Who is Rob Gold­stone?

The Bri­tish-born pub­li­cist is in the spot­light as a fa­cil­i­ta­tor of a con­tro­ver­sial meet­ing at Trump Tower

The Washington Post Sunday - - NEWS - BY SHAWN BOBURG AND JACK GILLUM shawn.boburg@wash­post.com jack.gillum@wash­post.com

The email to Don­ald Trump Jr. de­scribed an in­tri­cate back chan­nel be­tween the Krem­lin and the Trump cam­paign that could pro­vide in­crim­i­nat­ing in­for­ma­tion about Hil­lary Clin­ton — and its emer­gence in the past week has cast a spot­light on its writer, the pub­li­cist who por­trayed him­self as the emis­sary in this sen­si­tive task.

Pub­li­cist Rob Gold­stone is a col­or­ful fig­ure, friends and for­mer as­so­ci­ates said, a bon vi­vant who posts self-dep­re­cat­ing videos on so­cial me­dia, hob­nobs with New York so­cialites and some­times uses blus­ter and hy­per­bole to open doors. The bou­tique PR firm he has run for 20 years with a part­ner has re­lied on a small ros­ter of clients and piece­work, set­ting up shop for sev­eral years in rent-free of­fice space and ne­glect­ing to pay taxes some years in the 2000s, ac­cord­ing to in­ter­views and records.

Gold­stone’s for­tunes ap­pear to have bright­ened in 2012, when as­so­ci­ates say he took on his most high-pro­file client, Rus­sian pop singer Emin Agalarov, whose Krem­lin-con­nected fam­ily has done busi­ness with Don­ald Trump in the past. Gold­stone, 57, ap­pears to have since made at least 18 trips to Rus­sia, one of them just days be­fore he emailed Trump Jr. to ar­range a meet­ing, an analysis of his Face­book pro­file shows.

On May 30, 2016, Gold­stone posted on Face­book that he was at Cro­cus City Hall, a Moscow en­ter­tain­ment venue that is owned by the Agalarov fam­ily. Agalarov’s In­sta­gram feed sug­gests he was in the same area that day.

Four days later, Gold­stone emailed Trump Jr. alert­ing him to “very high level” in­for­ma­tion that “is part of Rus­sia and its gov­ern­ment’s sup­port for Mr. Trump.”

“Emin just called and asked me to con­tact you with some­thing very in­ter­est­ing,” Gold­stone wrote. “The Crown pros­e­cu­tor of Rus­sia met with his fa­ther Aras this morning and in their meet­ing of­fered to pro­vide the Trump cam­paign with some of­fi­cial doc­u­ments and in­for­ma­tion that would in­crim­i­nate Hil­lary and her deal­ings with Rus­sia and would be very use­ful to your fa­ther.”

Don­ald Trump Jr., who has said he has had a “ca­sual re­la­tion­ship” with Gold­stone since meet­ing him in 2014 at a Trump golf course in Florida, wrote back wel­com­ing Gold­stone’s of­fer. But af­ter the mes­sages were made pub­lic in the past week, he and another at­tendee, Rus­sian lawyer Natalia Ve­sel­nit­skaya, de­nied col­lu­sion be­tween Rus­sia and the cam­paign and said that other top­ics were dis­cussed.

Trump Jr. said Ve­sel­nit­skaya had “no mean­ing­ful” in­for­ma­tion about Clin­ton, and both he and Ve­sel­nit­skaya said the con­ver­sa­tion fo­cused on her op­po­si­tion to the Mag­nit­sky Act, which pe­nal­izes Rus­sian of­fi­cials ac­cused of par­tic­i­pat­ing in the de­ten­tion and sub­se­quent death of Sergei Mag­nit­sky, a Rus­sian lawyer who un­earthed an ap­par­ent $230 mil­lion fraud com­mit­ted by Rus­sian of­fi­cials. He was ar­rested by some of the very Rus­sian of­fi­cials he said had com­mit­ted fraud and died in a Rus­sian jail.

Ve­sel­nit­skaya has also de­nied that she was work­ing for the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment.

Scott Bal­ber, a New York lawyer re­tained by Emin and Aras Agalarov, de­nied that Gold­stone’s emails ac­cu­rately out­lined the ori­gins of the meet­ing. He told The Wash­ing­ton Post that Emin Agalarov is an ac­quain­tance of Ve­sel­nit­skaya and that she asked him whether he could se­cure a meet­ing for her with Trump of­fi­cials.

Gold­stone, who at­tended the June meet­ing, mean­while has said lit­tle to ex­plain the vary­ing ac­counts pre­sented in his email and in re­cent state­ments by some of the meet­ing’s par­tic­i­pants.

“As you know on at­tor­ney ad­vice I am not com­ment­ing on any as­pect of the story yet,” Gold­stone wrote in an email to The Post on Fri­day. In re­sponse to a sep­a­rate email ask­ing about who at­tended the June meet­ing, how­ever, Gold­stone wrote on Fri­day that he “paid no at­ten­tion to any of them or their names.”

Gold­stone’s lawyer, Bob Gage, also de­clined to com­ment Fri­day.

In an in­ter­view last Sun­day, be­fore the email came to light, Gold­stone told The Post that Ve­sel­nit­skaya wanted to dis­cuss ways that Trump, if elected pres­i­dent, could help with the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment’s ban on Amer­i­cans’ adopt­ing Rus­sian chil­dren.

Gold­stone was born in Manch­ester, Eng­land, and worked as a tabloid jour­nal­ist in his 20s, ac­cord­ing to his firm’s web­site.

Jonathan Perry said he met Gold­stone in the early 1980s when both worked for the broad­caster LBC, where Perry found Gold­stone to have a “nat­u­ral ex­u­ber­ance.” Perry said he kept in con­tact with Gold­stone, re­united with him in 2013 and “was pleased to see that Rob was still the same as he’d been 25 years pre­vi­ously.”

“Some of the me­dia por­trays Rob as a clown, an idiot who has a pen­chant for silly hats, an ex­hi­bi­tion­ist,” Perry said. “Those of us who know him well re­al­ize that is just a small part of his rich, warm and hu­mor­ous per­son­al­ity and gen­er­ous na­ture.”

Gold­stone be­gan work­ing for re­tail mu­sic gi­ant HMV in the early 1990s and moved to New York as its in­ter­na­tional mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor, his web­site says. In 1997, he launched his own com­pany, Oui 2 En­ter­tain­ment.

Joel Si­mon, chief ex­ec­u­tive of a JSM Mu­sic, a pro­duc­tion com­pany in New York, said he met Gold­stone so­cially in the early 2000s. He agreed to al­low Gold­stone to base his two-per­son firm in spare space in Si­mon’s Man­hat­tan of­fice in ex­change for Gold­stone’s writ­ing free news re­leases from time to time. That ar­range­ment ended in 2009, when Si­mon asked Gold­stone to start pay­ing $2,500 per month for the of­fice space that Oui 2 En­ter­tain­ment had oc­cu­pied rent-free for years. Gold­stone de­murred. “Looks like the rent will be out of our reach,” he wrote in a July 22, 2009, email to Si­mon, who said in an in­ter­view that Gold­stone’s firm seemed to be hav­ing “some ma­jor fi­nan­cial prob­lems” at the time.

Si­mon de­scribed Gold­stone as “an ec­cen­tric” who had con­nec­tions with a hand­ful of pow­er­ful ex­ec­u­tives in the mu­sic busi­ness. Gold­stone of­ten tried to get Si­mon to work on projects, in­clud­ing the Miss Uni­verse pageant that Gold­stone helped plan in Moscow in 2013. Si­mon agreed to do a few projects with Gold­stone — he pro­duced a song for an ac­tress on the ca­ble show “The Real Housewives of New York” — but cut ties af­ter tir­ing of what he said was Gold­stone’s ten­dency to em­bel­lish.

Si­mon said that Gold­stone por­trayed the “Real Housewives” project as a big op­por­tu­nity but that it turned out to be “a dis­as­ter.”

“Ev­ery­thing was al­ways pre­sented as ex­trav­a­gant and elab­o­rate,” he said. “But how it was pre­sented to me was never how it re­ally was.”

Si­mon said Gold­stone’s firm was small and re­lied on a small num­ber of wealthy clients. “Rob would al­ways fol­low the money,” Si­mon said.

The firm was hit with liens for more than $40,000 in fed­eral taxes from 2001 through 2004, records show. In 2006, the firm paid the bal­ances and the liens were re­leased. Around the same time, Gold­stone and his busi­ness part­ner, David Wil­son, bought a $413,000 con­do­minium unit in Hobo­ken, New Jer­sey, prop­erty records show.

Reached Satur­day, Wil­son de­clined to com­ment on Oui 2’s tax liens or other claims about the firm’s fi­nances, and Gold­stone and his at­tor­ney did not re­spond to an email.

Gold­stone’s work over the past decade has var­ied from is­su­ing news re­leases for start-ups to plan­ning a cham­pag­ne­soaked “flower power” party at a cas­tle in the Hamp­tons for one of his clients, a wealthy pro­ducer of elec­tronic dance mu­sic. Oui 2 En­ter­tain­ment has helped plan events fea­tur­ing A-list celebri­ties, in­clud­ing a Friar’s Club Roast of film­maker Quentin Tarantino, a birthday bash for singer Tony Ben­nett and a gala hon­or­ing film di­rec­tor Martin Scors­ese, ac­cord­ing to its web­site.

In re­cent years, Gold­stone has fo­cused on man­ag­ing Emin, the son of a bil­lion­aire con­struc­tion mag­nate, as Emin tried to break into the Euro­pean and U.S. mar­kets, Si­mon said. “That’s where [Gold­stone] gets his bread but­tered,” Si­mon said.

Gold­stone reg­u­larly an­nounces his where­abouts on Face­book, check­ing in at var­i­ous lo­ca­tions more than 600 times over more than four years, in­clud­ing more than a dozen first-class air­port lounges and other spots in 30 coun­tries. Those check-ins re­vealed the May 2016 trip to Rus­sia — a coun­try where he has checked in nearly 90 times since Jan­uary 2013 — with stops in St. Peters­burg and Moscow.

The elec­tronic-dance-mu­sic pro­ducer, Ivan Wilzig, who goes by “Sir Ivan,” praised Gold­stone as a pub­li­cist who “will try to keep a client happy.” Wilzig said Gold­stone in­vited him to meet Emin when the Rus­sian singer was per­form­ing in New York six weeks ago. Sir Ivan went to the show but de­cided against wait­ing to meet Emin back­stage.

He said he doubts Gold­stone had much of a role in any po­ten­tial col­lu­sion. “I don’t make much of it,” he said about the email. “He might have just been par­rot­ing what a client told him.”

IRINA BUZHOR/KOM­M­ER­SANT PHOTO VIA REUTERS

Pub­li­cist Rob Gold­stone, seen at the Miss Uni­verse pageant in Moscow in 2013, is em­broiled in the Trump cam­paign-Rus­sia saga.

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