Until recently, Studio 54 co-founder Ian Schrager couldn’t bring himself to tell his tell his daughters that he’d been locked up for massive tax evasion while running the iconic club — and thought quickly when they nearly found out.
After a screening of new documentary “Studio 54,” about the legendary disco, Schrager said on Thursday, “One time it was on TV, and they said I had gone to jail.” He said to his daughters, Sophia and Ava, “Oh no, Yale. I went to Yale.” Shrager graduated from Syracuse.
He said he still hasn’t told his youngest son, Louis, 8. His daughters are both now in their 20s.
During the Q&A at his Public Hotel, Schrager also said if he had to do it all over again, that he wouldn’t have picked the infamous attorney Roy Cohn — who defended Schrager and his Studio 54 partner, Steve Rubell, in the criminal case that ended in January 1980 — to represent him.
Schrager called working with Cohn “a double-edged sword,” and said that he and Rubell were “ultimately hurt by it when we were about to get sentenced.”
“Roy had been co-counsel with the judge [in our case] on the Rosenberg trial,” Schrager said during a panel with “Studio 54” director Matt Tyrnauer and Tribeca Film Festival co-founder Jane Rosenthal. “So Roy put an item in the gossip columns saying Roy knew the judge, so we weren’t going to get a heavy sentence. Well, the judge showed Roy.”
Schrager served 14 months in prison, and paid a $20,000 fine.
At the disco-themed after-parties — one on the hotel’s roof, and the other in its basement nightclub, a Club Called Rhonda — were Schrager, Ansel Elgort, Bob Colacello, Maggie Q, Helena Christensen, Patricia Field, Timo Weiland, Pari Dust, Sandra Bernhard and the original Studio 54 doorman, Marc Benecke.
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