Madonna’s favourite London nightclub Aura is at the centre of a riddle over whether or not it paid $65,000 for the star to visit the exclusive venue.
Sources in the nightclub industry have told us that members of the singer’s entourage were paid handfuls of cash in return for her attendance.
It is believed that Madonna is not aware of the transactions and last night a friend of the singer said she will ‘not be pleased’ if her entourage are cashing in on her by receiving ‘appearance’ fees.
It is understood that members of her team have received money when the star has been at the fashionable Central London nightclub, at the top of St James’s Street in Mayfair.
It is a popular venue for Madonna. Last year the 52-year-old put the club on the map by visiting three times, and earlier this month she was back again with her new boyfriend Brahim Zaibas at her favourite table and receiving VIP treatment.
Each visit has been accompanied by generous press coverage in national newspapers and gossip columns and in all the pieces Aura has been heavily mentioned.
Madonna first visited the club in May last year when she was looked after by the nightclub’s director Joseph Ryan.
According to one source, one of her entourage received an envelope containing around $25,000 for bringing the singer to the club. Madonna returned to the club on July 23 and October 21 and was most recently photographed at the venue on January 6.
A close source said, “It was agreed that if he brought Madonna down he would be paid £10,000.
‘Madonna turned up on her own the first time she came and was seated at a VIP table and given a complimentary bottle of Belvedere vodka.
Her head dancer Shay Normann had arranged for a team of dancers to come down and entertain her. Madonna loves to watch dancers and Mr Normann bought about 15 of her favourite people down to the club.
Mr Normann has since confirmed members of Madonna’s entourage had received a sum of money from Aura, but claimed it was for the dancers who entertained Madonna at the club.
‘The club gave money for the dancers. I took them down to Aura, and we all did a freestyle performance for Madonna.
‘She loves us dancing. We are there for her to enjoy,’ he said. ‘The performers are paid. There are about 25 of them and I pay them £150 each. It’s not from my pocket, the club pay them.’
Last night one senior member of staff at Aura who wished to remain anonymous was keen to stress that it had not paid any form of ‘appearance fee’ and insisted that any money that had been paid was to cover the cost of the dancers’ accommodation and travel.
The club’s director Joseph Ryan declined to comment.
A spokesman for Madonna said, ‘I’m sure Madonna is not aware that these cash payments happen.’
It is apparently not the first time members of Madonna’s entourage have received cash payments for taking the singer to a nightclub.
In April last year Madonna visited London’s West End nightclub Runway off the Tottenham Court Road with her then boyfriend Jesus Luz.
Once again a cash payment of £10,000 was made to a member of her team, and some of the notes were taken from the till at the bar.
In the nightclub industry it is not unusual for stars to be paid in return for attending nightclubs.
Singer Puff Daddy reportedly received £30,000 in one night for attending three London clubs, Runway, Amika and Jet Black.
by Wallace McTavish