Lugner wants Ruby for Opera Ball

Infamous veteran playboy Richard Lugner has defended his plans to invite the teenager at the heart of a scandal involving Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to the Vienna Opera Ball.Lugner, 78, announced today (Mon) that his in negotiations with the representatives of erotic dancer Karima El Mahrough – better known by her stage name Ruby the Heartbreaker – were “in their final stages”.Asked whether he had any concerns about the decision to approach the 18-year-old about attending the VIP event on 3 March with him could harm his reputation as a businessman, Lugner argued: “She’s a great woman. Popes had mistresses too.”Berlusconi was ordered to stand trial on charges of under-age prostitution and abuse of office last week. The controversial politician will face accusations stemming from his alleged sex parties in a court in Milan in April.Ruby admitted accepting a “gift” of 7,000 Euros after attending one of the parties held by the head of the Italian government last year – when she was still 17. The Moroccan dancer has always dismissed claims she had sex with Berlusconi, describing the 74-year-old as a “lonely” man.Lugner, who has attended the State Opera Ball with celebrities like Pamela Anderson and Paris Hilton, said Ruby was due to arrive in Vienna on 1 March before accompanying him and his girlfriend – who is 57 years his junior – to the society get-together at the city’s opera house two days later.The Showbiz press expects Lugner to ask Ruby to sign autographs at his Lugner City shopping centre in Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus as many of his previous Opera Ball guests did.Lugner said he will also be accompanied by “Dallas” legend Larry Hagman and Israeli actor Zachi Noy to next month’s Vienna Opera Ball. Hagman partied with Lugner at the 20th anniversary of his mall last year, while Noy accompanied Lugner at the Graz Opera Ball some weeks ago.News that Lugner may be accompanied with Ruby comes just one day after he announced that he decided to ditch plans to attend the ball with Bo Derek. Lugner told reporters the American actress asked for 25,000 US dollars more than initially agreed to come to Vienna. Without revealing a name, the entrepreneur accused an “Austrian journalist living in the USA” of appealing to Derek to reject his invitation.Lugner – who has in the meantime been dubbed “Vienna’s Berlusconi” by Austrian newspapers – said today he was “happy” about Derek’s decision as he expected Ruby to fill the gap.