Lapo Elkann's New Cause

Remember Lapo Elkann, the grandson of the Italian industrialist Gianni Agnelli and the man at the center of one of Europe's most spectactular tabloid stories in 2005? The Fiat heir decamped to New York to escape the limelight after he became a gossip fixture, which is generally what happens to the sons and daughters of the powerful and wealthy when they're picked up at the home of transsexual prostitutes and then taken to the hospital for cocaine and heroin overdoses. Lapo spent some time in rehab in Arizona before moving to New York (where his "aunt" lives, Diane von Furstenberg!) and resuming his business career, which now consists of designing things like pairs of sunglasses that sell for $1,400. The Observer's Spencer Morgan checks in with him today and skirts the drug and not-so-hot tranny mess and focuses on his love for—what else?—Israel!

Italian playboy turned workaholic entrepreneur Lapo Elkann recently took on the appointment of Global Ambassador to the biggest hospital in the Middle East, the Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, which treats roughly two million Jewish and Muslim patients.

I'm Italian, but at the same time I'm Jewish... And I think it's a country which has a big potential. It proved it, but it can prove it even more. In the sense that it's an important part of the world where if you manage, even in a little, little, little, little way to bring partially an energy which influences the peace process, it's something extremely important. Nowadays, it's more fashionable for many people to support Palestine. I think, instead, in one way or another, it's not Palestine or Israel; it's having a country which works where people have the opportunity of being together. ... There's a lot that can be done, and what can be done can be done through bringing good energy.

To that end, Lapo is now building soccer fields for sick kids at the hospital. (Presumably the really sick ones who are hooked up to tubes and stuff will have to find other activities to occupy their time.) We're sure that Israeli leaders are thrilled by their new high-profile booster. We'll also venture to guess that Lapo will steer clear from any public appearances with Israeli singer Dana International.

Where's Lapo? Shhhh! This Euro Wrangler Is No Eunuch, Ladies! [Observer]