Lugner tops media chart

A veteran playboy inviting international stars and starlets to the Vienna Opera Ball was mentioned more often in Austrian papers than any of the country’s politicians last week.Political magazine profil reports that Viennese businessman Richard Lugner’s name occurred in Austria’s leading newspapers and magazines 217 times between Monday and Friday of last week. This means that the 78-year-old playboy managed to outdo People’s Party (ÖVP) Finance Minister Josef Pröll whose name was mentioned 194 times.Lugner’s guest for this Thursday’s ball, Italian-Arabian erotic dancer Karima El Mahrough – also known as Ruby Rubacuori – came third (151) followed by Social Democratic (SPÖ) Chancellor Werner Faymann (98) and Freedom Party (FPÖ) leader Heinz-Christian Strache with 59 mentions.Ruby, 18, arrived in Vienna earlier today. Lugner and the TV celebrity – who reportedly had sex with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi – will hold a press conference at the Lugner City shopping mall tomorrow. The duo will attend the State Opera Ball on Thursday night. Lugner said Israeli actor Zachi Noy and “Dallas” icon Larry Hagman will join them in his box.Desiree Treichl-Stürgkh, head organiser of the ball, warned last week she could imagine ensuring that Lugner does not get a box at the society get-together in the coming years for inviting Ruby.Treichl-Stürgkh, the wife of Erste Bank chief Andreas Treichl, called Lugner’s actions “sad, disgraceful and irreverent.”Wolfgang Lorenz, the chief programme director of Austrian broadcaster ORF, advised staff in an e-mail not to let the Opera Ball “turn into a ball of the bitches”.Lugner argued: “I wouldn’t be in the centre of attention year after year were the Opera Ball still important enough to attract high-profile people. Kings and famous actors attended it in the past.”Lugner was in the building business for many years before focusing on his shopping centre in Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus district. His construction company built Vienna’s first mosque in the district of Floridsdorf in the 1970s.The controversial businessman – who tried himself at singing and acting many times – started to invite VIPs to the Vienna Opera Ball in 1992. His guest list of the past years includes Pamela Anderson, Faye Dunaway and Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York.