The estate of Rene Rivkin is hopelessly insolvent and some of the paperwork being thrown up by bankruptcy trustee Anthony Warner makes for very interesting reading.

The Australian’s court reporter, Susannah Moran, today once again proved she was a good poach from The AFR with this interesting story about the $39 million owed by the late stockbroker, $29 million of it to the ATO.

However, Moran did not report that the trustee has listed one of Rivkin’s assets as a $32,000 loan to News Ltd’s highest paid gossip columnist, The Sunday Telegraph’s Ros Reines.

Whilst Reines gave Rivkin a great run over the years, this wasn’t some cash-for-comment scandal because Sydney’s best-known gossip columnist was commissioned to write a book on Rivkin.

Reines told Crikey today that she had taken legal advice from Nick Eddy and had sorted out the issue with the bankruptcy trustee and would not be repaying the $32,000 which Rivkin deemed to be a loan without ever producing a loan agreement.

However, she did say the question of ownership of the manuscript was in dispute. Rivkin originally paid Reines the $32,000 to produce the first 70,000 words and then they both took it to Penguin, which paid Reines some additional funds to expand it to 100,000 words.

However, Reines and Penguin both insisted that the book take in some of the Swiss banking and Offset Alpine controversies. But Rivkin wouldn’t come at that, so the project was dropped. Reines says Rivkin refused to speak to her from that point on.

It is also believed that Neil Chenoweth’s popular book, Packer’s Lunch, which won the book Walkley last year and is currently being used in an subscription drive, rendered the Reines alternative unpublishable because it had such great detail on the Swiss banking and Offset Alpine scandals.

Whilst Penguin is not interested in publishing the book, it will be interesting to see if Rivkin’s bankruptcy trustee can secure the copyright and then flog it off to raise cash for creditors.

The different versions of the book would be interesting to compare, because Rivkin spent more than a year reworking much of Reines’s first draft, giving quite an insight into his deluded view of the world.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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