Celebrity protection is about providing high-profile clients and their families with personal protection services to insure their peace of mind, safety and security. Because of who they are – or who they are perceived to be, celebrities are almost constantly at risk from personal assault, kidnapping and being the victims of terrorist attacks. And over the years, there have been quite a few celebrity protection scandals.
The celebrity protection industry is very complex and constantly changing. Because of their high-profile clients, for celebrity protection teams:
- discretion is imperative,
- clear communication is necessary, and,
- adapting to new circumstances becomes second nature.
When these simple tenets are observed, all is well. However, when they are not observed, all kinds of hell can break loose. The result can be public humiliation, infamy, financial loss or, in some cases, even death.
So, without further ado, we present some of the biggest and loudest celebrity protection scandals in recent history.
5. Pamela Anderson Sex Tape
The Baywatch star and Mötley Crüe drummer husband, Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee, shocked the world when their private tape became one of the world’s first viral sex videos in 1997.
The famous couple made the tape in 1995 and kept it locked in their safe. However, that safe was stolen by an electrician working on their home. He had been previously fired and threatened by Lee. He stole the tape along with a safe of their things and tried to sell it to a few outlets until it was eventually distributed on the internet
What a breach of their home security!
Not only did this celebrity protection scandal cause infamy to Pamela Anderson and her then husband, but also, porn was big money in the 90s. And their tape made an estimated USD 77 million in the first year alone.
So pretty much everybody saw it— that is, except Pamela Anderson, who said in 2015 that she’s still never seen the video.
4. iCloud Leaks of Celebrity Photos
The Pamela Anderson sex-tape pretty much foreshadowed many celebrity sex tapes to come. But the biggest celebrity sex scandal occurred in 2014, when nude photos and private videos of stars – including Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst, and Kate Upton, were leaked on 4chan.
In one of the biggest cybersecurity breaches in history, more than 100 celebrities had their private data stolen via compromised accounts.
Apple later reported that the victims’ iCloud account information was gotten by using a targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, such as phishing and brute-force attack guessing.
The hacker that claimed responsibility for the hack said that more pictures and videos of the celebrities were available. He wanted money before the rest of the stolen images and videos get posted.
3. Bill Gates and a Face Full of Pie
In 1997, when the whole world knew him as the richest person on the planet. And sill Bill Gates ended up with a face full of pie during a security incident in Brussels.
While rushing with his security detail to a meeting with 400 Belgian educators, business leaders and government officials, a group of pranksters ambushed him with a cream pies, messing his glasses and suit.
Shocked and rather less presentable than his pie-less celebrity protection, Gates continued to walk toward the building. Although, accompanied by a couple more pies casually thrown his way. The pie toss was masterminded by Noel Godin, a Belgian personality who stages such attacks and tries to sell footage of the incidents.
Surprisingly, Bill Gates decided not to sue his attackers – but we can bet he changed his security team.
2. Notorious B.I.G. Murder
Biggie Smalls died on March 9, 1997 in a drive-by shooting in New York. In an interview, just a few days before his death, he said he hired a security detail since he feared for his safety – due to being a celebrity in general and not specifically because he was a rapper.
The incident occurred while Biggie Smalls, his associates and bodyguards, were returning from a party.
Accounts say that a car stopped next to their vehicle, while they waiting for the traffic lights to change. It was then that an unidentified man dressed in a blue suit and bow tie, rolled down his window, drew a 9 mm blue-steel pistol, and fired at Biggie’s car.
Smalls was hit by three bullets. The exact circumstances of his death remain a mystery and the investigation to find his killers is still ongoing.
1. Princess Diana’s Death
The world was shocked when the life of Princess Diana suddenly ended at the age of 36.
Called the People’s Princess, she was one of the most beloved celebrities in the world. She was also one being most mercilessly hounded celebrities by the paparazzi.
Princess Diana died of injuries from a crash that occurred while she was in the back of a Mercedes in Paris in 1997. At the time, many speculated that the crash had occurred as a result of the paparazzi stalking her. However, an investigation eventually determined that the driver had also been drunk.
The princess’ ex-guard – who resigned from Diana’s service in 1993, said her death in Paris shouldn’t have happened. He blamed the new security team that was by her side at the time of the incident.
The Take-Away from Celebrity Protection Scandals
Visibility and access are at the very core of what it means to be a celebrity, this in itself carries elevated levels of risk. Therefore, in matters of celebrity protection anticipating and planning for all types of potential negative scenarios.
The goal is to prevent the incident from happening, avoid scandal, while not disrupting the celebrities’ life or livelihood. Sometimes, a celebrity’s personal wishes and preferences conflict with the advice of their security.
Perhaps the route they prefer to take is not in the lowest risk scenario? Perhaps their social media activity puts them at risk of cyberattacks? All of this only further emphasizes the need for careful consideration and detailed preparation, as well as continual communication between the celebrity and their security.