Oleg Cassini’s Widow Hits Conde Nast with $10M Defamation Suit

Marianne Nestor-Cassini is asking for an apology for a piece in Vanity Fair about her family’s legal squabbles

Oleg Cassini’s widow, Marianne Nestor-Cassini, has slapped Conde Nast with a $10 million lawsuit alleging defamation over a September 2010 Vanity Fair piece that examined the intra-familial legal battle over the late designer’s estate.

Entitled “Cassini Royale,” the article by Maureen Orth, describes Nestor-Cassini as the fashion icon’s “secret” wife and depicts her as litigious — involved in suits as either plaintiff or defendant with everyone from Neil Diamond to Cassini’s daughters. She had worked for the Camelot era clothier, but their marriage was unknown to many of Cassini’s friends until after his death.

But in a suit filed last week in New York Supreme Court, Nestor-Cassini says the article gets important facts wrong, and alleges that Conde Nast executives, including Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, failed to respond to her calls about concerns with the reporting.

She further claims that her reputation was “maliciously” damaged during the reporting and fact-checking stages of the piece.

“The article contains patently false and misleading salacious, and prurient representations and descriptions and other disparaging and scandalous material concerning Marianne,” the suit reads.

A spokesperson for Conde Nast said the company did not comment on pending litigation. Reppert Kelly, an attorney for Cassini, could not immediately be reached.

Despite being married to the designer for thirty years, Nestor-Cassini maintains that she is not a public figure and that the article and the photos of her that appear in the magazine should not have been published without her consent.

“The private details of Marianne’s life, in particular, are not a matter of public interest and are not otherwise newsworthy,” the suit reads.

In addition to the $10 million, Nestor-Cassini is also asking Conde Nast to issue a written retraction and apology.  

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.