The publicists for Hollywood star Tom Cruise have denied that the film actor is scouting for a "€12,000,000" property in the San Gwann area, MaltaToday was told.
42 West, the New York-based agency that represents Tom Cruise, categorically denied that the star was looking for property in Malta, when faced with reports in the national and overseas press of the actor's mysterious house-hunting in the locality.
Asked whether the star had expressed the desire to buy a house in Malta, Cruise's rep denied the claim, while also denying that Cruise had employed the services of Italian property broker Alessandro Proto Consulting.
"It is not true," Patricia Holdstein, assistant publicist at 42 West, told MaltaToday on the phone.
A further email, asking her to confirm whether the star had employed Alessandro Proto Consulting to search for the €12 million pad, was answered with some more clarity: "It is NOT TRUE," Holdstein wrote.
A report published in The Times back in December 2011 stated that Cruise was on the lookout for a property in Malta after he paid a 'secret visit' to his friend, the fellow actor and producer Brad Pitt, while the latter was shooting World War Z on our shores last year.
The report specified that Cruise had 'given his agency something of a mission impossible' and asked that the home is to have a 200-metre living room.
Then, a more recent report - published on 29 February - claimed that the Top Gun star was eyeing a San Gwann property that supposedly belonged to one of the most "prominent families" in Malta. Altogether the €12 million villa has eight bedrooms, six bathrooms, an indoor and an outdoor pool, a gym and a private cinema. It also has a living room the size of a tennis court.
Asked to comment on the reports of Cruise's house-hunt, Malta Film Commissioner Peter Busuttil could not confirm the actor's secret visit to Brad Pitt while on the set of World War Z: "It is speculation," Busuttil told MaltaToday.
Alessandro Proto who?
Alessandro Proto (Photo: Panorama)
Whether Tom Cruise is really scouting for a property in the San Gwann, Iklin, or Gharghur environs has yet to be seen, even though all the estate agents MaltaToday spoke to have dispelled the existence of a €12 million property in the area, unless the price has been inflated. Still, the real question is who the publicity-hungry, 'property broker to the stars' Alessandro Proto is.
The web is awash with Proto's name as it accompanies the names of stars like Mel Gibson, Cruise, Madonna, Jude Law, Matt Damon, Johnny Depp and George Clooney, all house-hunting in Italy according to the press, and all entrusting their quest to Alessandro Proto, a 37-year-old, self-styled financier whose Lugano firm (with just €100,000 in capital according to Italian journalist Salvatore Gaziano, who interviewed him) is now also in Milan, Barcelona, Rome, Paris and New York.
But when Proto claimed he was selling Clooney's villa at Laglio because his girlfriend, the Italian showgirl Elisabetta Canalis, had had enough of prying paparazzi, it was Canalis herself who denied the claim as a 'big fat lie': "Someone's speculating for some free publicity to raise the price of property."
Proto did reply to the denial, saying the Laglio villa had the interest of none other than footballer David Beckham.
Even more blunt is the Italian news magazine Panorama, which says the former door-to-door salesman became an overnight web sensation by claiming millionaire Donald Trump had chosen him as his representative in Italy. "A megalomaniac? Maybe just a bright-looking kid who has the right contacts, won over with some brass cheek, smooth talking, and most important of all, the ability to look serious when it's required."
There's no doubt about Proto's 'thing big' philosophy. La Repubblica's finance blog mocked Proto's claims that he would invest in crippled Greece after meeting with the heads of the EU: "Athens and Brussels jumped at the offer... the Greek debt spread, mysteriously, did not react to the good news."
The Corriere di Veneto - as recently as 28 February - noted that Alessandro Proto's name had been mentioned on various newspapers with announcements that stars like Leonardo di Caprio, Emma Watson, Rihanna, Elton John, and Ricky Martin wanted to purchase properties in Verona, apart from the now famous villa in Valpolicella that was presumably bought by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
But beyond the free publicity remedied by Proto, so far there is no trace of celebrities buying property in Verona. Even Johnny Depp, who reportedly was negotiating the acquisition of a palace in Venice with the real estate company, put an end to the rumours saying that "there is nothing good that can come out of that water."
Proto responded by claiming the soundness of his company, "by concluding good deals with companies such as Unicredit, Fiat and Mediobanca."
But even the notable Italian financial newspaper Il Sole 24 ore has questioned the veracity of Prodo's influence on global finance, having carried the denials of clothing giant Tod's and Mediobanca that Proto had negotiated a 2% acquisition of Tod's.
"Johnny Depp was seriously interested in buying a home in Venice," Proto told the press. "But he did not. The real problem, if anything, are the bad words used by the actor against a beautiful city."
Wait till Tom Cruise sees San Gwann...
Additional reporting Jurgen Balzan.