Revenge: Best Served Cold—With A Dash of Creativity
From Othello to Sweeney Todd to the upcoming Fatal Attraction remake, getting revenge has always been a delicious subject for art and entertainment. But nothing beats the cray-cray of real life.
In just two weeks, Paramount+ will release its remake of the movie break-up from hell, the hot sex and a bunny-boiling ex, Fatal Attraction. Starting April 30—in time for Mother’s Day!—the new version of the 1980s film will be streaming, with Joshua Jackson and Lizzy Caplan reprising the roles of Michael Douglas and Glenn Close.
We here at Digital Party are all for lovers’ revenge, but we prefer ours a bit more petty and less violent. We like revenge served as cold and elegantly as caviar in a silver bowl, at least as delicious for us to watch as it is for the scorned to serve.
Herewith, a few of recent additions to the genre:
Ever since Carly Simon wrote and sang You’re So Vain for Warren Beatty, pop singers have had the option to throw musical shade. The current queen of revenge, Canadian superstar Taylor Swift, has released a veritable catalog of ballads aimed at exes. The best known is Dear John, apparently written about notorious womanizer and one-time beau John Mayer. “Dear John, I see it all, now it was wrong / Don’t you think 19 is too young to be played by your dark twisted games, when I loved you so?” Swift sang in 2010.
Mayer told Rolling Stone the song “really humiliated” him and that he “didn’t deserve it.”
Earlier this year, Miler Cyrus dropped her new single “Flowers” on January 13, which happens to be the birthday of her ex-husband, Australian actor Liam Hemsworth. Cyrus teased the song to her 315.3 million social media followers on that day with a few lines that make it clear it is about the end of a relationship she publicly called “a fucking disaster.”
‘I can love me better / I can love me better babe / I can love me better / I can love me better ah.’
Spurned or angry lovers who lack a platform of mega-stadiums and hundreds of millions of social media followers can and do—if in the one percent—get satisfaction wrecking or making off with pricey art, haute couture, luxury watches, wine or car collections—enjoying a frisson of pettiness the middle classes can only hope to match by keying the car.
The wife of a California car collector caught her husband in flagrante delicato with his secretary and turfed him out. He owned eight classic luxury cars, including Rolls Royces, Corvettes and Ferraris. Before the divorce was finalized, the cars vanished. When the couple and lawyers met to resolve the issue, she slid him four dollars across the table—half of the $8 she got selling them for $1 each at a garage sale.
A few years ago, Sue Gross, soon to be ex-wife of California billionaire Bill Gross, removed a 1932 Picasso painting called Repos from the wall of their shared home and replaced it with an identical replica she painted herself. The real painting eventually sold for $36 million at Sotheby’s. Sue Gross then blew a little more than that—$37.8 million—buying up mansions around her home in a Southern California enclave that she knew her ex wanted to buy.
One legendary ex-wife of a wine collector soaked the labels off all the bottles in his cave before abandoning the nuptial abode, leaving her ex to drink the rest of his pricey vintages guessing whether they went with the chateaubriand or osso buco.
Across the pond, Lady Sarah Graham-Moon, fed up with her husband’s philandering, distributed his wine collection to area villagers, who woke up to find bottles of vintage red on their doorsteps, like milk. Lady Sarah also poured paint over his Lordship’s BMW and hacked one sleeve from each of his £1,000 Savile Row suits. “Why just one?” she explained to reporters. “He only needs one arm for what he does best.”
In Italy, soccer star Francesco Totti and his actress/model wife Ilaria Blasi, known as “Italy’s Posh and Becks”, last year torched their once “fairy tale” marriage with a made-for-TV game of luxury hide and seek. First Blasi stole Totti’s collection of Rolexes watches. Tottie then hid her cherished collection of designer handbags (she named her daughter Chanel). Totti told Corriere della Sera: “What was I supposed to do? I hid the bags, hoping for an exchange.” A “source close to Totti” told Italian media: “All she has to do is return the watches, and this is over.”
Sometimes just a multi-million dollar fire sale is revenge enough. Actress Ellen Barkin dumped millions of dollars worth of gifted jewelry after her divorce from New York billionaire Ron Perelman. After a bruising $20 million divorce that included her ex stationing security guards in their apartment, Barkin called Christie’s and auctioned off millions of dollars of jewelry he’d showered her with during their five year marriage. Off went a $1.5 million apricot diamond ring that he gave her just a month before he abruptly served her with divorce papers; an emerald and gold cuff originally designed for the Duchess of Windsor; and four diamond engagement rings.
Public revenge is—sadly for spectators—too often foiled in advance by divorces that include NDAs. Both of Donald Trump’s divorces involved some sort of gag orders on the exes. Today, a rich and much-married nonagenarian like Rupert Murdoch pays vast sums for legal teams to head off every possible public revenge scenario. Recently, Murdoch made sure that art did not imitate life. Divorcing his fourth wife (and Mick Jagger ex) Jerry Hall, Murdoch’s lawyers reportedly crafted a settlement banning Hall from giving story ideas to the writers of Succession.
Unfortunately, stunts approaching bunny-boiling do still occur. Last year, Austrian Count Konrad Goess-Saurau was found guilty of criminal damage for shooting his divorcing wife’s “old” German pointer named Herman. Countess Susan Goess-Saurau, who serves as a master of the hounds for the Vale of the White Horse Hunt, called the police after Herman turned up missing. The Count claimed the dog had cancer, the Countess insisted that Herman “had a lot of life left in him.”
Not so, of course, the marriage.
Hero image Simona Dumitru via Getty images