Paul Manafort's reported $15,000 ostrich jacket has experts crying fowl
By GINA SALAMONE| NEW YORK DAILY NEWS | AUG 01, 2018 | 2:30 PM
What a bird brain.
Paul Manafort — President Trump’s former campaign chairman who’s currently on trial in Virginia on charges of money laundering, tax evasion and conspiracy — reportedly splurged $15,000 on an ostrich jacket. It’s an oddity even among jet-setters, stylists say.
The allegation took flight in federal court Tuesday, where prosecutors charged that Manafort’s luxuries and bank account benefited from his alleged financial fraud. Specifically, attorney Uzo Asonye accused the lobbyist of not paying taxes on money he earned while working in Ukraine for a political candidate, then using the dough on indulgences like a $2 million house, $21,000 watch and a custom, $15,000 jacket made from an ostrich.”
It’s that last part that’s been ruffling feathers.
“It’s definitely a showboaty thing,” image consultant and celebrity stylist Amanda Sanders told the Daily News. “For a straight, conservative man, it’s an odd choice.”
Prosecutors didn’t specify how the jacket was funded, but court documents submitted last week show that Manafort paid for a karaoke machine and other audio/visual equipment with two separate wire transfers from Cyprus banks in 2010 that totaled about $26,000. Prosecutors claim he laundered tens of millions of dollars he made abroad to dodge paying taxes, funneling money he made in Ukraine through companies in the island countries of Cyprus and the Seychelles, ultimately using it for pricey clothes, cars and home goods.
The sky-high ostrich jacket price tag got critics squawking. Among them, Jimmy Kimmel, who joked on his late-night show Tuesday that “that should be what he has to wear in jail. That should be his only article of clothing. Just sitting in his cell, dressed up like Big Bird, waiting for the trial to start.”
To be fair, Manafort’s ostrich sheath was likely not of the feathered variety but, rather, made from the bird’s skin.
Ostrich leather is distinct because it’s dotted with bumps, where the creatures’ quills once poked out.
“I’ve been a stylist for 18 years and have worked with the biggest names in Hollywood, and nobody has ever requested an ostrich jacket,” Sanders said. “It’s an exotic animal. It’s more frequent to find ostrich shoes and ostrich bags, but not an ostrich jacket.”
In fact, the only time she’s been asked to procure an ostrich jacket was while working as costume designer for the 2001 flick, “Pootie Tang,” inspired by a Chris Rock comedy sketch. The kooky title character, played by Lance Crouther in the film, sports an ostrich coat lent by designer Roberto Cavalli.
“Pootie Tang was over the top,” Sanders explained. “He was this nonsensical character. He wore these outlandish things, and one of them was an ostrich skin coat. He was a movie star and a rock star, but when he sung, no words came out. He made no sense and women threw themselves at him.
“I based the character on Lenny Kravitz,” added Sanders. “Who other than him or Puff Daddy (Diddy) or JAY-Z could pull that off? I can’t understand someone so conservative wanting that or wearing it.”
As for the alleged $15,000 cost of the jacket, it’s higher than your standard ostrich-wear. A "Jean-Claude Jitrois Ostrich Skin Motorcycle Jacket" from the 1980s is currently going for just over $6,000 on the antiques site 1stdibs.com.
A Jezebel story speculates that Manafort’s jacket might be Gucci’s Ostrich Leather Biker Jacket, which sold for around $14,500 in 2012, writer Katie McDonough reports.
No wonder prosecutors are crying fowl.