Richard Lugner has praised Brigitte Nielsen as the “nicest Opera Ball guest I have ever had.”
The Danish model and actress accepted the 79-year-old Viennese businessman’s invitation to this year’s Viennese State Opera Ball. Around 5,000 people will attend the glamorous event tonight (Thurs). TV channel ORF will screen all the action from the red carpet at primetime before broadcasting the opening ceremony later on.
Nielsen met fans and gave interviews at the Lugner City shopping centre yesterday. The “Red Sonja” star, who was married to movie legend Sylvester Stallone for two years in the late 1980s, said she loved Vienna and goulash.
Nielsen and her husband Mattia Dessi arrived in the Austrian capital on Tuesday. After having checked into their suite at the Hilton am Stadtpark hotel, the pair headed straight for the shops in Vienna’s posh old town.
Asked to reveal details about her outfit for tonight, the 48-year-old star of the most recent edition of the German version of “I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!” said it would be “very romantic – almost like in (Hollywood film) ‘Gone with the Wind’. It is the most beautiful dress in the world!”
Lugner – who had Pamela Anderson at his side in 2003 before attending the Opera Ball with Andie MacDowell the following year – said Nielsen “is not complicated at all”. He added: “I also appreciate that she speaks German because my English is very bad.”
Lugner started inviting stars to the Opera Ball in 1992. Many of them caused him real trouble. Reflecting on his experiences, the 79-year-old entrepreneur said: “(Pop star) Geri Halliwell was the most difficult. She even refused to do interviews. (Actress) Joan Collins is a real-life beast, not just on TV. (Singer) Grace Jones had sex – before the ball, during the ball and after the ball!”
Lugner reportedly pays five-figure sums to his personal Opera Ball guests. His retail trade business is understood to strongly benefit from his activities in the world of media. Being aware of the high potential his Opera Ball activities, Lugner forks out thousands of Euros for a box in the opera each year. He will have to do without financial support from ATV this year around as the private television broadcaster decided not to exclusively portray his preparations for and attendance of the Opera Ball.
ATV achieved excellent market shares with special Vienna State Opera Ball editions of their real life documentary “Die Lugners” in the past years. Company officials said earlier this week that they would not cooperate with Lugner in 2012 due to high production costs, complex negotiations with the ORF about filming in the opera house and the fragile health condition of Lugner’s girlfriend.
Anastasia Sokol, who is 57 years his junior, allegedly suffers from anorexia. Sokol has been widely criticised for allowing camera teams to accompany her as she underwent a series of cosmetic surgeries in past years. Lugner, who will not only be joined by Nielsen but also “James Bond” star and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Sir Roger Moore at tonight’s ball, was married four times before having several short-lived relationships.