Paris Hilton is just a modest girl with a horrible case of bad luck.
So goes a federal lawsuit she filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, seeking to shut down the parisexposed.com Website and recoup the personal possessions—the very personal possessions—the owners are flogging online.
As of Tuesday morning, the nonsubscription areas of Paris Exposed remained accessible. However, several users who forked over the $39.97 membership fee report they have been unable to log in and view the bulk of the material.
Since launching Jan. 23, the site has offered looky-loos the chance to rifle through Hilton's diary entries, view her passport, check out phone numbers and email addresses for her A-list pals, peruse her medical records and credit card receipts, flip though personal photos of the heiress in various states of undress alongside Girls Gone Wild creator Joe Francis and model Jason Shaw (Hilton's former fiancé) and, of course, see more selections from her salacious videotape library.
Within the past week, many clips and images from the site, which Hilton's lawsuit called "one of the single most egregious and reprehensible invasions of privacy ever committed against an individual," have proliferated online via blogs and video-sharing sites.
Per a statement on Paris Exposed, the collection was purchased for $2,775 in November 2005 in a public auction after the heiress failed to pay a $208 monthly fee for the storage facility where her belongings were being kept.
At the time, Hilton's rep, Elliot Mintz, argued to no avail that the items were "illegally seized" due to a "bureaucratic foul-up" and that a moving company, not the 25-year-old tabloid fixture, was supposed to pay the fee.
In her lawsuit, Hilton claims that Nabil and Nabila Haniss snapped up her wares at auction and eventually sold them to Badria Persa, the creator of the offending site. The deal, worth a reported $10 million, was brokered by so-called sultan of smut David Hans Schmidt, who is not named in the complaint.
Hilton also claimed her representatives attempted to buy back her belongings for "generous" sums "over and above" what the Hanisses originally paid, though in her suit claims that each of her offers were rejected.
Attempts to reach the three defendants were unsuccessful. The Culver City-based Hanisses have an unlisted phone number and Persa has not responded to emails sent to him via the Paris Exposed site.
Hilton's suit says that she opened the 6,000-square-foot storage unit in 2004, shortly after she and sister Nicky (whose marriage certificate from her short-lived union to Todd Meister is available for viewing on the site) moved out of their L.A.-area home following a burglary.
To minimize interest in the sensitive materials contained in the unit, the storage container was placed in the name of a moving company. Hilton's accountants set up a deal in which they would write monthly checks to the movers, who would then hand off the rent to the storage facility.
When the checks failed to make the final trip between moving company and storage facility, Hilton's belongings were auctioned off.
"I was appalled to learn that people are exploiting my and my sister's private personal belongings for commercial gain," she says in an affidavit included in the court filing, adding that she worries the treasure trove of personal information could be used for identity theft "or even worse, to harass or stalk me."
The Simple Life star says that she filed last week to copyright the written material viewable at Paris Exposed. Her suit claims copyright infringement, invasion of privacy and violation of her right to publicity.
She's also seeking a temporary restraining order prohibiting the site from using her name, as well as a more permanent injunction.
Hilton has a litigious streak when it comes to having her unauthorized footage screened online.
In 2003, she filed an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit to halt the sale and distribution of footage of her with ex-boyfriend Rick Salomon. In the end, she dropped all legal action and accepted a percentage of the profits, purportedly worth $400,000, which she had earmarked for charity.
This time around, she's seeking an unspecified amount in damages, to be determined at a later date, her possessions to be returned and the site to be terminated: in other words, Paris Unexposed.