An Italian man who claimed to be actor George Clooney while fraudulently soliciting funds for a clothing company has been arrested in Thailand after several years on the run.
According to The Independent, 58-year-old Francesco Galdeli had been convicted in 2010 of posing as Clooney while taking money from investors. At the time of the trial, the real Clooney appeared in court and testified against his imitator. Galdeli was arrested and convicted in his home country but then fled to Thailand, where he had been living for around seven years.
Galdeli’s 45-year-old wife, Vanja Goffi, was also arrested. Per Sky News, the couple was known as “The Italian Bonnie and Clyde.”
The bogus clothing brand was called “GC Exclusive by George Clooney.”
Per an E! Online story from the time of the trial nine years ago, Clooney also sued Galdeli and two alleged co-conspirators for $3.88 million for the illegal use of his name. Clooney testified that his signatures on documents used by the “clothing company” were not genuine and, in fact, had been copied from autographs he signed over the years, which can easily be found on the internet.
Clooney also referenced doctored photos of himself with Goffi, Galdeli’s wife, which had found their way into tabloids, and mocked some of the photos of his head that had appeared on other people’s bodies in photos, stating that it put him in outfits that he would never wear in real life.
“This is the first time I’ve seen him,” Clooney reportedly said on the stand of his imitator. “So I’d like to say hello, nice to meet you…You’ve done a good job—very good. You should be proud of yourself.”
Thai police say they have arrested an Italian man wanted in his home country after fleeing a jail sentence for fraudulently using the name of actor George Clooney to lure people into investing in a bogus clothing company. https://t.co/XS0zl9Jy4c— The Associated Press (@AP) June 17, 2019
Clooney, who famously owns a villa in Lake Como, spends a great deal of time in Italy, even when his court testimony is not required.
Per Breakingnews.ie, the initial reporting about the fake Exclusive by GC line came in 2008, when news reports said that a debut show was planned for the “clothing range” in Milan. Clooney, who had at first believed the reports were an April Fools’ Day joke, said at the time that “this is a hoax. I have no connection whatsoever with any clothing line bearing my name.”
Judging by the photos released after his arrest, the imitator does not bear much of a physical resemblance to the genuine George Clooney, although the two men, at 58-years-old, are both the same age.