Michael Jackson‘s confidant Raffles van Exel (who is said to be a “handler) has been identified as the person who allegedly sold the picture of Whitney Houston in her casket to the National Enquirer… He was very close to Whitney and Michael at their time of death.
From Roger Friedman
Sources at the Whigham Funeral Home in New Jersey say they know, and they have an employee who saw the person take the picture. The person they’re pointing the finger at is Raffles van Exel, the hanger on I told you about in this column a couple of weeks ago. Van Exel, who has aliases of Raffles Benson and Raffles Dawson, was at the two private viewings of Whitney’s casket held at the Whigham Funeral Home. The first viewing was on the Friday night before the memorial service. The second one was on Sunday morning before the burial.
The people at Whigham noticed van Exel right away. Even though he’s not a member of the Houston family, he traveled with them on the private plane from Los Angeles to New Jersey. He was the only non family member who accompanied Whitney’s sister in law/manager and newly appointed executor Pat Houston in her car to Whitney’s memorial and funeral and to the viewings. According to one source, he even had his own bodyguard with him, which was more than a little unusual. A source from Whigham’s says when the picture appeared on the cover of the Enquirer, they told the Houstons of their suspicions. “They didn’t do anything ab0ut it,” says a source. “They’re protecting him. How come they haven’t gotten him out of their circle?”
WHO IS VAN EXCEL? According to FORBES :
A Dutch man from Amsterdam who goes by the name of Raffles van Exel. He is also known – in court records—as Raffles Dawson and Raffles Benson. He was on the fourth floor of the Beverly Hilton Hotel in one of Houston’s suites when she died. He appeared downstairs in the lobby shortly thereafter, wearing aviator sunglasses, sobbing.
As usual, he had an entourage in tow, including Quinton Aaron, the actor who played the football player in “The Blind Side.” Raffles, in one of his many PR Newswire releases, recently announced that he’s producing movies with Aaron. It’s just one of many ventures he announces regularly. For someone who has no obvious means of support, he is a regular on PR Newswire and You Tube. On the latter, you can find him interviewing friends of Michael Jackson. It is assumed that he sells stories to tabloids. He regularly includes names of tabloid reporters like Kevin Frazier of “The Insider” on his Tweets.
Despite the shock of Whitney’s death, Raffles still made it downstairs to Clive Davis’s party. He was dressed in formal wear, had Whitney’s tickets in his hand, and intended to sit at her table. Just inside the ballroom he was comforted by celebrities to whom he related his story—“I found Whitney.” Gayle King hugged him. Quincy Jones listened patiently to his story. A security guard told me later, “Well, he was up there.” He was also hanging around with Houston all week prior to her death. On Tuesday when she emerged from a nightclub, looking disheveled, Raffles appears in a photograph on TMZ like a deer in headlights. He is standing right behind her in a powder blue suit. On Twitter, he wrote: “STOP reading the stupid blogs.. Whitney had a great time, she looked amazing. Nothing was wrong, it was just DAMN hot in that club.”
But who is Raffles van Exel? He’s one of Hollywood’s mysteries. I first met him in 2005 hanging around the Jackson family during Michael Jackson’s child molestation trial. After Michael went abroad, Raffles was often seen with Michael’s father, Joseph Jackson. He trades on being an “insider” when there’s a scandal. No one really knows him, but he’s always where there’s action and celebrities. On the internet he claims to own a number of companies including Raffles Entertainment. He’s also been sued a couple of times, once by a partner in something called Max Records, Inc., and once by a private aviation company in Los Angeles. I spoke to the plane company and they said they can’t comment because the situation is ongoing. On Twitter he claims to be managing “my girl,” Chaka Khan. There are plenty of pictures of Raffles on the internet with celebrities. You can see him with everyone from Magic Johnson to Sandra Bullock. If ever there was a real life Zelig, he is it.
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