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Raffle Turns Into Hassle for Agent

ICM employee says she won't return $15,000 jewelry given away at Osbournes' party.

January 18, 2003|Robert W. Welkos | Times Staff Writer

Renee Tab says she is not a crook.

The junior literary agent who won an expensive diamond-and-sapphire necklace and earrings at Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne's New Year's Eve bash, only to find herself accused of being a gate-crashing thief, says it's time to set the record straight.

"I didn't steal it," Tab said in an interview Friday with The Times, her first since becoming embroiled in the messy dispute. "Why would I?"

But the 26-year-old Tab, who works for International Creative Management in Beverly Hills, also made it clear she has no plans to return the gems.

"I'm going to donate it to charity," Tab said. "Most likely a cancer charity. I lost an aunt last year to colon cancer. Having this necklace is like holding on to a piece of hate now."

It wasn't immediately clear whether this would mollify Sharon Osbourne, matriarch of MTV's series "The Osbournes," who herself is being treated for colon cancer. Orin Snyder, an attorney for the Osbournes, would say only that "this matter remains under investigation by us, and for this reason we don't believe it is appropriate to comment at this time."

Meanwhile, powerhouse ICM has joined the fray, suggesting that the Osbournes publicly muddied the firm's name while taking swipes at Tab.

ICM's general counsel, Rick Levy, said that for now the firm has decided to negotiate rather than litigate. It is seeking "an amicable arrangement with the Osbournes that sets the record straight that Ms. Tab and ICM are completely innocent," he said.

As Tab tells it, the chain of events that led to her presence at the party started on Thanksgiving Day in Malibu. She went to a friend's small holiday party, which was attended by Jack Osbourne, son of Ozzy and Sharon.

Weeks later, Tab's sister told her that they had been invited by Jack, through a mutual friend named Jose, to the New Year's Eve bash at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

By accounts of people in attendance, the New Year's party -- in honor of Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne renewing their wedding vows and to celebrate Sharon Osbourne's 50th birthday -- was lavish.

Guests said they were handed fake credit cards to shop in a mini-version of Rodeo Drive, where they could ogle chocolates at Godiva or peruse the aisles of a scaled-down Saks. There also were boys in knickers handing out fake newspapers, a snow-making machine and a performance by the Village People.

Tab said she and her friends arrived around 10 p.m., had their hands stamped and headed inside. At some point while talking to security, Tab and her group indicated that they should have been on the list as a guest of Jose.

The group, which consisted of her sister and others, then proceeded into a faux casino, where they were handed chips and invited to gamble. The blackjack dealer told Tab to exchange her winnings for raffle tickets, which she did.

What she didn't expect, Tab said, was that she would win such a grand prize.

"I was really, really excited," she said, speaking by phone from the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. "I went on stage. They presented me with jewelry and took my picture. Everybody came and congratulated me."

Tab said she ran into Aimee Osbourne, the couple's eldest daughter, who told her the necklace and earrings were designed by Jade Jagger, rocker Mick Jagger's daughter. The $15,000 jewelry had been donated by British boutique Asprey.

The next day, Tab said, she learned that Sharon Osbourne wanted the jewelry back.

Tab said she spoke to Osbourne by phone and explained how she ended up with the jewelry.

"I was so shocked and I told her I was invited to the party, I didn't steal the jewels, and I wouldn't do anything like that," Tab said. "I said I was so fortunate to have won it, but I tried to explain how I had won it."

Tab informed Osbourne that she was about to leave for New York and that she needed time to decide what to do next.

By the time she returned, a news release had gone out with the headline: "ICM Agent Steals Diamond Necklace from Osbournes at New Year's Eve Party." The Osbournes also had filed a complaint with the Beverly Hills Police Department.

With that, the lawyers took over and have been trying to negotiate a resolution. By late Friday, there were no breakthroughs.

The Beverly Hills Police Department, meanwhile, has dropped its probe.

"We determined it was civil in nature, and we are not proceeding with a criminal investigation," said Lt. Gary Gilmond, a department spokesman.

Tab has worked for ICM for about three years, the last five months as an agent representing screenwriters and directors.

However, her recent moment in the Hollywood limelight has left her reeling: "Being called an alleged thief is not a positive thing in anybody's eyes.... It's just not who I am."

She said the jewelry is in a safe.

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