claims in an online article that multi-millionaire
spent 500,000 Euros (NZ$1.16 million) on a lavish two-day party in Istanbul two weeks ago to celebrate his 50th birthday.
The publication is owned by
Ali Naci Karacan
who was a guest at the festivities that included a swanky cocktail party on Friday night at the Ciragan Palace, followed by an elaborate 1930s-themed dinner and party the next night at the world-famous Sirkeci train station, the original home of the Orient Express.
Dashing Karacan was snapped quaffing champagne with hotel heiress
in Turkish society magazine,
, in an exclusive eight-page spread from Watson's party.
The mag claims 300 guests, including American royalty Kerry Kennedy and her cousin Caroline, were invited to the celebration - 170 were Watson's friends from overseas; the remaining 130 guests were the who's who of Turkish society.
The party was also splashed across the front page of Turkey's
magazine. Clearly Watson has made it to the big time in Istanbul. But why Turkey? Why the rent-a-crowd VIP Turks? And why such a grand entrance in the Eurasian country while Hanover investors back home must be more than a little peeved after agreeing to a rescue plan to avoid the company going into receivership?
An inside source told me 20 close Kiwi friends and family members travelled to the lavish birthday bash, including Hanover business partner
and his wife
Dr Bruce Gilbert
, Red11 directors
and Watson's mother. Eric's father
died in 2007. The mothers of his heirs were also invited, though ex-wife Nicky was notably absent.
Swedish-born former girlfriend,
, is the mother of Watson's 3-year-old son Lucas. The couple has just announced they are expecting another child and friends joke that the confirmed bachelor needs a daughter this time. Watson also has a 14-year-old son,
. Eric, I understand, is in no rush to remarry.
Not to be outdone by Hotchin's 50th birthday at Vomo Island in Fiji last year, Watson's extravagant milestone included a performance by London based kapa haka group
, British soul singer
, belly dancers, exotic Turkish cuisine and lots of hobnobbing with international guests, including
, daughter of the president of Kazakhstan; former Miss Italy
; wealthy Turkish construction heir
from the famous Greek shipping empire; and Galatasaray football club owner
Some guests appeared to confuse the '30s Ottoman theme, made famous by Agatha Christie's detective novel aboard the Orient Express, for Chicago Mafioso gangster types with tommy guns and fedoras. The two-day festivities were organised by Omer Karacan's company Private Class and A46, an event-theming company run by
Security was tight. Most of the guests stayed at the lavish Four Seasons hotel and took in the sights of Istanbul over the weekend, including trips to museums, mosques and shopping in the Grand Bazaar where the
-ed. I'm told many guests jetted in together by private plane from London, most probably through NetJets Europe, owned by
who is a director on the board of Victory Acquisition Corp and Tricklecrown Acquisition Corp, of which Watson is chairman and treasurer.
Other board directors include
, who visited New Zealand last year with Watson as a guest in his Warriors box.
, a human rights lawyer, ex-wife of New York state attorney general
, and the seventh child of
(out of a brood of 11!), is an impressive member on the board of Eric's company.
The Cullen Investments website says Kennedy is the chairwoman of Amnesty International Leadership Council and the founder of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Centre for human rights. But it was another woman who made headlines with Watson last week, and it wasn't for her family pedigree, but rather her own ample assets.
, a well-endowed B-list schleb on the London social scene, was snapped with Watson. Britain's
wrote the couple "took in a number of top London haunts before calling it a night". Kelly, who is dating dashing rugby player
, with whom she was snapped in London on Tuesday night, is no stranger to paparazzi lenses.
She has a habit of popping up at the most opportune moments - splashing in the surf, shopping in Los Angeles, and dining with multimillionaires - when the cameras are on cue. On her night out with Eric, the 29-year-old model-turned-TV-presenter dined at Knightsbridge hotspot Zuma restaurant, where Watson once famously got into a scuffle with actor
, apparently over their sparring rugby league clubs.
From there Kels and Eric went to Aspinalls Casino and the private Mayfair club Annabel's, a favourite celebrity haunt. Friends of Eric told me it was the first they heard Watson was dating Brook. "He probably just walked out with her to get into the picture," one joked. Fat chance, methinks. As a member of
' Rich List of squillionaires, I'm guessing the soon-to-be father-of-three is quite the catch in London society.
Pictured: (Left to right) Robert Hersov, Dr Kate James and Eric Watson. Photo / Alem Magazine