The fake, weird world of celebrity gift giving
By Dana Schuster
April 9, 2016 | 12:39pm
Last month, Kim Kardashian made the Twittersphereâ€™s collective jaw drop â€” not because of the umpteenth nude pic she posted, but because she announced that she and Bette Midler were friends.
Well, â€œfake friends,â€ according to Kardashian, who attacked Midler after the musical icon teased her.
â€œKim Kardashian tweeted a nude selfie today. If Kim wants us to see a part of her weâ€™ve never seen, sheâ€™s gonna have to swallow the camera,â€ Midler had tweeted.
Itâ€™s common practice for stars who barely know each other to exchange everything from flower arrangements to $10,000 Birkin bags
Kim responded: â€œhey @BetteMidler I really didnâ€™t want to bring up how you sent me a gift awhile back trying to be a fake friend then come at me #dejavu.â€
Apparently, in Celebrity Land, stars swap gifts like â€œBachelorâ€ contestants swap spit â€” often and publicly.
According to assistants and publicists interviewed by The Post, itâ€™s common practice for stars who barely know each other to exchange everything from flower arrangements to $10,000 Birkin bags â€” real friendships be damned â€” to build goodwill, inflate their own star power, gain some press and procure future favors. While Midlerâ€™s seemingly random present was of the charitable sort â€” she planted a tree in Kardashianâ€™s honor in 2007 for her New York Restoration Project â€” other celebs arenâ€™t so altruistic.
â€œTheyâ€™re looking for something â€” a public thank you, a social shout-out, an interview down the line .â€‰.â€‰. Thereâ€™s some sort of motive underneath,â€ says a celebrity publicist.
â€œAnna was the It girl of the moment. She was starring in the most talked-about play on Broadway, â€˜Closer,â€™ which they were trying to turn into a movie. I think Madonna wanted to play one of the parts,â€ says White, who worked for Friel from the mid-â€™90s to 2000. â€œIt was me, Anna, Madonna and Rupert Everett, all lying there naked on tables while Japanese women walked all over us!â€Rebecca White â€” who has been a personal assistant to Naomi Campbell, Claire Danes and British actress Anna Friel â€” recalls a time when Madonnaâ€™s assistant called and said Madge wanted to buy Friel a massage at a Japanese parlor in NYC.
Meanwhile, Naomi Campbell used gifts to win over people and silence her detractors, says White.
For some stars, the motivation can be as simple as publicity.
â€œFor Kim Kardashian to take a picture [of a gift] and tweet it, thatâ€™s huge, everybody sees it,â€ says White. â€œI definitely think [celeb gifting] is more about business.â€
Of course, sometimes it can backfire.
Unfortunately, soon after, Couric told InTouch that she didnâ€™t understand why the Kardashians were so famous.Take talk-show host Katie Couric, who sent Kim Kardashian an outfit for North West in 2013, ostensibly with the hopes of laying the groundwork for future interview access.
Kim took to social media, posting a photo of the baby gift from Barneyâ€™s and a note Couric had sent, with the hashtagged captions: â€œI hate fake media friendsâ€ and â€œMay I humbly suggest you not send gifts then talk sâ€Š â€“ â€“ t.â€
While many celebrities gift with abandon, they typically leave the work of it to someone else.
â€œA lot of the time it is the publicist nudging the client,â€ says Jessica Van Horn, a publicist at Edelman. â€œSaying, â€˜Oh, this person just had a baby. It would be nice to send a gift to establish or maintain a good relationship with them.â€™ If they tweet about it or go on social media, itâ€™s good publicity for the client.â€
And, White says, normally the chore of note-writing is left to the assistant or publicist.
Sending on the sly isnâ€™t all itâ€™s wrapped up to be, though. When White was working with Campbell, she sent flowers to Kate Moss from her boss after the models walked a fashion show in Spain.
â€œI wanted to thank her because she was very gracious and kind and didnâ€™t need any handling or anything, which was a breath of fresh air,â€ says White.
The next day, Moss called Campbell to gush about the arrangement. When she found out White had sent flowers, Campbell â€œflipped out,â€ according to White.
â€œShe accused me of wanting to be Kateâ€™s friend instead of hers,â€ says the former assistant. â€œIt totally backfired.â€