Hiding behind a massive mop of curly blond hair, Shaggy has been a fixture on the party circuit for more than a decade. The guy is rarely officially invited, with more than one press outlet labeling him the “world’s most famous party crasher,” a title he seems to wear with pride. One thing is for sure, when you saw Shaggy, he was there for a good time. Society publicist R. Couri Hay recalled one of the many, many interactions he had with the blond bombard: “Oh God, he was getting so bold. I remember one time he rolled up to a party, surely not invited, with three girls on his arm and a huge grin on his face, his hair a total mess.”
It would seem however, that a non-invited Shaggy has become the exception, not the rule. He’s been around for so long now that people look to him as something of a party barometer, and as writer George Gurley would describe; a good omen. “Shaggy slipped into my book launch party without us noticing, and all of a sudden the PR girl we had working the event ran over and picked him out of the crowd in disgust: ‘Do you want us to throw him out? He clearly wasn’t invited.’ I immediately recognized who it was, and informed the girl: ‘Shaggy can stay—if he’s crashing my book party, it’s somewhat of an honor!’” Gurley’s tale of pseudo-admiration for Shaggy is not unique; by all accounts our feather-haired friend is actually a fun party guest, exceptionally gracious, quick with a joke, even going so far as to be humble when being asked to vacate the premises.
SCENE wanted to like Shaggy as the somewhat lesser of two evils that he and De Silva represent, but the deeper we dug into the Internet gossip grave, the more skeletons we found. Shaggy, it would seem, has a thing for food: “He was devouring gnocchi with truffles at such a rate that the waiters could not keep up with him,” said a witness at the opening of La Masseria. “If Shaggy was at the party, he was there to eat. I remember catching him gorging himself at a buffet, practically lining his pockets with food, it was incredible how much this guy would try to eat in one sitting,” remembered Hay, who’d reminded The New York Times years ago: “There’s a very famous saying: Put out a lamb chop and they’ll all come.”
Gastronomic grievances aside, it’s not hard to wonder why the Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center would have preferred Shaggy to Priyantha De Silva as designated crasher on the evening of November 11, 2010. The event was slated to be a grand fundraiser to aid the rehabilitation programs for gravely ill children throughout the hospital network. The location was set at the luxurious Harold Pratt House at 68th Street and Park Avenue. The theme: Going Gatsby.
November 10th was a gusty day, high 40’s—stay-inside weather.
One could almost picture a slovenly De Silva in a dark apartment, brooding over an ancient laptop, party photographer Patrick McMullan‘s website flickering across his screen. He looks down, dozens of crumpled business cards across the table, tiny trophies of evenings past. Back to the computer he digs through the online repository of pomp and circumstance, scouting potential guests, quickly scrawling out talking points, sketching together a spider web of social networks he’s all too eager to infiltrate.
He pauses to take a swig from a flask of bargain basement vodka; closing his eyes he briefly recalls a seminal Nick Carraway quote that he reads as directive: “I believe that on the first night I went to Gatsby’s house I was one of the few guests who had actually been invited. People were not invited—they went there.” He reaches into his pocket, running his fingers over the surreptitiously obtained Bank of America debit card, exhaling deeply. On November 11th, Priyantha De Silva would not be invited to the Harold Pratt House, but he would go there.
After a late lunch, Priyantha would return home to prepare for the evening. He would feverishly through his closet before settling on a red velvet smoking jacket. Reaching for a nearby lint roller he begins his ritual, pulse quickening with every caress of the sticky wand. Donning his velveteen casing he cracks open his laptop, remembering to scout the silent auction items online before heading out the door—and there it was: the leather Prada bag that was overheard to be destined for one of his many, many, young girlfriends. The very same leather Prada bag that would land De Silva behind bars, where he will remain for up to three years.
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