Man). So Ralphie’s

gang while dressed in magnificently furry chaps. HO L IDAY 2 016 / 2 017

www.vanityfair.com

VAN IT Y

FAIR

179


rapture as his hand glides up the lamp’s prosthetic fishnet leg—that reaction was totally real. The other members of the cast not in the scene were no less impressed. On the anniversary DVD, R. D. Robb, who played Ralphie’s buddy Schwartz, recalled, “I loved the leg lamp. That thing was sexy as hell.” Most of the young actors—Peter Billingsley, Scott Schwartz (Flick), R. D. Robb, Zack Ward (Scut Farkus), and Yano Anaya (Grover Dill)— stayed in Stouffer’s hotel in downtown Cleveland during the three-month shoot. The city of Cleveland kept its Christmas decorations up for the duration, to help out the small-budgeted movie. As is typical with boys 10 to 14 years old left to their own devices, there were water balloons thrown out of 14th-story windows, middle-of-the-night deliveries of hundreds of dollars’ worth of food, and wet rolls of toilet tissue thrown from windows onto moving buses in the streets below. Or they would knock on doors in the early hours, pretending to be housekeeping, then run away. The Artful Dodger of the group was Scott Schwartz, who at 14 was the oldest and had been on bigger movie shoots before, such as The Toy, in which he co-starred with Richard Pryor and Jackie Gleason. Zack Ward, the redheaded actor in the coonskin hat who played the bully Scut Farkus, said that indeed he does not have, nor has he ever had, yellow eyes, but his red hair gave him that classic, Irish-bully appearance. “I’ve been working since I was a kid, part-time jobs since I was six years old, shoveling snow, working in stores. I grew up poor,” he recalls. Even though Ward had relatively brief screen time in the movie, he made a big impact. “The genius of what Bob did,” he recalls, “was to give me a fantastic, villainous entrance, to the perfect music, Peter and the Wolf—but also a perfect exit. I get beaten up, blood’s coming down my face, I’m crying like a little bitch, the hat comes off, and I’m just a little boy. I don’t know if there’s a better metaphor than that.” Even more daunting is Scut’s little sidekick and toady, Grover Dill, played by Yano Anaya— a diminutive toughie with a gangster’s sneer. “I started when I was about five when my mother got me training [as an actor],” Anaya told V.F. 180

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

He appeared in some commercials and auditioned for A Christmas Story when he was 10. He was surprised to see that more than 100 kids had shown up for the audition, but the next day, he got a callback. “I went in to audition for Bob Clark,” Anaya recalls, “who asked me to do two ‘crazy’ things. So, first, I acted like a rock star—I was into Van Halen then. And then for the second crazy thing, I farted really loud. I got the part.” Ian Petrella was raised in Los Angeles and started acting at the age of three. He was cast to play Randy, Ralphie’s little brother, when he was eight. “Anywhere else in the country,” he says, “if you’ve got a hyperactive kid, most places will put their kids on Ritalin. But in L.A. you take them to a talent agency.” Randy did not have

Ian Petrella, Melinda Dillon, and Peter Billingsley while filming A Christmas Story in Cleveland.

a lot of lines—“He was either giggling or falling down”—so, in the audition, “they were just looking for personality. I happened to have the right personality—very goofball, that’s basically it.”

W

hen the film was released, movie critic Roger Ebert said, “My guess is either nobody will go to see it, or millions of people will go to see it.” The movie was a sleeper, but over the years it grew in popularity. It first appeared on television, on HBO, in 1985, around the time it was released on VHS. “It was the beneficiary of great timing, as videocassettes were becoming popular, so people would start [watching] it on VHS around Christmas,” says Billingsley. VHS tapes were

easy to copy, so samizdat editions began circulating, and the video was prominently displayed in stores during the holidays because it was the most recent Christmas movie available. “People discovered it and began sharing it, and buying it, and ritually watching it, and it just sort of steadily grew.” At the same time A Christmas Story was taking off, MGM was collapsing. Heavily in debt, it sold its film library to Ted Turner in 1986. One of those films was A Christmas Story, which is how it turned up on Turner’s SuperStation cable channel. It was really Turner’s idea to run it as a perennial holiday movie. When Turner Broadcasting merged with Time Warner Inc., in 1997, Time Warner began running the film on a continuous loop, from Christmas Eve through Christmas Day, on TNT (Turner Network Television): 24 hours of A Christmas Story—12 showings over the holiday season (in 2004 it moved to TBS). On the 20th anniversary, “Bob, Peter, Scotty, R.D., Ian, and I were invited to a screening of A Christmas Story in Orange County to benefit Toys for Tots,” says Zack Ward. “We go down, there’s a lineup four people wide, two and a half blocks long, of over a thousand people, and we’re like, What? And the mayor of the town calls it ‘Honorary Christmas Story Day.’ I felt like I was in a Dr. Seuss story. “So little kids come up, I’m signing autographs, and the mommies and daddies are like, ‘Honey, this is Scut Farkus’—and the kids are looking around for Scut Farkus because I’m a grown-ass man, but I still have the red hair and the goofy eyes, and they’re looking around, and their eyes are slowly gelling on my face. And the parents point to a picture, the kids see the picture of me going ‘Rawrrr,’ and then they’re looking back at me, and I lean in and I go, ‘You grow up.’ And they have this little moment where they just kind of numb out. I always get kind of tingly about it because you’re part of that moment with somebody. For a second you’re getting this epiphany—the Farkus epiphany.”

I

New Year’s Hangover

n later years, Billingsley ended up staying away from the conventions and celebrations of A Christmas Story. “I don’t do the conventions,” Billingsley says, “because I was looking forward in my life, pursuing new things. The H OLIDAY

2016/2 017

B ET T Y P ET RE L L A

A Christmas Story


other way is you run from it. I never understood that, especially something that brings a lot of people a lot of joy. And by the way, it’s not going anywhere, so you better get comfortable with it. You can’t remove it from the culture.” Just as A Christmas Story was beginning its perennial life on television, Shepherd’s influence began to recede. Donald Fagen, of Steely Dan, one of Shepherd’s night-owl fans who was transfixed by Shepherd’s “modernist knowingness,” noticed “a strain of grandiosity creeping into Shepherd’s routines… He didn’t drink himself to death like his pal Jack Kerouac, or OD like Lenny Bruce,” Fagen wrote, “but he gradually succumbed to that very real disease of selfloathing and its accompanying defenses.” Shepherd retired to Sanibel Island, on Florida’s Gulf Coast, and passed away in 1999, two years after Turner Broadcasting began its 24-hour Christmas marathon showing of his movie. But long before that, Shepherd had begun dismantling his own legacy, going as far as to renounce his career on the radio—his countless hours spinning tales deep into the night—as “just another gig,” a mere stepping-stone to television and the movies. Shepherd never realized the movie had changed the holiday-feel-good genre forever. Five years after A Christmas Story came Scrooged, Mitch Glazer and Michael O’Donoghue’s marvelous, modern—if not postmodern—takedown of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. And in 2003, Will Ferrell, fresh from the North Pole, would wander into the Lincoln Tunnel in Elf, the same year that Billy Bob Thornton would take the black-booted, disgruntled, department-store Santa of A Christmas Story and blow it up like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon in Bad Santa. So A Christmas Story—despite Shepherd’s disclaimers—has become our cozy, sentimental holiday movie. “I’ve thought about this a lot,” says Billingsley. “I don’t know if it was the first, but it certainly was one of the best embodiments of a real family. There’s tension, there’s some fear of the father, there’s anxiety in the

Sticky Business

C O N T I N U E D F R O M P A G E 1 6 4 Nancy Green, who’d been a slave in Kentucky, to play Aunt Jemima, which she did till her death, in 1923. By the 1930s, General Mills, which had bought the company, had begun to churn

HO L IDAY 2 016 / 2 017

Last Call, 2016 (See page 134) 1

2

3 4

5

12

6

8

9

10

16 17

15

14 13

7

11

18 26

20 19

21

23

24

28

25 27

22 29 30

32 31

34

36

33 35

KEY

(1) Melania Trump, (2) Ivanka Trump, (3) Michael Strahan, (4) Kelly Ripa, (5) Huma Abedin, (6) Alex Rodriguez, (7) Angelina Jolie, (8) Ryan Lochte, (9) Bill Clinton, (10) Loretta Lynch, (11) Colin Kaepernick, (12) Heather Bresch, (13) Hillary Clinton, (14) Matt Lauer, (15) Ghazala Khan, (16) Khizr Khan, (17) Gretchen Carlson, (18) Roger Ailes, (19) Lin-Manuel Miranda, (20) Rupert Murdoch, (21) Jerry Hall, (22) Anthony Weiner, (23) Beyoncé, (24) Martin Shkreli, (25) Elizabeth Holmes, (26) Harold Bornstein, (27) John Stumpf, (28) Sean Hannity, (29) Vladimir Putin, (30) Donald Trump, (31) Mary Berry, (32) Paul Hollywood, (33) Tom Hanks, (34) Katie Ledecky, (35) Ken Bone, and (36) Boris Johnson.

household, there’s very much a sibling battle, there’s a mother trying to hold things together and hold her place, there’s probably financial trouble, the father’s do-it-yourself aspect of the household: nothing is sourced out—he’s going to handle it! Yet through all that, there’s a genuine sense of love and protection within the house, and yet the words ‘I love you’ are never uttered in the movie. Still [one of the last shots] is just that simple gesture touching the mother for the first time in the movie. And in that moment it says all you need to know about that relationship … it tells you how that guy loves her, he’s there for her, and that’s it.” Billingsley also emphasizes that the one person who comes through with the Red Ryder BB gun is the father, the one person Ralphie never asked. The Old Man just knew instinctively what his son wanted. Bergmann noticed that Clark uses as Ralph-

ie’s target on Christmas morning an old metal sign, partially obscured, that says, GOLDEN AGE. “It’s the GOLDEN AGE sign that ricochets that BB back at him and [knocks off] his glasses and almost shoots his eye out,” Bergmann explains. “Talk about irony. You only see that sign, and it’s partly covered, but I’ve seen uncovered versions of it—somebody was selling one on eBay.” But even if our golden age is rusty and obscured and being sold on eBay, A Christmas Story nonetheless reflects a golden age. Zack Ward sums it up: “I’ve seen five-year-old kids squat down in front of the TV and not talk while they’re watching it. There’s no song from Frozen, there’s no dancing, no talking reindeer or snowman. It’s kids, in a time when that fiveyear-old doesn’t care if it’s a little white boy or girl, little black boy or girl, Hispanic, Asian, Jewish—it doesn’t matter: they don’t care. They’re watching it because that’s their family.” 

through Aunt Jemimas, printing up frankly offensive catchphrases such as “Let ol’ Auntie sing in yo’ kitchen.” The Aunt Jemima on the label today is a composite, a dream of antebellum domesticity, the bosomy warmth of Sunday in Dixieland, where Jim calls Huck “honey” as they float down the big river. Why does that trademark still exist? Probably because no group has yet turned its attention to it: #jemimasoracist. Enjoy your view from the Stop & Shop shelf, Aunt Jemima, your days are numbered. Which is what I was thinking about as I drove across Canada, en route to perhaps the holiest place in syrup. America has its Strategic Petroleum Reserve. In case of embargo, nukes, Mad Max. Canada has a Global Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve. In

case of Butterworth, Jemima, who knows what. Jemima stands for everything Canadians distrust about the planet and the syrup much of it consumes. It’s one of the things FPAQ was organized to battle. Phony syrup and its lies, fake backstories cooked up for Aunt Jemima and her pal, Mrs. Butterworth. Caroline Cyr, a spokesperson for the federation—perfect name for a syrup lady—seemed especially irritated by varieties of what is essentially high-fructose corn syrup, products that often decorate their labels with maple trees and log cabins, implying a connection to the forest that simply does not exist. FPAQ fights with advertising and fancy recipes—Crustless Vegetable Quiche with Maple Syrup, Crêpes with Kale and Maple Syrup, Maple-Almond www.vanityfair.com

VAN IT Y

FAIR

181


Sticky Business Truffles—but mostly by controlling the quality and quantity of the product. Hence the Reserve.

H

Barrel In

ere’s how it works: there are 13,500 maplesyrup producers in Quebec. Each is permitted to send a fixed amount to FPAQ for sale that year, a quota that was established in 2004, even as U.S. production has exploded (up 27 percent from 2015). Members of the federation—Quebec’s bulk producers are required to join—give their harvest over to FPAQ, which inspects, tastes, and grades the syrup. Some of it is sold immediately; the rest is stored in the Reserve. Producers are paid only when the syrup is sold, which can mean years. FPAQ keeps $540 for each barrel, a kind of tax that pays for the advertising, the testing of the recipes, the upkeep of the Reserve, and so on. In this way, the federation steadies supply, filling the coffers in banner years, satisfying demand in fallow. In this way, the price of syrup is stabilized, benefiting even the competitors across the border. The Reserve is in Laurierville, a town in the heart of Quebec. Steeples, snowy roads, hills, old men in berets eating croissants at McDonald’s. It’s reached via spotless highways where no one tailgates or cuts you off or honks in anger. It’s just the polite double beep in Quebec, a state of play that seems connected to how most syrup producers have been content to leave the free market for the safety of a cartel. It’s a better life, with less road rage, but also not as colorful, nor as interesting, and forget about the windfall and resulting spree. Caroline Cyr met me at the back door of the Reserve and took me on a tour. As I said, it’s the holy of holies, where oceans of syrup, the accumulated wealth of Canadian forests, hibernates, sometimes for months, sometimes for years. I had a clear mental picture of the Reserve: huge vats, surface crusted and covered with flies; tanks reached by tottering ziggurats; visitors in perpetual danger of falling in and doing the slowest, stickiest, sweetest dead man’s float of all time. In fact, the Reserve, which might hold 7.5 million gallons on a typical day, is a warehouse filled with barrels, white drums stacked from floor to ceiling, nearly 20 feet high. There was a Charles Sheeler–like quality to the place, an industrial awesomeness, the barrels in endless rows, the implied weight of them, persnickety and precise in a way that seems especially Canadian. It’s almost like the life we know, but not quite. It’s so close, yet so different. A treasure trove, with inventory, at any given time, worth perhaps $185 million. The syrup is tested when it comes in, then sent through a Willie Wonka– esque conveyor system where it’s pasteurized

182

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

and sealed in a barrel, forklifted and stacked. Each barrel carries a label with a grade (Extra Light, Light, Medium, Amber, Dark) and percentage. When maple water exits a maple tree, it’s 2 to 4 percent sugar. As it’s boiled, the sugar concentrates. To be syrup, it must be 66 percent sugar. Below that, it’s not stable. Above 69 percent, it turns into something else. Butter. Taffy. Candy. There were two or three guys cruising around on forklifts, in hairnets. “We’re all waiting for the spring,” Cyr told me, “when this place will be filled with barrels.” Being in syrup is like being a tax accountant. Three or four weeks of intensity followed by months of waiting and wondering. I asked Cyr if there’d ever been a spill. She looked at me like I was a fool. I told her about a molasses spill that had once smothered Boston’s North End, a wave that upended trees, drove horses mad, and killed 21. “No,” she said calmly. “We have never had a spill.” The Reserve is a monument to collective planning, to thousands of little guys each giving up a little freedom in return for security. Canadians call this a better life. Americans call it socialism. Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek might call it “the Road to Serfdom.” It’s like all the other roads in Quebec. Calm and predictable, without a single Camaro blasting Bon Jovi, or a sticker of a cartoon man flipping you off while peeing. But it’s had the perverse effect of pooling wealth, of creating just the sort of target Willie Sutton meant when he supposedly said he robs banks because that’s where the money is. Cyr encouraged me to lift one of the barrels. I couldn’t budge it. Imagine trying to steal one of those barrels—now imagine trying to steal 10,000.

I

Inside Job

t was the Lufthansa heist of the syrup world. In the summer of 2012, on one of those July days when the first hint of autumn cools the northern forest, Michel Gauvreau began his precarious climb up the barrels in St.-Louis-de-Blandford, a town outside Laurierville, where part of the Reserve was stored in a rented warehouse. Once a year, FPAQ takes an inventory of the barrels. Gauvreau was near the top of the stack when one of the barrels teetered, then nearly gave way. “He almost fell,” Cyr said, pausing to let the picture form. A small man, astride a tower of syrup, realizing, suddenly, there’s nothing beneath his feet. Normally, weighing more than 600 pounds when filled, the barrels are sturdy, so something was clearly amiss. When Gauvreau knocked on the barrel, it tolled like a gong. When he unscrewed the cap, he discovered it empty. At first, it seemed like this might have been a glitch, a mistake, but soon more punk barrels were found—many more. Even barrels that seemed full had been emptied of syrup and filled with water—a sure sign of thieves who’d covered their tracks. My God, they

could be in Thunder Bay by now! In most cases, when a boring, bureaucratic job turns interesting, there’s trouble. Inspectors called FPAQ HQ and sounded the alarm. Just like that, the facility was swarming with cops. It was a great mystery. There were no security cameras. Who would steal syrup? And, even if some sick bastard wanted to, what would he carry it away in? How far could he get? The investigation was headed by the Sûreté du Québec police, which was soon joined by the Royal Mounties and U.S. Customs. They promised to spare no expense. These heartless criminals would be brought to justice, and the syrup, described as “hot,” would be recovered. About 300 people were questioned, 40 search warrants executed. It was not O.J. and the knife. It was not the bearded doctor and one-armed man. But it was special, strange. There was something stirring about making off with all that syrup; it boggled the mind. It felt less like a crime than a prank, what you might do to your brother if you were all-powerful and he had a lot of syrup. Of course it was serious business to FPAQ; nearly 540,000 gallons of syrup had been stolen—12.5 percent of the Reserve—with a street value of $13.4 million. It became known as the Great Maple Syrup Heist and was said to be among the most fantastic agricultural crimes ever committed, which, granted, is an odd subset. Everyone figured it was people who’d done it—Martians don’t love syrup—but no one could figure out how. “Try to think up the scenario and it’s impossible,” a friendly hotel waiter told me in Montreal. “Syrup is heavy. And sticky. How do you hide it? Who do you get to smuggle it? Where can you sell it? It’s like stealing the salt out of the sea.” It was most likely an inside job. Not a member of FPAQ—though rogue syrup producers have their theories—nor a manufacturer, but a tenant who happened to be renting space in the same facility. That would mean access: keys, ID card, reason to be there. FPAQ supplied the motive. The value of the commodity, the tight control of supply, the resulting black market. (In the postapocalyptic world, as Mad Max runs the gauntlet for petrol, Canucks will be fighting over those last precious drops of genuine maple.) Several conspirators were pursued, including alleged ringleaders Avik Caron and Richard Vallières. Working with a handful of others, some with knowledge of the trade, they apparently went after the bounty like Mickey in the Night Kitchen, dreaming their dream between midnight and dawn, when the world is half realized, insubstantial. According to the prosecutor, the gang would truck barrels out of the Reserve to a sugar shack where they would siphon the syrup in the way you siphon gasoline from a semi, feeding it, a cask at a time, into their own ramshackle barrels and then re-filling H OLIDAY

2016/2 017


PH OTO GRA P H BY CHR I STI NN E M USCHI / TH E NE W YO RK T I ME S / RE DU X

the originals with water. As the operation phone while looking out at the desert sand syrup really is oil. It’s not man-made, nor grew, the masterminds allegedly brought and deep-blue sea; gleaming storage tanks; invented. It’s the land. The people working on accomplices and began siphoning the oil tankers stacked to the horizon. I was ex- in the trade are merely its enablers, acting as syrup directly from barrels in the Reserve. pecting something like that from FPAQ. A middlemen or agents. No one creates syrup. When we sat down, Trépanier spoke about Nearly 10,000 barrels of syrup were stolen gleaming tower, walls covered with maps, and trucked to points south and east, where tacks showing the location of each rogue. I oil, telling me the analogy goes only so far. Oil the market is free. So far, prosecutors have instead found myself in a very non-evil office can be found almost anywhere on the planet, brought four men to trial. outside Montreal, standing beside Simon he said. Sink a drill, you’ll hit it. But maple The case was worked in the textbook way. Trépanier, the tall, sweetly bearded execu- syrup comes only from the red- and sugarChase down every lead, question every wit- tive director of FPAQ, who was pointing out maple forests found in the upper right-hand ness, identify the ringleaders. In December a window, annotating the landscape as if it corner of North America, just where you’d sign your name if this were a test. “That’s 2012, the police arrested two alleged ringlead- were a passage in a book. ers and one other suspect. A large portion of The country around Montreal is strange. why FPAQ is necessary,” he told me. “If one the syrup would ultimately be recovered. It As flat as Illinois, extended sunsets, vistas. country stops producing oil, the slack can be took serious sleuthing. The story of the heist But here and there mountains rise without picked up by others all over the world. But if is currently being developed as a movie, star- the prelude of foothills. Flat, flat, mountain, we have a bad season here, you’re going to ring Jason Segel. I don’t know much about flat, flat. A landscape designed by a person have a year without maple syrup. That’s why the movie, but my guess is the criminals will with no experience in geology, nor knowledge the Reserve is so important.” be the protagonists. That’s how Hollywood of tectonic plates. When I asked Trépanier to Trépanier handed me a drink box, the usually does it. But kind you pack with it’s the cops who lunch. It was filled achieved the miracwith maple water as it comes from the ulous. If it’s hard to tree, before it’s been steal syrup, imagine boiled into syrup, how much harder it butter, taffy. Thick is to recover syrup and not quite delithat’s been stolen. Like oil, syrup is a cious, it made me fungible commodthink of the heavy ity. Once it’s on the water the Nazis market, it’s just syrwere experimenting up. Oil is oil. Syrup with in attempts to is syrup. build an A-bomb. So how did they I sipped it slowly do it? as Trépanier told Gumshoe pome the history of maple syrup, where licework, retracing it comes from, what the footsteps of the it means. In Salem, criminals, following the Wampanoag Intheir trail through the black market, dians taught starva trail that led past ing British farmers LOCK, STOCK, AND BARREL lonely crossroads how to bury a fish Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers communications officer and out of Quebec. head beside corn Caroline Cyr at the Global Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve, 2015. The goods were seeds, a natural ferscattered: some of it in New Brunswick, which explain, he pointed out each mountain—a tilizer that greatly increased yield. In Quebec, is as loose with syrup as Deadwood was with chain of peaks, an archipelago, what the Ca- Indians, probably Algonquins, showed French silver claims; some of it across the border in ribbean might look like if the plug could be trappers how to tap maple trees and collect Vermont, stashed in the factory of a candy- pulled and the sea drained—and said, “Vol- the heavy water that the Indians used as balm maker who swore he had no goddamn idea canoes. Extinct volcanoes. They blew up and and elixir. To Canadians, it’s a story of coopthe syrup was hot. Several of the crooks have died and over time were covered by forests. eration. The Indians had the sap but did not pleaded guilty and have paid fines or are serv- It’s where the city gets its name. Montreal realize its potential until the French brought ing sentences. Vallières has pleaded not guilty comes from Mount Royal.” We stood for a over the cast-iron pots needed to boil it down. to trafficking and fraud. The other alleged moment, looking. And I got the sense that Each side had half, Trépanier explained. When ringleader, Avik Caron, has pleaded not guilty we were looking at something more than a they came together, they made something new. to theft, conspiracy, and fraud. He allegedly panorama, more than the view to the east. Drinking the Forest and cooked up the conspiracy and is to go on trial Peaks and forests, gullies and ravines, hollers the Landscape in January. He could get 14 years, but that’s in and hidden places, the sun rising and falling, Canadian, so I’m not exactly sure. the earth pitched on its axis, winter giving n some ways, François Roberge comes way to spring, time unraveling from solstice across as a man in the midst of a mania. The Giving Tree to solstice. We were looking at the seasons. His wife, charming, exasperated, and game, don’t know what the home office of OPEC We were looking at syrup. It’s why it’s holy seems to think so. He spent part of his childlooks like, but I do know what I think it to French Canadians. They got whipped by hood on a farm in Quebec but left when he looks like. Glass and steel; massive desks the British and have had to live as a minor- was barely out of school. He got a job in the occupied by sheikhs in flowing robes, kaf- ity in their country, but they still retain the lower precincts of the garment trade, then fiyehs, and Vuarnets, quoting prices on the sweet essence of the New World. In this way, worked his way up. He is currently president

I

I

HO L IDAY 2 016 / 2 017

www.vanityfair.com

VAN IT Y

FAIR

183


Sticky Business and C.E.O. of La Vie en Rose, a Canadian lingerie company akin to Victoria’s Secret. More than a dozen years ago, at the insistence of his kids, Roberge bought a chalet on one of those odd peaks outside Montreal. As he does not especially like to ski, he began to cast about for something to do while his family was off on the slopes. In this casting about, he remembered that, when he was on the farm, he enjoyed chopping down trees. For Roberge, felling a fat trunk was like hitting a perfect tee shot. He bought a stretch of forest near the chalet, then went to work with chain saw and ax. There was an operating sugar shack already on the grounds, which was fine with Roberge. His only change was to paint the shack pink, a nod to La Vie en Rose, which means seeing life in pink. He quickly became interested in the works. Then more than just interested. By the time I met Roberge, he was heading two major

Kim Kardashian West

C O N T I N U E D F R O M P A G E 1 5 6 receptionist signed the letter with a pseudonym: “The Night.” The letter went around the world, but with no apparent response from Kim. So “The Night,” a 39-year-old man from northern Algeria, who would later say he had “lived through the Algerian terrorist period” and was familiar with the horrors of death and mayhem, went public, using only the name Abdulrahman. He left his job and did several interviews, which, I was told, by French law he had the right to do, since he was also a victim of the crime.

I

Au Voleur!

n an interview with me, Abdulrahman elaborated: “What pushed me to go before the media was the enormous amount of false speculations, which did not stop, and especially that they were directed at Kim, accusing her of inciting the incident for insurance purposes.” Abdulrahman explained to me that “I didn’t work directly for the hotel but for a security enterprise, which works at the hotel, but generally speaking it is my principal workplace. I also work in several other important locations in Paris. I am a doctoral student at

184

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

operations. One cranks out underwear, teddies, sexy garments, swimwear. The other cranks out syrup. Fifty-four barrels last year, boiled off and loaded up and sent into the world. During the season, he’s at his desk in Montreal from six till noon, then in his car, barreling down those super-polite highways, then in the woods, working the lines. He led me through his forest, which was as white and pristine as a forest in a storybook, crossed by a river that triumphed in a waterfall. He wore rubber boots and a heavy coat and moved fast, smiling as he talked. He showed me the network of tubes that suck sap from the trees like poison from a snakebite. He explained the process, how the tubes carry sap to a tank where excess water is drained away, and how what’s left continues on to the sugar shack. We sat in a warm room in back of the shack, the pasteboard walls covered with mounted animal heads, which I contemplated—is that a wolverine?—as he loaded me with the products of his operation. Taffy. Butter. Little maple-leaf

candies you stop eating only when you feel ill. We talked about rogue producers, wildcatters angry at the cartel. He thought a moment, then said, “But, you know, when you get into the politics, it’s easy to forget what this is all about.” He led me to the barnlike main room of his facility, where he stood beside a gleaming stainless-steel machine that cooks maple water down to 66 percent sugar. It was being tended to by a master, Roberge’s mentor. Friendly and warm, the master explained everything in a language I don’t understand, but by following his gestures and eyes I could see where the water came in and how it worked its way through the pipes and tanks, exiting into a bowl as syrup. Roberge poured me a glass. Golden, blond. I waited for it to cool, then sipped slowly, as if it were 20-year-old scotch. It went to my head in the same way, delicious and pure. Like drinking the forest, the landscape. Roberge filled several jugs for me, the first batch of the season. They were still warm when I got back to Montreal. 

the University of Paris, Sorbonne, studying semiotics and speech analysis.” According to what Abdulrahman told Entertainment Tonight, three men appeared at the glass door of the Hôtel de Pourtalès. Abdulrahman, thinking their all-black garb indicated they were French police, opened the door, and quickly there was a pistol at his back and cuffs on his wrists. “Where are the security cameras?” one of them asked, to which Abdulrahman responded that there weren’t any. “Are you kidding me?” the thief replied, then asked how many rooms were in the hotel, and if any had safes. Told there were 11 residences, the robber said, “Oh, that is nice—we will do them all.” “They were not professional at all,” Abdulrahman added of the thieves, whose ages he estimated as between 40 and 50. “They were confused. They were improvising… They told me, ‘Don’t panic. We’re here for money.’ ” They inquired about Kanye West. “I told him, ‘The rapper is not here,’ and he was upset, like, ‘Don’t play with me like this. I mean, the wife of the rapper,’ ” recalled the night receptionist. The robbers decided to hit the Sky Penthouse first, where Kim was awake in bed in a white bathrobe, alone. Her longtime bodyguard, Pascal Duvier, who had been at her side throughout Fashion Week, had been sent off to guard Kourtney and their half-sister, Kendall Jenner, at L’Arc Paris, a nightclub that doesn’t get started until after one A.M.

him open it with a key from the front desk. Kim heard someone in the suite and asked, “Hello?” But nobody replied. Two of the men burst in. As she screamed, one of them pulled her out of bed. “He attacked her, holding his gun in her face,” Abdulrahman has said. “She was crying, she was screaming, saying, ‘Don’t kill me, I have babies, don’t kill me, please, I have babies! I’m a mom! Take whatever you want!’ She was wearing a white bathrobe and her hair was tied up.” A letter from her attorney Martin Singer to the Huffington Post, obtained by TMZ, said that both Kim and the concierge “believed they might be killed at any moment.” Now the night receptionist became hostage, negotiator, and translator. “I tried to calm her because the guy was crazy,” Abdulrahman told Entertainment Tonight. “He was screaming, and also Kim was screaming, and he told me to shut up. I told her, ‘Shut up, shut up, please calm down.’ ” “When I tried to calm her, she asked me, ‘Are we going to die?’ ” he said. “I told her, ‘I don’t know.’ ” “D’argent! D’argent! D’argent!” the thieves demanded: Some money! Some money! Some money! But Kardashian West had only around $1,000 in euros. “She believed that he was there for the ring,” Abdulrahman told Inside Edition, and she handed one of them her 20-karat diamond ring. “He takes it like this [he pantomimed the thief examining the ring, dismissively] and said, ‘It’s nice,’ ” and put it in his pocket. The thieves bound Kim’s wrists and ankles, repeatedly asking her for money. After

T

he wooden door to the suite had a single lock, no bolt. The thieves “marched” the night receptionist to the door “by the scruff of his neck,” according to the Mail, and made

H OLIDAY

2016/2 017


she began screaming, according to Abdulrahman’s account in the Daily Mail, one thief taped her mouth shut with “a long piece of tape, all the way around her head,” and she was carried into the bathroom, where she was placed on the floor.

T

hey were apparently ready to move on to the other 10 residences, but Kim’s cell phone lit up with a call from Pascal Duvier. “I told them, ‘You know who is ringing now? It is her bodyguard. If she doesn’t answer, he will come with police.’ ” The job was cut short, and the thieves left with a score beyond their wildest imaginings: the 20-carat diamond ring and a jewelry box containing 12 other items— whose total value has been estimated at $5.6 million. Having been in the building for only 49 minutes, they departed, several on their bicycles, some exposing their faces to an adjacent business’s security camera. “The bag with the jewelry hangs from the handlebars of one of the thugs… The bag appears to contain Kim Kardashian’s stolen jewels,” reported Le Parisien. The next day, a resident on Rue Tronchet found Kardashian West’s platinum cross, worth an estimated $31,000, on the sidewalk near the hotel and turned it in to the police, who, according to the newspaper, “deduced that one of the criminals had fallen off his bike while getting away.” Escaping her bondage, Kim found her longtime friend and stylist Simone Harouche, who had been asleep in the downstairs bedroom and had locked herself in a bathroom after “hearing the commotion,” according to E! News. Harouche had already called Duvier and Kourtney. The police arrived a few minutes after the robbery, sealing off the crime scene, gathering evidence, and interviewing the victims. After signing a statement, Kardashian West was able to leave the country that morning. An investigating judge was appointed to the case, to work with both the prosecutor and Kim’s attorney. On the morning after, in the hothouse atmosphere of the Paris fashion shows, the robbery was “debated like a trend or a new designer,” said one fashion leader who attended HO L IDAY 2 016 / 2 017

the shows. “Some people hated it. Some people loved it. At one show, I sat between two people with opposing views. On one side was a person who was really upset by the whole episode and said it was appalling that someone should be robbed and held at gunpoint, and that it was a shame for France. On my other side was someone who said that she had no compassion for the incident because of how much Kim flaunted her extravagance, particularly those rings, on social media. Both made

CLICK CLICK ZOOM Photographer Marc Piasecki, outside the Hôtel de Pourtalès, in Paris.

valid points.” (Kim refrained from using social media for an entire month, but then couldn’t resist posting a sexy photo of herself to promote a line of cell-phone cases.)

B

To Catch a Thief

ecause of the star status of the victim, and the value of the jewelry, the case is being handled by the elite Paris crime unit La Brigade de Répression du Banditisme, known as the B.R.B., a brigade of 100 plainclothes P H OTO G R APH

BY

TOM WATSON

officers specializing in armed robbery and organized crime, led by Madame Commissioner Agnes Zanardi, an expert in the “smash and grab” jewel robberies that have plagued luxury jewelry shops in Paris. Kardashian West has hired one of the most famous lawyers in France, Jean Veil, son of the politician and former minister of health Simone Veil. Jean’s clients have included former French president Jacques Chirac, L’Oréal heiress Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers, and former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Two weeks after the robbery, on French television, Veil said that Kardashian West would return to France if summoned by the judge. In another television interview, the attorney added, “I found her particularly calm, serene, in a matter that must have upset her very much, when we know the conditions in which she was actually assaulted: tied up, with a gun towards her. We shall see what happens next.” Every morning, the brigade briefs the police chief on the progress of their investigation in a conference room adjacent to the office where I sat with the chief, who told me, “We can say that there is a professional team that committed this crime, and they seem to be organized,” he said. “That’s why the B.R.B. is on the case. The B.R.B. has experience with people who attack with arms, and a big part of the brigade is now working on the Kim Kardashian case.” Some say that nothing less than the image of this great city hinges on solving the crime, as the robbery has become a Kardashianstyle media sensation, discussed, dissected, and debated worldwide. Even Hillary Clinton took time from the presidential campaign to exclaim on television, when asked about the robbery, “Wow. I felt really bad for her.” And the mayor of Paris’s Eighth Arrondissement, where the robbery occurred, told Paris Match, “The whole world is talking about this story … because it’s Kim Kardashian. The image of Paris will still take a hit. We must stop these offenders as soon as possible!” Chief Sainte said, “I’m very confident,” when asked about the pressure he and the www.vanityfair.com

VAN IT Y

FAIR

185


Kim Kardashian West B.R.B. are under to catch the thieves. The pressure is intensified, considering that Paris has lost an estimated $1 billion in tourism revenue since the 2015 terrorist attacks. “It’s important because of the implication: Is Paris secure? It’s important economically. So that’s another reason why it is important for us to solve this case,” he adds.

I

ndirect victims of the crime were the photographers of Paris, who were robbed of their revenue with Kim’s departure. Like the city’s police chief, they were awakened with news of the heist. “Colleagues saying, ‘There’s been a problem with Kim!’ ” says Marc Piasecki. He raced from his home in the suburbs into the city on his scooter, but it was too late. “My colleagues told me she had left the Hôtel de Pourtalès at 7:15 A.M., going straight to Le Bourget Airport,” he says. “Two colleagues

Jennifer Lawrence

communication. I found it startlingly refreshing. It’s nice to work with somebody and know exactly where they stand. She’s a boss. It’s pretty awesome.”

C O N T I N U E D F RO M PAG E 143

L

Ingénue to Star

awrence was not always so assertive. Last year, after the Sony hack revealed a gender wage gap among the American Hustle cast, Lawrence took responsibility for not realizing her worth and negotiating for it. “I’m over trying to find the ‘adorable’ way to state my opinion and still be likable! Fuck that,” she wrote in an essay for Lenny, an e-mail newsletter co-created by Lena Dunham. Although Lawrence was the first to admit that her particular problems as a workingwoman “aren’t exactly relatable,” her sentiments— about being concerned that others like her rather than fighting for herself—were, and the essay went viral. “I feel like something really clicked when I was 25,” Lawrence reflects. “It’s not as scary to say what you mean anymore. Remember how scary that used to be? Like ‘What if they think I’m mad at them?’ Now it’s like ‘They better think I’m mad!’ ” After a quarter-

186

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

of mine followed the black van to the airport, and a photographer friend showed me his photos of Kim leaving Paris. She was walking on the tarmac with her bodyguard, and she had a black blanket over her head.” He looks down at his lap, mournfully. “It was like night had come during the day,” he says. “The whole family left. Kim was supposed to attend other shows, major shows: Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu. But they left! My first thought was The dream is over. I’m not kidding. There are lots of photographers thinking that. She’ll never come back. There will be lots of security. [In fact, a month after the heist Pascal Duvier was dismissed and replaced with a security detail of three men for Kendall’s 21st-birthday party at a Los Angeles restaurant.] There will be a before and an after. This was the only big, major celebrity that we were authorized to take photos of without any problem. We could talk to her! So it’s hard.” I think Piasecki might get emotional, but then he pulls himself together to tell me

century spent concerned about how others perceive her, Lawrence has turned a corner and, as evidenced by her Passengers paycheck and on-set confidence, has begun asserting herself. For the first leg of her career, Lawrence’s stoic Hunger Games heroine, Katniss Everdeen, was an inspiration to young women. Now she doesn’t need the cloak of character to empower audiences. Although she’s gotten career advice from some of her Oscar-winning predecessors, such as Shirley MacLaine and Jodie Foster, Lawrence has come of age as an actress in an undeniably new Hollywood frontier—one marked by declining ticket sales, expanding distribution channels, omnipresent paparazzi, and fans literally stalking their idols on the street and via social media in a relentless hunt to feed a never-ending Internet appetite. Despite these pressures, Lawrence has gracefully leapt from endearingly unvarnished ingénue to white-hot star without succumbing to the demons that ensnare even non-celebrities her age. Her greatest struggle has been privacy. And while she has adjusted to her hordes of fans, she does offer them a gentle caution: “You might think you know me, but when you approach me you’re a total stranger to me and I’m scared.” She sighs. “I get very protective of my space. It took me a long time to be able to do that. But if I’m eating dinner and somebody comes up and a flash goes off from someone’s iPhone camera, I am really rude to that person. Then other people at the restaurant will see and be like, ‘Oh, damn, I don’t want to do that.’ Privacy is a full-time job and I work very hard at it.” As part of this mission, Lawrence does not comment on her dating life past Hoult. She neither confirms nor denies the reported ro-

how an idea struck him in the wake of the robbery: to gather his fellow photographers in a rare token of solidarity. “To show our support to Kim, we have taken a photo of a group of almost 25 French photographers standing in front of the Eiffel Tower,” he says. All 25 laid their cameras on the ground in homage. Because the paparazzi showed their faces, which would swiftly end their ability to shoot from the shadows, they made only one copy of the picture and sent it only to Kim, with a salutation: To Kim and the Kardashians We don’t love you because we need you We need you because we love you All the very best Your favorite French paps

Then they picked up their cameras and headed back into the streets. “Miranda Kerr was arriving from Los Angeles,” explained Piasecki. At press time, no arrests had been made. 

mance she had with Coldplay front man Chris Martin in the summer of 2015. More recently, the gossip mill linked her to Aronofsky. Don’t look to Lawrence to confirm the rumor, though. In an age of unabashed oversharing, she is a throwback in that she has perfected the now ancient art of personal discretion—a tremendous feat, considering her age and station as one of the most public figures in the world. Sure, she’ll offer fans delectable personal details (see: her confession to having a crush on Larry David), but only on her terms.

I

t helps that, in a culture measured in clicks and likes, friends and followers, she stays off social media, her only Web footprint being the obligatory Facebook fan page. Despite her efforts, she is still popculture catnip and top gossip fodder for the glossies. She doesn’t read the rumors (“I try to just live in a nice little imaginary cocoon”), but her relatives do—and buy into each tabloid twist with the rest of America. “My brother asked me the other day, ‘Everybody online thinks you and Amy [Schumer] aren’t friends anymore,’ ” she says, annoyed. “And I said, ‘Oh, really, because everything online is always true.’ ” (For the record, she and Schumer are still friends and are planning on starring, once their schedules relax, as sisters in a comedy they wrote together.) Her own online interests skew more medical than movie-star, and she tends to fall down Google rabbit holes searching for “funnylooking bacteria.” (“I’m sure you do that all the time,” she deadpans.) Lawrence says the first book she read was called How My Body Works, and she requested autopsy books for her last birthday. Despite her lifelong curiosity, she says she has always been “too emoH OLIDAY

2016/2 017


tional” to actually consider medicine as a career. But it doesn’t seem coincidental that she found another way to study humans—by playing them on-screen. But it is not just her curiosity and one-inseven-billion charisma that renders her Hollywood’s rare double-barreled movie star—able to attract mass audiences and critical recognition. Francis Lawrence, who directed most of the Hunger Games series (and is not related to Jennifer), has his own theory about Lawrence’s superpowers. “Jen is the most in-tune person I’ve ever met,” he said. “It’s uncanny, but her gift is that she can read people so quickly and use that on-screen. I would hate to date her because you would never be able to get away with anything.” “She has unbelievable clarity,” Stone echoed. “She can witness a situation or meet a person and see through the entire thing almost instantly. It’s stunning.” When I bring up this compliment, Lawrence waves it off. She has a different way of describing her depth of perception. “I’m a good bullshit detector,” she says, digging her manicured nails into the bowl of popcorn sitting on the table between us. A waiter

Brian Chesky

instantaneously appears and whisks it away without explanation. “Ever since I was a kid, I was always calling shit out,” she says, an eye still on the waiter, who returns with a new bowl of popcorn and disappears again. “See, they were totally aware that was stale!” Lawrence crows, her silent hunch proven correct. She plunges her hand back into the bowl. “I knew!”

A

lthough it seems that Lawrence has already conquered Hollywood, the Oscar winner has an offscreen ambition she’s kept closely guarded. “The directing bug hit me two years after I got the acting bug,” she admits. “But in the same intense way, only I haven’t been able to get better at it because I haven’t had time to do it yet.” To prepare, she has studied each filmmaker she’s worked with, from Russell to Aronofsky, carefully compiling notes. Granted, Hollywood has plenty of actors publicly eager to move behind the camera. What makes Lawrence somewhat unique in this scenario is that she demurs from discussing the aspiration any further. That’s the thing about Lawrence: she may be Hollywood’s most charmingly unpreten-

will again next year. Says Buffett, “I would like to invest retroactively.”

I

a night. Airbnb, still privately held, won’t disclose revenue or losses, but it reportedly hit $900 million in revenue in 2015. It has raised more than $4 billion in outside equity and debt financing; its investors include a Who’s Who of Silicon Valley venture-capital firms (Greylock, Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz) and a number of high-profile individuals, such as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Tech start-ups typically burn through their investors’ money; Airbnb, on the other hand, generates cash. The site takes payment immediately when a traveler books a stay and remunerates its hosts after the trip begins—on average 40 days later. “It’s a huge business,” says Warren Buffett, the C.E.O. of Berkshire Hathaway, who has met with Chesky and advised him on management issues. Buffett has watched Airbnb’s growth in his hometown of Omaha. Two years ago, during Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting, hundreds of attendees began staying at Airbnb rentals. It happened again this year, and likely C ON T I N U E D F RO M PAGE 16 0

HO L IDAY 2 016 / 2 017

Code Name: Snow White

n the summer of 2007, Chesky was unemployed, living in Los Angeles, and trying to figure out what to do with his life. He picked up a book that he says changed everything for him—a 912-page biography of Walt Disney, The Triumph of the American Imagination, by Neal Gabler. “I was living one life, kind of going down the predictable road, and I read this biography,” Chesky says, one bright morning at Airbnb headquarters. “That had a huge impact on me.” While other start-up founders are known for their edginess (Uber’s Travis Kalanick, Tesla’s Elon Musk), Chesky is unblinkingly earnest. (“He has no negative ego,” says angel investor Shervin Pishevar.) Chesky can recite episodes from the animator’s life by heart: the fraught production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the public ridicule heaped on the early days of Disneyland, the near bankruptcies. He credits the book with helping him make the decision to move to San Francisco, to start Airbnb—and now to re-invent the company. After reading the biography for a second time, in 2011, Chesky hired a Pixar artist to draw storyboards depicting an Airbnb customer’s experience from the moment he or she leaves home. Out of 33 storyboards, only two depicted the traveler at an Airbnb home. Chesky realized the lodging business was just a small part of what Airbnb could become. (Copies of these storyboards now hang in Air-

Ê ON THE COVER Jennifer Lawrence wears a dress by Dior. Hair products by Kérastase Paris. Makeup products and nail enamel by Dior. Hair by Odile Gilbert. Makeup by Fulvia Farolfi. Manicure by Jenna Hipp. Set design by Colin Donahue. Produced on location by Anthony Graneri. Styled by Jessica Diehl. Photographed exclusively for V.F. by Peter Lindbergh at the Studios at Paramount, in Hollywood. For details, go to VF.com/credits.

tious conversationalist. But at the end of the day, she is not satisfied to simply discuss. As her résumé shows, this 26-year-old would rather get right into the action. And with her near future fully booked, and her newfound confidence in place, we likely won’t know anything about Lawrence’s next chapter until she turns that page herself. “I would prefer to just do it,” she says, smiling and flicking the last of the popcorn into her mouth. 

bnb offices around the world.) In the fall of 2014, Chesky focused on developing an idea, not yet fully formed, on which he believed the company’s future hinged. He gave co-founder Nate Blecharczyk responsibility for daily operations of Airbnb’s homes business. It was an insane time to switch gears: Airbnb’s growth was exploding. That year, listings were about to reach a million for the first time; the company was hiring hundreds of new employees; it was opening a dozen new offices, from Beijing to São Paolo, and had just built a new, 170,000-square-foot headquarters in San Francisco. Still, Chesky felt compelled to start plotting Airbnb’s next move. “I had this sense of urgency or crisis,” he says. “You can’t stay the same.” He began to think about how to turn Airbnb into the kind of company whose name has the power to persuade consumers to try anything it sells. “If Nike decides it’s going to create a hotel or Apple says it’s going to create a hotel, I want to check out the Apple or the Nike hotel,” says Chip Conley, a hotel-industry veteran, whom Chesky hired to help him bolster the Airbnb brand. “If Dell were going to create a hotel, I don’t know if people would really seek it out as much.” Chesky asked his friend, mentor, and Airbnb investor Jeff Bezos for advice. He wanted to know how Bezos decided to shift Amazon from selling books to, well, everything when critics said the move was folly. Chesky says Bezos told him, “If you don’t want to be criticized, don’t do anything.” In the beginning, when his plan was still amorphous and unshaped, Chesky called www.vanityfair.com

VAN IT Y

FAIR

187


Brian Chesky the new project by the code name Snow White—in a nod to his hero. He started with a small team, just him and six others. Today the group has 200 people. (Airbnb has 2,500 employees.) They work out of a separate space within Airbnb headquarters, away from the bustle of everything else happening at the company. In the weeks before the launch of the new service, the team will work around the clock. There are more than 500 new trips and a marketing campaign to review, and the mobile app needs to be redesigned to accommodate the excursions that will be added to the site. Chesky loves it. “Brian operates really well in a time of crisis,” say Elissa Patel, his girlfriend, a technology executive turned artist whom he met on Tinder. Chesky has urged his team to think cinematically. He even had some of them read a book on screenwriting. Using the Pixar storyboard as their model, the team began documenting real travelers on real trips. They learned that most tourism is pretty boring: marching through museums and monuments no local would ever visit. They also learned that travelers would be willing to scrap these in favor of more unusual, memorable excursions—such as a midnight bike ride or a costume party. One of the hardest problems that his team needed to tackle was how to offer these kinds of supposedly unique trips to an audience of millions of potential customers. “We spent 160 hours handcrafting each trip,” says Chesky. “We couldn’t figure out how to make the economics work.” In order for trips to be profitable for guides, each excursion needs about six to eight travelers; for Airbnb to make money, millions of tourists need to participate. To help both sides get the scale they need, the company is using a concept it calls “batching,” in which Airbnb uses its data and algorithms to match the preferences of travelers with guides. (The guides set their own prices and cover their costs.) The hospitality industry is right there with Airbnb. In September, Marriott launched a program that aims to give guests access to local artists and musicians. Travel site Booking.com started Booking Experiences this summer, a service to help travelers find and reserve events.

C

hesky grew up in Niskayuna, New York, on the outskirts of Albany. He dreamed of playing professional hockey. His parents, two social workers, put him on skates almost as soon as he could walk. He was small for his age but determined not to let his stature get in his way. He studied short players of the National Hockey League to learn a style that would allow him to outskate bigger players. One whose style in particular he copied was Pavel Bure—“the Russian Rocket”—known for his ability to accelerate quickly, unexpectedly.

188

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

It was art, not hockey, though, that would lead him out of upstate New York. “Brian came in with his portfolio. I remember him being nervous about it,” says Sue Ellen Williams, a former art teacher at Niskayuna High School, recalling the time Chesky showed up in her classroom with some drawings. She was stunned by his talent. “When you think of a hockey player you think of gross motor skills. Brian had incredible fine motor skills as well,” says Williams, now 50 years old. She encouraged him to attend Rhode Island School of Design, where he would meet Joe Gebbia, with whom he would start Airbnb. When Chesky and Gebbia launched AirBed & Breakfast, in the fall of 2007, they weren’t expecting much. They were art-school kids, not coders. (Third co-founder Blecharczyk, a Harvard-trained software engineer, joined a few months later.) At first, they were looking for a way to make rent by building a Web site to advertise space in their living room where tourists could sleep on air mattresses. Even after the site became more popular, few thought Airbnb was a billion-dollar idea. “I remember we were talking to an investor who was drinking a smoothie, and halfway through the conversation he gets up and he just leaves,” says Chesky, who declines to name the guy who bolted. “And we thought he just like … I don’t know, had to [move] his car. I haven’t heard from him since.” Mike Maples, a partner at the Floodgate venture-capital firm, admits he didn’t think people would welcome strangers into their home and passed on an opportunity to invest in one of Airbnb’s earliest fund-raising rounds. “It still pains me,” he says.

W

Growing Pains

hen Chesky and his co-founders started Airbnb, nearly a decade ago, none of them, or anyone else, could have predicted the consequences of what they are building. By turning every home into a potential place of commerce, Airbnb has forced its hosts and communities to address a knot of regulatory and liability issues. More broadly, Airbnb— along with Uber and a few others—is at the center of an ongoing debate about the future of work and the impact of technology on society and culture. Airbnb likes to advertise how it has helped families make mortgage payments and even stave off foreclosure by providing them with new income streams. “Home-sharing has been an economic life preserver,” a young mother in Queens testifies in a current TV spot running in New York City. But local officials such as Jumaane Williams, a New York City councilman who represents a swath of Brooklyn, don’t buy Airbnb’s claims that it is preserving home ownership. “I liken them to drug dealers,” says Williams, who suggests that whatever new income Airbnb brings into a neighborhood is outweighed by unruly visitors, rising rents, and absentee owners. A re-

cent Pennsylvania State University study—paid for by a hotel lobbying group—found 40 percent of booking revenues in 14 major U.S. cities come from hosts with multiple listings on Airbnb, likely professional Airbnb operators. The watchdog site Inside Airbnb produced a study that showed landlords in Venice Beach, California, can make four times more listing a property on Airbnb for a year than leasing it to a single tenant. A recent Harvard University experiment found that guests with distinctively African-American-sounding names were 16 percent less likely than guests with Caucasian-sounding names to be accepted by Airbnb hosts. Earlier this year, the hashtag #airbnbwhileblack gained traction on Twitter as consumers started sharing experiences of rejected or canceled stays. Chesky has enlisted a team of connected political insiders to help the company defuse criticism and lobby lawmakers. Chris Lehane, a former aide to President Bill Clinton who joined Airbnb last year as head of global policy, now has several hundred people on his team, up from a dozen or so in 2013. Lehane’s team has organized Airbnb’s hosts into “clubs” (really, they are political-advocacy blocs) that the company can deploy in any city that gives Airbnb trouble. The clubs can be surprisingly effective: hosts in Chicago used tweets and petitions to successfully lobby lawmakers to enact new rules favorable to Airbnb. Lehane admits the company in its early days failed to work with cities and disgruntled customers; now he urges his staff to be proactive. In Philadelphia, for example, Airbnb created a system to help the city track professional Airbnb listers so that officials could regulate those businesses differently from the way they did occasional hosts. To address the racial-bias allegations, Airbnb hired Eric Holder, former attorney general of the United States, and Laura Murphy, formerly of the American Civil Liberties Union, to help it draft new rules for hosts and an anti-discrimination policy. Lehane’s talk about collaboration with lawmakers loses persuasiveness when he lapses into a Silicon Valley–like tendency to characterize regulators and regulations as hopelessly out of step with technology. “We have to actually help cities understand what tools they need to move from the horse and buggy to the car,” he says.

O

ne evening in downtown Los Angeles, a newly recruited Airbnb Trips guide walked me through her plans to offer a threeday wine tour of her neighborhood, Echo Park. A sunny, knowledgeable sommelier with a YouTube channel dedicated to wine tasting, she was recruited by Airbnb for her expertise and her open personality. On our trip, she took us to the home of a friend, a guitar-maker, to drink and learn about local wines. She’s a highly educated, tech-savvy millennial who understands that her future depends on how well she can navigate the fast-changing digital world. Who H OLIDAY

2016/2 017


CREDITS needs to go to a wine store or consult an expert when there’s an app to do the job? Indeed, much of Silicon Valley is building technologies that will most certainly displace the need for human labor. “We’re at the beginning stages of becoming a robotics company,” Uber C.E.O. Travis Kalanick said at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit this fall. Driverless cars may soon replace the need for Uber drivers. Software can now read and annotate legal documents faster and more efficiently than lawyers can. Surgeons may soon find parts of their jobs done by machines. Even hotel clerks may become obsolete as the big hotel chains experiment with software that allows a guest to check in and unlock his or her door with a smartphone. Chesky, however, sees a bright future for people like the cheerful sommelier and other members of the creative class. The company relies on human labor, and Airbnb Trips, he argues, is technology in the service of bringing people together, to experience new things in real life, not on screens. And in

Cyber-hack

C O N T I N U E D F R O M P A G E 1 4 9 thought a link included in the e-mail looked suspicious. Marczak discovered that clicking it took the user to a Microsoft Word document that contained only a logo and a description for the fake “the Right to Fight” group—while secretly inserting spyware onto the user’s computer. He checked with other Persian Gulf dissidents and found that many had received the same strange e-mail and had already clicked the link. As Citizen Lab often did, Marczak gave this unknown attacker a code name: Stealth Falcon. Once Marczak identified the server that had sent the e-mail, he “fingerprinted” it and began to search the Internet for other machines with the same fingerprint. There were hundreds. Each had a domain name. Most were registered with a “privacy protection” service, meaning Marczak couldn’t learn who had registered the domains. But about 10 weren’t. Checking the names and addresses of the entities that had registered the sites, he realized the information was all fake. So he checked to see if these fictitious users had created other sites. One had. It had created three domain names, all impersonating a popular Web site

HO L IDAY 2 016 / 2 017

Photographs: clockwise from top left, © Philippe Halsman/Magnum Photos, from the Life Images Collection/ Getty Images, © Sukita/Morrison Hotel Gallery, from mptvimages .com, from Avalon, from Trunk Archive, from the New York Post Archives/Getty Images, from Trunk Archive, from Redferns/ Getty Images, from the Condé Nast Archive, © Douglas Kirkland, from the Life Images Collection/Getty Images. PAGES 166–67: Styled by Skye Kelton. Jennifer Robertson’s dress by Boss; shoes by Michael Michael Kors. Eugene Levy’s clothing and shoes by Boss. Catherine O’Hara’s clothing by PAGES 119–22:

Hervé Léger by Max Azria; shoes by Giuseppe Zanotti Design; necklace by Chanel; rings by Aurélie Bidermann and Chanel. Dan Levy’s suit by Alexander McQueen; shirt and tie by Dior Homme; shoes by Saint Laurent Paris. Annie Murphy’s dress by Monse; shoes by Stuart Weitzman; earrings by Oscar de la Renta; bracelet by Eddie Borgo. Emily Hampshire’s top by Pink Tartan; pants by Boss; shoes by Converse. Sarah Levy’s dress by Club Monaco; shoes by Pierre Hardy; bracelet by Eddie Borgo. Dustin Milligan’s clothing by Maison Margiela; shoes by Boss. Tim Rozon’s shoes by Harris for Davids. Hair products

by Kevin Murphy. Makeup products by Charlotte Tilbury, MAC, and Tom Ford. Hair by Taylor Byers (Dan Levy, Milligan, Rozon), Annastasia Cucullo (Chris Elliott, Hampshire, Sarah Levy, Robertson), and Ana Sorys (Eugene Levy, O’Hara, Murphy). Makeup by Ricky Boudreau (Sarah Levy, Milligan, Rozon), Lucky Bromhead (Hampshire, Murphy, O’Hara), and Candice Ornstein (Elliott, Dan Levy, Eugene Levy, Robertson). Set design by Caitlin Doherty. Produced on location by Full Serve Productions. FOR DETAILS, GO TO VF.COM/CREDITS.

Chesky’s mind the excursions will provide talented individuals—some of them former lawyers, surgeons, and Uber drivers perhaps—with a source of income or even a livelihood. “It’s very easy to tell you 10 jobs that may or may

not exist in the future,” Chesky says. “What will humans do in the future? They will do things only humans can do.” If Chesky’s gambit pays off, Airbnb may very well be the thing standing between us and the robots. 

for Arab news and gossip. Digging deeper, he found each was associated with something called “SMSer.net.” When he searched the Internet for servers with “SMS” in their domain names, he found about 120, almost all associated with mobile-phone companies in developing countries such as Mexico and Mozambique. Next Marczak checked who had registered these domain names. Most of the street addresses associated with the domain names were seemingly located in Israel. “That’s when I thought, Hmm, I wonder if this is NSO,” he remembers. NSO Group was a six-year-old Israeli spyware company so secretive it didn’t even have a corporate Web site. Marczak knew of it from a single entry on an Israeli Ministry of Defense Web site, in which the company claimed to have developed cutting-edge spyware. Checking further, he was surprised to find that two years earlier it had sold a controlling stake in its business to Francisco Partners, a San Francisco hedge fund, for $120 million. Though he strongly suspected NSO software was being used in the Stealth Falcon attacks, Marczak couldn’t prove it. Whoever it was, he realized, knew what they were doing. By the time Marczak finished tracking Stealth Falcon, the following spring, he found its campaign had originated from 67 different servers and had lured more than 400 people into clicking its links and loading spyware onto their devices. He also discovered that 24 U.A.E. citizens had been targeted with the same spyware in posts sent via Twitter. Three had been arrested shortly after. Another was convicted of insulting the U.A.E.’s rulers in absentia. His Citizen Lab report, issued last May, described the Stealth Falcon attacks in detail, suggesting that the U.A.E. was behind

them, but stopped short of naming NSO. For Marczak this amounted to unfinished business.

T

he e-mail Marczak received that night last August in Berkeley came from Ahmed Mansoor, the U.A.E. dissident, who remained under relentless harassment by his government. Mansoor had been imprisoned and beaten on the street, then had his passport confiscated. Someone stole his car. His bank account was drained of $140,000—all while he was fighting off multiple attempts by the U.A.E. government to hack his computers and phones. What got Marczak so excited was a U.R.L. he spied at the bottom of a text Mansoor had sent: “sms.webadv.co.” He remembered it as one of the hundreds of servers he had linked to NSO: here, it appeared, was the evidence he needed to pin the Stealth Falcon campaign on the Israeli company. In his living room, Marczak wrote a program that allowed his laptop to impersonate a mobile phone, the device Mansoor would have used. By doing so, he hoped to reconnoiter the spyware’s server, wherever it was, without infecting his computer. The Hacking Team tools released by Phineas Fisher worked only on older versions of Android phones; if contacted by a newer version, it sent back a harmless “decoy” page. Marczak assumed this program worked the same way. It didn’t. When Marczak clicked the link contained in Mansoor’s e-mail, his Safari browser suddenly opened and then immediately shut. Monitoring what was happening in the background, he could see what appeared to be the first stage of a spyware program uploading onto his laptop. Before it could do any damage, he severed the connection. But he had seen enough. In an attempt to www.vanityfair.com

VAN IT Y

FAIR

189


Cyber-hack impersonate Mansoor, Marczak had been using the penultimate version of the Apple O.S., iOS 9.3.3. The NSO spyware, if that’s what it was, could clearly infiltrate it, via Safari. And because the newest version of iOS, 9.3.4., didn’t change anything in Safari, Marczak realized the spyware had to be using an exploit never before seen: a zero day. “Wow,” he said aloud. When he went to study the JavaScript code he had captured on his laptop, however, Marczak was disappointed. It was gibberish, page after page of heavily obfuscated code. This was above his pay grade. To figure out what the program actually was, he would need serious help. One of his Citizen Lab colleagues suggested that Marczak reach out to Seth Hardy, a former Citizen Lab analyst who worked at Lookout, a top-shelf purveyor of security software that specializes in mobile phones. Lookout had been founded in 2007 by three University of Southern California computersecurity specialists: John Hering, Kevin Mahaffey, and James Burgess. While fooling around with new technologies the three discovered a vulnerability in the Nokia 3610’s Bluetooth connection to wireless headsets, giving unauthorized access potentially to millions of mobile devices. They informed Nokia, but the company would not take the problem seriously because it believed Bluetooth communication was limited to a 30foot range. To prove their point the three hackers built a “BlueSniper rifle”—a piece of hardware that enabled them to extend Bluetooth’s range to more than a mile—and took it to the 2005 Academy Awards, where they easily collected data from dozens of celebrities’ phones. Nokia was finally persuaded to fix the problem. Seth Hardy took the call not long after sunrise. “He told us this suspicious link had compromised an iPhone with just one click, which suggested someone had weaponized a zero-day exploit,” Hardy recalls. “I mean, that’s incredibly rare. It sounded like it could be big.” Hardy thought of Max Bazaliy, a 29-yearold Ph.D. candidate at Kiev Polytechnic. Bazaliy was the only person at Lookout who had actually created a jailbreak, albeit a “public” jailbreak using wires and cables. He and Andrew Blaich furrowed their brows as they scrolled down the code, nearly 1,400 lines of multicolored commands in seemingly random order, tossed about like a salad. “This is clearly seriously bad stuff, but we had no idea what it was,” recalls Mike Murray, the engineers’ boss. “So we said, ‘Let’s guess at the worst-case scenario and see if it’s that.’ A worst-case scenario is a remote jailbreak.” 190

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

M

Code Red

any spyware programs are packaged in three stages. Stage One infiltrates the user’s device. Stage Two prepares the device for monitoring; when finished, it contacts a server to deliver the actual spyware package. The spyware’s delivery and setup constitutes Stage Three. Because it had taken control of Marczak’s Safari browser, the Lookout analysts were confident that Marczak’s code was Stage One of spyware using a zero day. “A Safari exploit is huge,” Murray says. “If you have that, you can get into any Apple device in the world.” The code Marczak discovered was “obfuscated,” that is, jumbled so thoroughly it was impossible to understand. It took several hours for Blaich and Bazaliy to identify the hidden program’s components and line them up in order. After that, they searched for a way to find the program’s second stage. Unfortunately, Marczak had severed his connection before Stage Two could upload. Worse, the link he had clicked was a “single use” link, the digital equivalent of a “Mission: Impossible” message that bursts into flame after one listen. But Bazaliy and Blaich thought they might locate it if they could track down the server where the spyware originated. Already they could see a series of U.R.L.’s in the Stage One code. Once they had identified which one was likely the original server, they saw that it could be contacted only by a computer in the Middle East. Bazaliy set to work building a V.P.N. (virtual private network) tunnel, a commonly used bit of software that masks a telephone’s G.P.S. coordinates, routing his path to the server through a series of foreign countries before finding one he could use in the U.A.E. By scanning each of the U.R.L.’s, the team was able to identify bits and pieces of code it believed to be Stage Two. There was just one hitch: “It looks like a jailbreak, but it’s encrypted, which is a problem,” recalls Bazaliy. “We have no idea what algorithm it was using for its decryption.” They spent hours that day searching for the algorithm before realizing the answer had been in front of them all along. Eventually Bazaliy realized that Stage One must know how to decrypt Stage Two in order to launch it. So they searched for elements of a decryption algorithm in Stage One and slowly pieced one together. It was only upon decrypting Stage Two that they began to amass evidence of what the program was. The key lay in references within the code to the iPhone’s digital brain, called the “kernel.” The way Apple, like many computermakers, protects the kernel from infiltration is by “randomizing,” or constantly changing, its internal address; if a hacking program can be viewed as a hunter, the kernel is a jackrabbit that constantly darts between hedgerows to hide from it. The eureka moment came when Bazaliy found the code “calling” for the kernel, much as a hunter would use a duck call to find ducks. “This is how Max knew it was a jailbreak,” Mike Murray explains. “The code

in Stage Two was all about how to find the kernel. The only reason to find a kernel is to attack it. The only reason to call for the kernel is to attempt a jailbreak.” To their surprise, the subprogram contained a second zero-day exploit. Two zero days in one program: no one had ever seen anything like it. Bazaliy thought it had to be a remote jailbreak. But unless they could find and analyze the third stage of code, there was no way to prove it. Any chance of that, however, had died the moment Marczak clicked on the link. It appeared they were at a dead end. Then they got lucky. As the team at Lookout struggled to unravel the strange code that Wednesday, Marczak was surprised to receive a second message from Mansoor. He had gotten yet another suspicious e-mail, and, incredibly, it contained a link that directed him again to sms.webadv.co. The U.A.E. government, Marczak wagered, was not only persistent but overconfident, or at least unconcerned about being discovered.

T

his time he wasn’t taking any chances. What he needed, Marczak realized, was to impersonate Mansour’s iPhone; if the host server saw the link clicked by a different kind of phone than Mansour’s, it might suspect something amiss. Mansour used a slightly older phone, an iPhone 5, running the 9.3.3 version of iOS. Marczak began asking around his office in downtown Berkeley, seeing if anybody had one. It wasn’t an easy favor to ask; after all, he intended to infect the phone with cutting-edge spyware. Still, after a few hours his office-mate, a computer-security specialist named Nicholas Weaver, volunteered that his girlfriend had just upgraded her iPhone but had kept the older model to use to listen to music at her job in a winery. Thursday morning, having wiped the old phone clean of data, Weaver brought it into the office the two men shared. They closed the door behind them; no one else knew what they were attempting. With Weaver at his shoulder, Marczak first set up a wireless access point, essentially a mini-network all his own, the better to contain the dangerous code. He then hooked his laptop via Wi-Fi to the old iPhone, so that he could watch on his computer screen the images of whatever code secretly invaded the phone. Lastly he arranged a V.P.N. so that the phone appeared to be calling from the U.A.E. When they were finished, Marczak pasted the link into the phone’s Safari browser. Then, with a deep breath, he clicked on the link. In an instant a blank Web page opened—and then closed itself 10 seconds later. “Ohhhh, that’s an exploit,” Marczak murmured. He had seen enough spyware to realize the sudden opening and closing of Safari almost certainly meant a hostile program was using an undiscovered exploit to hack into the phone. It took a few seconds for him to fully comprehend what this might mean: if alien code next headed H OLIDAY

2016/2 017


for the kernel, he might be seeing a remote jailbreak “in the wild,” as programmers call it, something no one had ever witnessed before. “O.K.,” he said, “this is completely not possible to do.” Suddenly lines of colorful computer code began manically unspooling down his screen: a view of the alien code invading the phone. “The phone is totally calm,” he remembers. “But the laptop is going crazy.” If Stage One of the code was the Safari exploit, this new code had to be a full Stage Two, a version of which the Lookout engineers had already begun assembling. It was designed to break down the kernel’s defenses in preparation for delivery of the actual spyware. And that, Marczak realized with a start, was exactly what was happening. The code was attempting a remote jailbreak.

T

his all happened in a matter of seconds. In the next moment or so, he and Weaver watched the laptop screen as alien code invaded the phone’s kernel. When the code on his laptop screen paused, then began once more, they could see it had now finished its preparations and was seeking to establish contact with a host—no doubt a computer server controlled by the U.A.E. government. But for some reason the phone didn’t make contact. Its request went unanswered. Marczak scrunched his brow. Ninety seconds later the phone tried again. “There it goes,” he said, expecting it was a momentary glitch. But this call too went unanswered. He and Weaver exchanged glances. This was odd. “Why is it failing?” Marczak asked. They watched in silence as the phone tried a third time and failed. Then it tried again. “Please work, please work,” Weaver began to whisper. But the fourth call too went unanswered. “Maybe they’re onto us,” Marczak suggested. “Maybe,” Weaver said. “But I don’t see how.” The code made a fifth call. Nothing. No one was answering. Marczak was starting to grow dejected. It appeared this was a solid attempt at a remote jailbreak, but not a successful one. Then, on the sixth call, the server answered. A connection was established. Suddenly the laptop screen burst into a blizzard of lightning-fast code, “just this huge unmitigated blob” of code being delivered from the host directly into the phone’s kernel. It was

the actual spyware. If all the code to this point had been thousands of aliens preparing the Earth for invasion, this was the mother ship. For several moments Marczak and Weaver watched in silence, stunned to see evidence of an actual remote jailbreak in the wild. Then Marczak saw the danger they were in. If the spyware was transferring information back to a host, the data might well include the phone’s actual G.P.S. coordinates. The host would know where they were. “I think we should shut it down,” Marczak said. Weaver saw it, too. “Shut it down,” he said. Once they were certain the entire Third Stage had loaded, Marczak ripped out the cables connecting the phone to the laptop. Then he snatched up the phone, turned off its power, and placed it in a metal desk drawer they kept for the rare occasions they needed to isolate a piece of hardware. The connection to the host was severed. For a moment they just sat there, grinning like children. Then both men let out whoops of joy and exchanged an exuberant high five. “Damn,” Weaver finally said. “It feels good to be a gangsta.” All that weekend the Lookout team worked around the clock studying the beast Marczak had captured. They found a third zero day in the complete Stage Two, making this probably the most sophisticated spyware ever identified. Max Bazaliy discovered several references to “NSO,” deepening their conviction that the Israeli company was responsible. If so, what they were seeing was likely NSO’s flagship surveillance software, called Pegasus. (NSO executives could not be reached for comment, but in August, NSO emphasized in a statement to Forbes that it does not operate spyware, but merely sells it. “The company sells only to authorized governmental agencies… The agreements signed with the company’s customers require that the company’s products only be used in a lawful manner. Specifically, the products may only be used for the prevention and investigation of crimes.”) By reverse-engineering it, they found that it could simultaneously monitor a phone’s e-mail, Internet use, keystrokes, Skype chats, and a slew of other applications. It could turn on a microphone and listen to a user’s conversations. “We’ve seen all these capabilities by themselves,” says Mike Murray. “I don’t think anyone has

ever seen them in one piece of software before.” “It was amazingly sophisticated,” says Blaich. “Normally spyware is a battery hog. One way you know you might be infected is if you get messages saying your battery is low. There is actual code in here that makes it battery-conscious. If it senses it’s using too much battery, it will actually shut itself down.” “It’s amazing,” says Seth Hardy. “It will wait till the user goes on Wi-Fi to send off large packets of information, to avoid killing the battery. We’d never seen anything like that before this.” The next step was to alert Apple. Murray wanted to hold off till they fully understood the program, but Marczak insisted they call immediately. The risk to iPhone users was too great. A conference call was arranged that Monday. “Apple is pretty funny,” Hardy remembers. “So we told them we had a remote jailbreak. And they were like, ‘Yeah yeah yeah, we’ve seen this before—send us what you have.’ So we did, and a few hours later they called back and, you know, very serious, [said] ‘O.K., send us everything you got.’ ” Apple managed to issue a “patch” to fix the three zero-day exploits just 10 days after the call, an engineering feat that surprised many of those involved. An Apple spokesman declined comment, but a Silicon Valley security consultant who works closely with the company says, “Apple had never seen anything like this—ever. This was an incredibly sophisticated nation-state attack, kind of breathtaking in its scope. This took a herculean effort on their part to patch it so fast. It was Katy-bar-the-door over there.”

I

t’s an uplifting story, but the fact is Apple and other computer-makers are fighting a losing battle. As long as there are hackers, they will continue to find ways to hack any device that interfaces with them. These dangers were highlighted this fall when a New England company found itself the target of a mass denial-of-service attack from millions of noncomputer “zombie devices” connected to the Internet—most notably baby monitors. “What these cyber-arms dealers have done is democratize digital surveillance,” says the A.C.L.U.’s Chris Soghoian. “The surveillance tools once only used by big governments are now available to anyone with a couple hundred grand to spend.” In fact, they may be coming to your iPhone sometime soon. 

VANITY FAIR IS A REGISTERED TRADEMARK OF ADVANCE MAGAZINE PUBLISHERS INC. COPYRIGHT © 2016 CONDÉ NAST. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. PRINTED IN THE U.S.A. VOLUME 59, NO. 1. VANITY FAIR (ISSN 0733-8899) is published monthly (except for January, a combined issue in June/July, a Hollywood issue in February, and a Holiday issue in November) by Condé Nast, which is a division of Advance Magazine Publishers Inc. PRINCIPAL OFFICE: Condé Nast, One World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007. S. I. Newhouse, Jr., Chairman Emeritus; Charles H. Townsend, Chairman; Robert A. Sauerberg, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer; David E. Geithner, Chief Financial Officer. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY, and at additional mailing offices. Canada Post Publications Mail Agreement No. 40644503. Canadian Goods and Services Tax Registration No. 123242885-RT0001. POSTMASTER: Send all UAA to CFS. (See DMM 507.1.5.2); NON-POSTAL AND MILITARY FACILITIES: send address corrections to VANITY FAIR, P.O. Box 37714, Boone, IA 50037-0714. FOR SUBSCRIPTIONS, ADDRESS CHANGES, ADJUSTMENTS, OR BACK ISSUE INQUIRIES: Please write to VANITY FAIR, P.O. Box 37714, Boone, IA 50037-0714, call 800-365-0635, or e-mail subscriptions@vf.com. Please give both new and old addresses as printed on most recent label. Subscribers: If the Post Office alerts us that your magazine is undeliverable, we have no further obligation unless we receive a corrected address within one year. If during your subscription term or up to one year after the magazine becomes undeliverable, you are ever dissatisfied with your subscription, let us know. You will receive a full refund on all unmailed issues. First copy of new subscription will be mailed within four weeks after receipt of order. Send all editorial, business, and production correspondence electronically to vfmail@vf.com. For reprints, please e-mail reprints@condenast.com or call Wright’s Media, 877-652-5295. For reuse permissions, please e-mail contentlicensing@condenast.com or call 800-897-8666. Visit us online at www.vf.com. To subscribe to other Condé Nast magazines on the World Wide Web, visit www.condenastdigital.com. Occasionally, we make our subscriber list available to carefully screened companies that offer products and services that we believe would interest our readers. If you do not want to receive these offers and/or information, please advise us at P.O. Box 37714, Boone, IA 50037-0714 or call 800-365-0635. VANITY FAIR IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE RETURN OR LOSS OF, OR FOR DAMAGE OR ANY OTHER INJURY TO, UNSOLICITED MANUSCRIPTS, UNSOLICITED ART WORK (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, DRAWINGS, PHOTOGRAPHS, AND TRANSPARENCIES), OR ANY OTHER UNSOLICITED MATERIALS. THOSE SUBMITTING MANUSCRIPTS, PHOTOGRAPHS, ART WORK, OR OTHER MATERIALS FOR CONSIDERATION SHOULD NOT SEND ORIGINALS, UNLESS SPECIFICALLY REQUESTED TO DO SO BY VANITY FAIR IN WRITING. MANUSCRIPTS, PHOTOGRAPHS, AND OTHER MATERIALS SUBMITTED MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY A SELF-ADDRESSED STAMPED ENVELOPE.

HO L IDAY 2 016 / 2 017

www.vanityfair.com

VAN IT Y

FAIR

191


PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE

DJ

KHALED

The record producer, Snapchat king, and (Red) ambassador— whose new book, The Keys, is out this month—reveals his mantras for avoiding “They” and finding the greatness in life

W

hat is your idea of perfect happiness? Health, life, everything around me on a daily basis, being grateful for life—every day is a blessing. What is your greatest fear? I fear nothing, except for flying. Which historical figure do you most identify with? My grandma. She understands me. Which living person do you most admire? Jay Z. He’s a mogul. He’s a Sagittarius like me. I love his business moves. What is the trait you most deplore in others? People who do not love. If you are not loving, you are not living. Why wouldn’t you love? What’s the problem? What is your greatest extravagance? Every day is a great extravagance, when I wake up and rise up and breathe—life. What is your favorite journey? Life. Every day it’s time for greatness. Every day climbing that mountaintop where you get the key, and each key leads to the next key. On what occasion do you lie? I don’t lie. I speak what I know. I don’t need to lie. What do you dislike most about your appearance? I love my appearance; I love everything about me. Which words or phrases do you

192

VANI T Y FA I R

www.vanityfair.com

I L L U STRAT IO N

most overuse? “We the best,” but it’s the truth! What is your greatest regret? I have no regrets—life is beautiful. What or who is the greatest love of your life? God and my newborn son, Asahd Tuck Khaled. When and where were you happiest? I’m happy every day I wake up, man. You know what I’m saying? What do you consider your greatest achievement? Staying away from They—whoever is bringing negative energy to positive vibes. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? We’re forever—we don’t use those words. What is your most treasured possession? Life. Where would you like to live? I love Miami. Miami is my home, but we travel everywhere too. What is your favorite occupation? Being great! What is your most marked characteristic? My whole body. Everything about me is great. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Someone being grateful about everything in life. Who are your favorite writers? The author of the Holy Koran. What is your motto? “We the best.” “God is the greatest.” BY

RISKO

H OLIDAY

2016/2017



Vanity fair usa holiday 2016 2017