|Author||Lady Colin Campbell|
|Publisher||Arcadia Books Ltd (2005)
Dynasty Press (2008)
Empress Bianca, the first novel by Lady Colin Campbell, was initially published in June 2005. One month later, Arcadia Books, the British publisher, withdrew the book and pulped all unsold copies in reaction to a legal threat initiated on behalf of Lily Safra under her interpretation that the book was a defamatory roman à clef. After some changes the book was republished in the United States in 2008 by Dynasty Press.
Bianca Barrett, the protagonist and daughter of a Welsh Surveyor and his Palestinian wife, becomes an "ambitious and mercenary" social climber and double murderess. Charming and well-educated, Bianca marries four times and advances in wealth and social influence.
With Bernardo, her first husband, Bianca has three children; they lose their son in a car crash. After a divorce, she marries the rich Fredie whose family owns the Piedraplata commercial empire. Before it comes to a divorce, the second husband is shot and killed by a hitman who makes it look like a suicide. The killing is arranged by her lover, Phillipe Mahfud, and Bianca becomes the financial beneficiary.
After a brief marriage to husband number three – she had married him only to make Mahfud jealous-, she lastly marries Mahfud, a rich Iraqi businessman and banker. When their relationship sours, the banker dies with his nurse in a mysterious fire in his apartment in the tax haven of Andorra. Bianca's lawyers pay off the police and investigators, and the only justice that remains is in the court of public opinion.
Pulping of first edition
In July 2005, Lily Safra claimed that her life had been "stolen" by the book and had her lawyer, Anthony Julius, demand that the publisher should recall the book and destroy unsold copies. Julius' letter indicated that Safra "regarded the book as defamatory". As English defamation law puts the burden of proof on the defendant, Arcadia Books complied indicating that they were too small a company to fight the looming legal battle. The author, however, denied that she had used Safra's life as a template and claimed that it was based on characters of her own family, including her cousin Blanche, a double murderess. A countersuit ensued with Lady Campbell demanding compensation for lost income. She did not prevail.
A rewritten, American edition of the novel was published in 2008 after the 17 specific issues that had been seen as pointing to Safra were addressed. With changes described as minor, but legally important – for instance, Barret now grows up in Mexico (not South America), her mother is Palestinian (not Jewish), and her last husband Iraqi (not Lebanese) – this edition still preserved story, plot, incidents, and dialogue elements.
- Court proceedings Campbell vs Safra, December 4, 2006
- Barnes, Anthony; Pyke, Nicholas (24 July 2005). "Pulp fiction: the millionaire socialite, the English Lady and a book too far.". The Independent. Retrieved 12 April 2011.
- Isabel Vincent. Golden Lily. HarperCollinsPublishers, 2010. pp. 267f. ISBN 978-0-06-113393-0.
- Catherine Deveney (13 September 2009). "Interview: Lady Colin Campbell – All about my mother.". Scotsman.com. Retrieved 12 April 2011.
- Robert Janjigian (19 December 2008). "Jana Kohl, Lady Colin Campbell talk at Palm Beach author breakfast.". Palm Beach Daily News. Archived from the original on 9 March 2012. Retrieved 12 April 2011.
- Dynasty Press (September 2008). "Press release by Dynasty Press on the publication of Empress Bianca. US launch September 2008 in response to law suit from Brazilian born billionaire widow Lily Safra". Retrieved 12 April 2011.