Red carpet film premieres and appearances by Hollywood A listers make it the epitome of glamour and the most prestigious date in the film world’s calendar.
But behind the images of posh frocks and glitzy parties at the heart of the French Riviera, there is a seedy underbelly of sex for sale at the Cannes Film Festival which finishes today.
An investigation by MailOnline has revealed that up market call girls from across Europe, known as ‘putes de luxes’ in France, flock to the annual event to sell their bodies in luxury hotels.
The going rate for sex with a high class escort guaranteeing discretion to get round France’s strict anti-prostitution laws is around 1,000 euros an hour.
But a more subtle form of prostitution exists on some of the superyachts which provide a floating home during the festival for Hollywood executives, film companies, and millionaire film fans.
Red carpet film premieres and appearances by Hollywood A listers make it the epitome of glamour and the most prestigious date in the film world’s calendar
The crew member said he believed the use of escorts on yachts had become ‘much more discreet’ in recent years. There is no suggestion that anything inappropriate happened on any of the yachts pictured
Those who are ‘on tour’ in Cannes include Kazakh independent escort Alica, 25, (pictured) who normally works in the UK, but is now advertising her services on the Euro Girls Escort website
The website also lists Marina, 31 (pictured), who claims to be an ‘independent VIP high class escort’ from Belgium who normally works in Monaco, but is in Cannes from May 15 to 31
Models, aspiring actresses and some Instagram influencers are invited to parties or to stay on board, enjoying champagne on tap.
But the unwritten expectation in some cases is that so-called ‘yacht girls’ will have to thank their hosts by having sex with them or other guests.
While there is nothing as vulgar as a price list, they can expect to round off their stay by being given a plain envelope stuffed with cash.
Back on dry land, the rules are simpler with escorts charging customers by the hour, and increasing their usual rates for the festival because they are in such demand.
Many can rely on boosting their earnings with tips and gifts, particularly from wealthy Middle Eastern clients.
MailOnline found one escort outside Le Majestic hotel at Cannes which is known for its celebrity guests paying 2,000 euros a night for a room during the festival, compared to a normal rate of 395 euros.
The blonde Slovakian call girl who gave her name as Klara was dressed in a revealing thigh split dress, making her look no different to the ranks of models, actresses and Instagram influencers tottering around in high heels as they headed out to film events.
Speaking perfect English, she said: ‘I normally work in Paris, but I come here every year on tour. It is a chance to make big money.
‘Sometimes, I just sit in a hotel lobby or in the bar. Men come up and ask me if I am working or want to do business. They might tell me their room number. I then follow them upstairs.
‘You have to be careful because the hotels don’t like it going on, but they cannot stop it. This is the oldest industry in the world and the film business is all about glamour and excitement. Of course, people want to have sex.
‘I charge 1,000 euros an hour, but there is a discount for two hours or more, and the rate for the whole night is 5,000 euros – but in reality, people often only take a few minutes.
MailOnline found one escort outside Le Majestic hotel (pictured) at Cannes which is known for its celebrity guests paying 2,000 euros a night for a room during the festival, compared to a normal rate of 395 euros
Klara said that one client last week had been so impressed by her all-night service that he bought her a 3,000 euro necklace from the Messika jewellery store on Cannes’ famous seafront Boulevard de La Croisette (pictured)
It also features the super luxurious Carlton Hotel (pictured) where guests this year are said to have included Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jude Law, Michael Douglas and his actress wife Catherine Zeta-Jones
‘Then, it is just a question of chatting to them for the rest of the hour if they cannot rise to the occasion again. It doesn’t help that they may be drunk or on drugs, unless it is Viagra and then I am in for a hard time.
‘The money is no problem if they can afford to stay somewhere like Le Majestic. But what they are paying for is discretion. I would never disclose the name of anyone.’
Klara said that one client last week had been so impressed by her all-night service that he bought her a 3,000 euro necklace from the Messika jewellery store on Cannes’ famous seafront Boulevard de La Croisette which is packed with designer shops.
The Boulevard which stretches for more than a mile is home to the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, as well as beach clubs and restaurants where parties are held every night of the festival.
It also features the super luxurious Carlton Hotel where guests this year are said to have included Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jude Law, Michael Douglas and his actress wife Catherine Zeta-Jones.
A waiter at a restaurant who asked not be named said: ‘The Carlton is the best place in town, but security is incredibly tight. Only hotel guests are allowed to enter in the evenings – but I was told two escorts had a room booked there.
‘It cost them nearly 3,000 euros a night – but they easily got that money back. There was no shortage of men wanting to use their services. But privacy is everything and they would never discuss the identity of their clients.’
MailOnline found evidence of escorts travelling to Cannes for the duration of the 12 day festival with some accepting payment by credit card with the promise of a harmless fake payment description appearing on statements.
Those who are ‘on tour’ in Cannes include Kazakh independent escort Alica, 25, who normally works in the UK, but is now advertising her services on the Euro Girls Escort website.
The site states that she is in Cannes for a month from May 15, charging between 1,000 euros an hour for ‘outcalls’ and 5,500 euros for 12 hours, and listing her UK mobile number as a contact point.
The site states that she is in Cannes for a month from May 15, charging between 1,000 euros an hour for ‘outcalls’ and 5,500 euros for 12 hours
The 5ft 6ins blonde, who speaks English, French, German and Russian, charges 500 euros an hour for straight sex with a list of extra charges for additional ‘services’
Alica’s entry states: ‘Hi, welcome to my world. I’m lovely friendly Young sexy natural girl. Open minded. My pleasure to go with you for dinner date, be your companion. Travel around. Amazing time, have fun. Just tell me what do you want.’
The website also lists Marina, 31, who claims to be an ‘independent VIP high class escort’ from Belgium who normally works in Monaco, but is in Cannes from May 15 to 31.
The 5ft 6ins blonde, who speaks English, French, German and Russian, charges 500 euros an hour for straight sex with a list of extra charges for additional ‘services’ including a two girl bisexual experience.
Her entry describes herself as ‘refined, cultured and passionate’ and ‘eager to offer pleasant massages to you gentlemen whether it’s for a few hours or an extended stay’, as well as an ‘intense and naughty moment’.
This week the Port de Cannes marina and the Port Pierre Canto marina just over a mile away at Pointe Croisette were packed with privately owned superyachts including some hired out for the week to film industry figures.
The Bay of Cannes was also full of vessels anchored offshore and visible from the beach and promenade with tenders used to ferry guests to and from landing stages.
Data from ship tracking websites analysed by MailOnline showed other superyachts only a few miles away around Antibes and Nice. Some of the gas guzzling yachts which belch outs tons of carbon dioxide are said to cost more than $2million a week to rent.
A crew member on one mega yacht who cannot be identified due to having signed a Non Disclosure Agreement with his wealthy employer told MailOnline that the presence of ‘yacht girls’ at parties on some boats was an ‘open secret’.
He said: ‘This is Cannes and people holding parties on boats want to have celebrities and beautiful people among their guests. It all adds to the glamour of the occasion.
‘There are a lot of models and wannabe actresses who will do anything for an invite – and I mean anything. They might not call themselves escorts, but there is a blurring of the lines.
‘They might get some money as a thank you or some sort of gift if they sleep with someone, or it could just get them access to people with power and influence. It is an arrangement that suits everyone involved.
‘It is certainly not the case that every model invited to a party lands up in bed with someone, but it does happen and the crew see it all. The crews are trained to keep their mouths shut, but you hear tales.’
The crew member said he believed the use of escorts on yachts had become ‘much more discreet’ in recent years, in part because of France’s anti-prostitution laws introduced in 2016 to make it illegal to buy sex, punishable by a fine of up to 3,750 euros.
While it is still legal for a person to sell sexual acts, providing they pay tax on their income, it remains illegal to procure sex by acting as a pimp or operating a brothel.
The crew member added that the MeToo movement inspired by the numerous sex abuse allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein in 2017, had also led to ‘people behaving more discreetly’.
A crew member on one mega yacht told MailOnline that the presence of ‘yacht girls’ at parties on some boats was an ‘open secret’. There is no suggestion that anything inappropriate happened on any of the yachts pictured
Yachts from all over the world park up for the famous film festival
He said: ‘I guess nobody wants to be seen openly buying or selling sex. You might want to have beautiful women on your yacht, but you don’t want to be seen as a sleazy old man taking advantage of girls.
‘Another factor is the sanctions against Russia because of the war in Ukraine. It has meant that Russian oligarchs have disappeared from European waters. Those guys knew how to party.
‘The term ‘yacht girl’ also seems to have changed in recent years. I have heard it being used to describe any woman hanging out with a rich man, whether it is on a boat or some place in a resort.’
Things were very different when police busted a prostitution ring supplying 50 women of ‘different nationalities’ to mainly Middle Eastern clients during the Cannes film festival in 2007.
The women who included full time escorts, models and beauty queens serviced men in hotels, on yachts and in the palatial villas which can be rented on the hillsides above Cannes overlooking the Mediterranean.
Clients supplied by the gang included Mutassim Gaddafi, the playboy son of the late Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi who was shot dead alongside his father in 2011.
Lebanese businessman Elie Nahas, the owner of a Beirut model agency and the alleged ringleader of the gang, was arrested when police raided his room at the Carlton Hotel.
Lebanese businessman Elie Nahas, the owner of a Beirut model agency and the alleged ringleader of the gang, was arrested when police raided his room at the Carlton Hotel (pictured)
Pictured: The Carlton Hotel, Cannes, France, where superstars stay at the Film Festival town
Nahas who was identified by police along with seven other members of the vice ring following a lengthy investigation involving wiretaps on phones, later fled from France and was jailed for eight years in his absence by a court in Marseilles.
It was claimed during the trial that some women were brought to Cannes under false pretences and coerced into prostitution.
Nahas, 58, has been protesting his innocence ever since, claiming that he was picked on by prosecutors for being an associate of Gaddafi’s son, having organised a party for him in Marrakesh in 2004 when he reportedly paid $500,000 to Enrique Iglesias to attend, and flew in Carmen Electra for $50,000. Kevin Costner was also reportedly a guest.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter magazine in 2013, he gave an insight into the life of escorts in Cannes, saying that the beautiful call girls target high-end hotels ‘where all the Arabs stay.’
Nahas said: ‘They can make up to $40,000 a night. Arabs are the most generous people in the world. If they like you, they will give you a lot of money.
‘At Cannes, they carry money around in wads of 10,000 euros. To them, it’s just like paper. They don’t even like to count it. They’ll just hand it to the girls without thinking. I know the system.’
He added in the interview that the serious action starts after 10pm with escorts sitting in hotel lobbies, and prospective clients checking them out.
Nahas told the magazine: ‘It’s all done with hand signals. The guys signal their room numbers with their hands and the girls follow them.’
He denied running a vice ring but admitted he arranged for women to come to Cannes during the festival.
Nahas claimed his job was to simply pick them up at Nice International Airport, bring them to the port at Cannes and place them on small boats that took them out to Gaddafi’s yacht, the Che Guevara, and other luxury vessels.
He added: ‘I was not party to anything else. I don’t know what took place between any of them. I had no part of it. They may have just been there to talk and have fun.’
Nahas and a number of veteran escorts spoken to by The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that payment was made in the form of ‘gifts’ in envelopes.
He said: ‘Every year during the festival there are 30 or 40 luxury yachts in the bay at Cannes, and every boat belongs to a very rich person.
‘Every boat has about ten girls on it; they are usually models, and they are usually nude or half nude. It’s drugs and drink and beautiful women. Go out on one and you’ll see.
Nahas said: ‘They can make up to $40,000 a night. Arabs are the most generous people in the world. If they like you, they will give you a lot of money’ Pictured: a Gucci store in Cannes, France
‘The girls are all waiting for their envelopes at the end of the night. It’s been going on there for 60 years.’
A Russian woman overseeing a Paris-based escort agency with branches in London and Dubai, added: ‘It’s always a gift. Clients are told to put the money in an envelope and write ‘gift’ on the outside of it.’
The same article in The Hollywood Reporter quoted a local prostitute in Cannes known as Daisy who said that escorts ‘all look forward’ to the film festival.
She added: ‘There’s a lot of competition because there are so many girls, but the local ones have an advantage. We know the hotel concierges.’
Another veteran film industry insider told the magazine that there was sometimes no difference between escorts at the festival and B- or C-list Hollywood actresses and models who accept payment for sex with rich older men.
He said: ‘These are actresses who made bad career choices and fell off the radar. They tell themselves what they’re doing at Cannes is OK, that they’re just on dates with rich men, when the reality is they’re doing what prostitutes do. But they like the money.’