The fake, weird world of celebrity gift giving
By Dana Schuster
April 9, 2016 | 12:39pm
Last month, Kim Kardashian made the Twittersphere’s collective jaw drop – not because of the umpteenth nude pic she posted, but because she announced that she and Bette Midler were friends.
Well, “fake friends,” according to Kardashian, who attacked Midler after the musical icon teased her.
“Kim Kardashian tweeted a nude selfie today. If Kim wants us to see a part of her we’ve never seen, she’s gonna have to swallow the camera,” Midler had tweeted.
It’s common practice for stars who barely know each other to exchange everything from flower arrangements to $10,000 Birkin bags
Kim responded: “hey @BetteMidler I really didn’t want to bring up how you sent me a gift awhile back trying to be a fake friend then come at me #dejavu.”
Apparently, in Celebrity Land, stars swap gifts like “Bachelor” contestants swap spit – often and publicly.
According to assistants and publicists interviewed by The Post, it’s common practice for stars who barely know each other to exchange everything from flower arrangements to $10,000 Birkin bags – real friendships be damned – to build goodwill, inflate their own star power, gain some press and procure future favors. While Midler’s seemingly random present was of the charitable sort – she planted a tree in Kardashian’s honor in 2007 for her New York Restoration Project – other celebs aren’t so altruistic.
“They’re looking for something – a public thank you, a social shout-out, an interview down the line .”‰.”‰. There’s some sort of motive underneath,” says a celebrity publicist.
“Anna was the It girl of the moment. She was starring in the most talked-about play on Broadway, ”˜Closer,’ which they were trying to turn into a movie. I think Madonna wanted to play one of the parts,” says White, who worked for Friel from the mid-’90s to 2000. “It was me, Anna, Madonna and Rupert Everett, all lying there naked on tables while Japanese women walked all over us!”Rebecca White – who has been a personal assistant to Naomi Campbell, Claire Danes and British actress Anna Friel – recalls a time when Madonna’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.
“For Kim Kardashian to take a picture [of a gift] and tweet it, that’s huge, everybody sees it,” says White. “I definitely think [celeb gifting] is more about business.”
Of course, sometimes it can backfire.
Unfortunately, soon after, Couric told InTouch that she didn’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 Barney’s and a note Couric had sent, with the hashtagged captions: “I hate fake media friends” and “May I humbly suggest you not send gifts then talk s”Š ”“ ”“ t.”
While many celebrities gift with abandon, they typically leave the work of it to someone else.
“A lot of the time it is the publicist nudging the client,” says Jessica Van Horn, a publicist at Edelman. “Saying, ”˜Oh, this person just had a baby. It would be nice to send a gift to establish or maintain a good relationship with them.’ If they tweet about it or go on social media, it’s good publicity for the client.”
And, White says, normally the chore of note-writing is left to the assistant or publicist.
Sending on the sly isn’t all it’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.
“I wanted to thank her because she was very gracious and kind and didn’t need any handling or anything, which was a breath of fresh air,” says White.
The next day, Moss called Campbell to gush about the arrangement. When she found out White had sent flowers, Campbell “flipped out,” according to White.
“She accused me of wanting to be Kate’s friend instead of hers,” says the former assistant. “It totally backfired.”