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Unapologetically rich, powerful and amoral — the life of notorious Madame Claude




A file picture taken on January 20, 1986 shows Fernande Grudet also known as Madame Claude (L) walking with her lawyer Bruno Simonetta at the Court of Cahors during her trial.
A file picture taken on January 20, 1986 shows Fernande Grudet also known as Madame Claude (L) walking with her lawyer Bruno Simonetta at the Court of Cahors during her trial.
GEORGES GOBET/AFP/Getty Images

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From the 1960s to 70s, Madame Claude ran the most successful escort service in the world.

But her “girls” serviced a specific clientele; the likes of John F. Kennedy, Prince Aly Khan and Elie de Rothschild, to name a few. Influential men who traveled to Paris to dine on expensive meals and stay in fancy hotels quickly began to add “Claude girls” on their list.

Madame Claude vigorously groomed her young women, even requiring plastic surgery and dental work before hire. In return, the girls were promised money and advantageous connections. They also helped gather information from heads of states and politicians that could be passed onto Madame Claude’s French government contacts.

Juicy details of her extraordinary life are now published in the rags-to-riches tale, “Madame Claude: Her Secret World of Pleasure, Privilege and Power.”

Best-selling author William Stadiem joins host Larry Mantle to talk about his latest book and the Madame who created an empire built on sex, secrets and extravagance.

Guest:

William Stadiem, writer for Vanity Fair and author of many bestselling books; his latest is “Madame Claude: Her Secret World of Pleasure, Privilege and Power” (St. Martin’s Press); he tweets @WilliamStadiem