Friday, March 16, 2012

Is This the Tool Who Took, Sold Whitney Houston's Casket Photo?

Leave it to Roger Friedman, the well-connected Hollywood Reporter columnist, to work his sources and identify the opportunist who took a photo of Whitney Houston lying in her casket and sold it to the National Enquirer for an estimated $500,000. According to Roger's sources, the opportunist is Raffles van Exel -- a Dutchman who's friends with Pat Houston is CEO of Raffles Entertainment, LLC and "a highly respected entertainment consultant having guided some of the world’s most acclaimed executives and celebrities." Read: He's a hanger-on and a leech who (allegedly) sells stories to the tabloids. Anywho, a Whigham Funeral Home employee witnessed Raffles -- who, coincidentally inside one of Whitney's Houston's suites at the Beverly Hilton the day she died and attended the late singer's wake and Sunday morning service before burial -- take the photo.
The people at Whigham noticed van Exel right away. Even though he’s not a member of the Houston family, he traveled with them on the private plane from Los Angeles to New Jersey. He was the only non family member who accompanied Whitney’s sister in law/manager and newly appointed executor Pat Houston in her car to Whitney’s memorial and funeral and to the viewings. According to one source, he even had his own bodyguard with him, which was more than a little unusual. A source from Whigham’s says when the picture appeared on the cover of the Enquirer, they told the Houstons of their suspicions. “They didn’t do anything about it,” says a source. “They’re protecting him. How come they haven’t gotten him out of their circle?”....About 35 people came to the first viewing. The Wighams didn’t know everyone. But they know none of their people were involved. Only one of their employees says they witnessed Raffles van Exel take the picture of Whitney in her coffin.

Roger's reporting is always correct, so we completely believe this. And just for laughs, here's the press release Raffles issued days after Whitney's death.
The incomparable Whitney Houston was a dear friend of mine. I've known & worked closely with Whitney Houston and her sister-in-law Patricia Houston for over 20 joyous years. To the world, Whitney Houston was an icon; a legend with a voice that could only come from above. She was an actress that brought vibrancy and realism to her roles. To Whitney's family & friends, Whitney was a mother, a daughter, a sister, and a best friend. To her fans, Whitney meant the world to them. Whitney's death is tragic & shocking. This is a horrible and gut wrenching loss to the world. I will never forget the impact that she had on this earth. Whitney was a great friend to me and I loved her from the depth of my heart and soul. My friend Whitney is a child of the Lord. Because of her close relationship with God, He granted her this most singular gift: her voice. Yes, Whitney's voice was touched by God himself. Her very being: her grace, her compassion, her kindness, her humility and beauty was otherworldly. This world did not just lose an entertainer of the first order, this world lost a beautiful, singing angel who gave joy and love to all who knew her and experienced her God given gift, her talent. The legendary icon Whitney Houston was the greatest vocalist to have ever graced us with her presence. Rest in peace, my beautiful angel. You will never be forgotten. I send my heartfelt condolences to her daughter Bobbi Kristina, her mother Cissy Houston, Whitney's brother Gary Houston, sister-in-law Patricia Houston, and the rest of her family, friends and her millions of fans worldwide.

sources: Forbes | PR web

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