Investors showered a socialite's husband with more than $500,000 to build an online mall, where customers maneuvered their avatars into virtual Chanel and H&M shops. They claim the money was blown on living expenses. But did they honestly think this terrible idea would ever make them a dime? Really?
Manhattan prosecutors claim that Andrew Albert, husband of Annie Churchill, the socialite ex-wife of Winston Churchill's grandson, funneled his investors' money into groceries, loft renovations and dog care. He had promised to use the money to build On1Ave.com, which would offer users "a virtual stroll down a luxurious shopping street" and "even allow shoppers to try on clothes." Albert vehemently denies the charge and has filed his own countersuit, alleging libel.
But, Jesus, Albert's investors were almost definitely going to take a bath anyway. A virtual reality mall? Was there a plan to make Max Headroom the concierge? Was the pitch deck pilfered from an Apple Quadra abandoned in some attic in 1996? It's actually kind of shocking that the prefix "cyber" is nowhere in the domain name. And it doesn't sound like the investors were founts of savvy advice; one put in money after "he had a crush on me," according to the socialite. People: A fundamentally good idea can withstand all sorts of ridiculous and even suspicious expenditures on the part of a spendthrift who is implementing it. A horrible idea, meanwhile, is impervious to the best, most responsible execution.
[Photo of Albert via DNAInfo.com]