How The Daily News Fueled Rumors Brittany Murphy Was Killed By an Eccentric Millionaire

In dark Internet corners, speculation simmers about a millionaire named Arturo Globenfeldt. Two years ago, the Daily News reported Brittany Murphy's husband owed Globenfeldt $16 million. Was Murphy's death somehow related to this debt? No, the Daily News was punked.

Famespy covered Murphy's death under the headline "BRITTANY MURPHY DEAD AT 32 OF HEART ATTACK 3 Weeks After Husband Mysteriously Stopped Breathing; Are The Two Related?" Meanwhile, numerous message boards are filled with similarly dark speculation about Murphy's husband and some shady dealings he had with a yacht-dwelling millionaire named Arturo Globenfeldt.

All this can be traced back to an elaborate prank played on the Daily News. It started with a couple of articles then-Daily News gossip columnist Ben Widdicombe wrote in 2007 about Simon Monjack, Murphy's highly skeezy husband, after he disappeared mysteriously for 10 days. In the first short item, Widdicombe writes:

Is someone trying to harm Brittany Murphy?

A source who used to work for the perky star says she talks darkly of "a high-powered Hollywood player" who is allegedly stalking her.

And when her then-boyfriend (now husband), Simon Monjack, disappeared for 10 days in April, Murphy claimed he had been kidnapped by agents of this mysterious figure, says the source

"When he came back, he had head injuries," says the former insider. "He was pale and sometimes had trouble standing."

Not only that, but the former staffer also claims Murphy said she was unable to pay him because the money had been used for ransom...

Monjack, a screenwriter, is not short of enemies. Several anonymous sources have posted unflattering stories on the Internet about his past relationships. On June 13, a man identifying himself as Arturo Globenfeldt posted a message on Monjack's Imdb.com page claiming he owes him $16 million in film investment money.

(emphasis mine)

The mysterious "high-powered Hollywood player" is singled out as the potential kidnapper, but it was in this article Globenfeldt's name was first ominously linked to Murphy's. It's easy to see how the Globenfeldt rumor would begin.

Take a look at the comment Globenfeldt left on Monjack's IMDB page. (The comment has since been deleted):

Thu Jul 5 2007 06:51:11
I have backed several of this charlatan's projects in Cyprus. Now my Cypriate contacts tell me he has run off with a cool US $6,000,000 of their investment and US $16,000,000 of mine.

Please contact me if you have any knowledge of the whereabouts of this vile fellow.

- Arturo Globenfeldt

How The Daily News Fueled Rumors Brittany Murphy Was Killed By an Eccentric Millionaire

So, the fact that a multi-millionaire was using IMDB to collect a $16 million debt did not trip Widdicombe's highly-tuned 'bullshit' meter. Fair enough, he is a busy journalist. But Globenfeldt's blog, Arturoglobenfeldt.blogspot.com, should have signaled something was hilariously amiss.

Here, a series of glamor shots feature a heavyset, middle-aged "Arturo" in various alluring poses, his shirt invariably open while he flashes a look that suggests nothing more or less than: "Let's fuck." There is a picture of his massive yacht "La Machisma," from which he says he wrote the blog's incredible opening post:

I am at the minute on the poop with a good blanc in my hand; 1887, of course! The sun is baking me and I am in need of a good shower :). I may go below with some DVD disks I picked up in the Tunis bazaar. Aunt Pelagia had doubts as to whether they would work with my DVD player; it says 'multi-region' on the card-board container, so I am hoping they will.

How The Daily News Fueled Rumors Brittany Murphy Was Killed By an Eccentric Millionaire

In light of all this, Widdicombe filed a follow-up item about the Case of the Missing $16 million, in which both Globenfeldt (emailing from his yacht) and Monjack confirm the issue had been resolved.

Thank God! A clearly relieved Arturo wrote on his blog:

My dealings with Monjack are now at an end... In other news: I have commissioned a new yacht. Specs to come soon. Any ideas for a name, boys? The Monjack, perhaps? :)

Of course, Artuo was a fiction. The blog and the IMDB post were pranks. A few months later, the Blogger user "Arturo Globenfeldt" posted on a family blog—this time signing his name as Rob:

P.S. I'm posting as Arturo Globenfeldt because Gmail won't let me set up a new account for some reason... The name was part of a dare to see if I could get mentioned in a newspaper in print, and I did... A reporter actually contacted me about a totally made up investment I said I made (as Arturo). It's all pretty convoluted but it just goes to show how gullible people can be.

How The Daily News Fueled Rumors Brittany Murphy Was Killed By an Eccentric Millionaire

We salute you, Rob: You successfully punked the Daily News, and your specatcular prank lives on in the conspiracy theories of a hundred celebrity gossip bloggers. Any prank played upon the Daily News henceforth will be known as a "Globenfeldt".

UPDATE:Ben Widdicombe confirms via email that Monjack played along when he spoke to him—probably to project the image of a wealthy playboy. What a fameball. Writes Widdicombe:

I spoke with Monjack over the phone before the second item and he did not question Globenfeldt's indentity. Indeed, by saying the "$16 million misunderstanding" had been cleared up, he tacitly confirmed the story.

By chance, I also met Monjack socially (at Beige, go figure) a short while afterwards. Over a lengthy conversation during which the items were discussed, he neither challenged the veracity of anything that was written nor suggested Globenfeldt did not exist.

It's certainly possible that it suited Simon for the world to think he was blithely settling $16 million "misunderstandings" in between marrying Hollywood starlets. So if Globenfeldt was a prank, it was one it which Monjack collaborated. But, the point of the story was always Murphy's paranoia about Hollywood and the very well-known "Mr Big" she thought was trying to get her—not this other guy.