Vitaliy Grechin pictured in custody in Dubai
The American playboy in custody over a ‘spur of the moment’ picture of naked Ukrainian woman on a balcony in Dubai has claimed it was ‘art’ and denies telling ‘his friends’ to take off their clothes.
Vitaliy Grechin, 41, remains incarcerated in Dubai where he has tested positive for Covid-19.
Meanwhile the women in the shoot, from Ukraine, have all been released from ‘jail hell’ and deported in disgrace with a five year ban on returning to the United Arab Emirates.
In his first interview from a Dubai coronavirus detention facility, Grechin apologised for his ‘mistake’ over the so-called ‘Butt Squad’ photo but denied any intention to cause offence.
He claimed the photo, which saw Ukrainian models pose naked in front of Dubai’s skyscrapers, was ‘art’ and in any other country the picture would be considered ‘normal’.
Grechin claimed the photo, which saw Ukrainian models pose naked in front of Dubai’s skyscrapers, was ‘art’ and in any other country the picture would be considered ‘normal’.
Grechin also claimed the women were his ‘friends’ and they were just on holiday together.
He revealed he has now faced bills of hundreds of thousands of pounds in Dubai for securing the release of the dozen women who were held after posing in the naked photoshoot. He has also spent money on his own – he hopes – imminent freedom.
Grechin insisted the stunt was not to advertise sexual services or make pornography.
Asked if he apologised for offence caused in the Muslim city, Grechin said: ‘Of course I do. And we all do.
‘The girls have apologised in interviews (since their release). For me, it’s also very unpleasant.’
He continued: ‘When people make a mistake and apologise for it, it has to be taken as that.
‘Clearly, there was no intent to offend anybody. Clearly, they were not climbing a mosque naked.’
He revealed he has now faced bills of hundreds of thousands of pounds in Dubai for securing the release of the dozen women who were held after posing in the naked photoshoot
Grechin has been pictured with a string of famous names including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, George Clooney, Sylvester Stallone, and Viktor Yanukovych junior, late son of the former Ukrainian president.
It was ‘a spur of the moment decision’ to take the picture against the background of Dubai’s skyscrapers, he said.
Gretchen added that the women were ‘not instructed’ by him to pose nude.
‘It happened within a minute. One girl said ‘I’m going to take a picture’, and then it was “Me too”, “Me too”, “Me too”,’ he said.
‘It was a passionate decision to take a photo which wouldn’t show their private parts.
‘It’s not porn. Everywhere else in the world it would be considered normal. In magazines it would be considered art… it was a unique shot.’
He claimed he had paid for around 20 women – all ‘friends’ – to travel to Dubai on an all-expenses paid fun trip to escape lockdown, at a total cost of around $10,000.
He claimed he had paid for around 20 women – all ‘friends’ – to travel to Dubai on an all-expenses paid fun trip to escape lockdown, at a total cost of around $10,000
The property tycoon said: ‘I choose to surround myself with the people I feel comfortable with. Everybody I know personally.
‘It’s the equivalent of going out to a club or for dinner. There was no escorting, selling, buying, none of that.’
They were a ‘close group of friends’, he added.
Hitting back at rumours about the women, he insisted: ‘They are not models, escorts or anything else.’
While he had also flown in photographer Alexander Ten from Moscow, Grechin denied ordering the naked balcony picture or choreographing it.
‘We were in my friend’s swimming pool and at the end of the day the girls had to change,’ he explained.
‘There was nowhere else except his apartment. We went to change.
‘The girls went to the apartment and they went on to the balcony to take a photo with a view.
‘The neighbour took a video of it and it went viral.
‘There seems a deduction that the girls are models and prostitutes but they are none of these things. ‘
Vitaliy Grechin poses with Barak Obama in 2011
Grechin was born in Soviet Ukraine and raised in the US where he became a donor to President Barack Obama, and he returned to live and work in Kyiv where he has a wife and son.
Speaking about the naked shoot, Grechin said: ‘I should never probably have allowed something like this.
‘The girls had the mindset that they were on private property behind closed doors.
‘Even if they went on the balcony for 15 seconds it was still something enclosed.
‘There was no intent to create or distribute anything like this. It was spur of the moment.
‘Of course, I regret it. I lost a month of my life.’
He claimed that the women in the shoot ‘spent ten days in jail, with no food or decent water, no hygiene supplies, no sheets, and with a metal bunk to sleep on.
‘I feel responsible for this. And you can’t imagine the lawyer fees I have to pay.’
They run well into six figures, he said. ‘It makes me want to cry,’
The Kiev-based US passport holder could face one a half years in jail, said the outlet citing its own sources
Realising that police were getting involved, the photographer Alexander Ten and several women rushed to the airport and flew out to Russia.
He said the Dubai authorities held those who remained on suspicion of involvement in prostitution and pornography.
But these accusations had now been dropped against them all, he said.
‘There was one case where everyone’s name was listed. But this did not go forward because there was no evidence,’ he said.
He had been told by the authorities to ‘accept my sin’ over the balcony picture, but had not done so, Grechin said.
‘Did I take the picture? No. Was I in the picture? No. Was I on the balcony? No. Did I make them go outside? No. Did I post the video? No.’
He expected to be allowed home because there was no evidence of pornography or prostitution, he said.
Pictured: Scantily clad models pose for a photoshoot with Vitaliy Grechin
Grechin had been moved from jail to a prison hospital for Covid-19 sufferers but he is now in custody in a coronavirus holding facility since he showed no symptoms.
‘They searched our phones, apartments, they took drug tests, we were clean,’ he said.
‘I have a paper saying that Dubai does not have anything against me since 15 April’, he said. ‘I was supposed to go home on the 22nd. But then I caught Covid in jail.
‘I have a paper from the prosecutor saying we have no evidence that you did anything wrong.
‘But I am still in custody and cannot leave the room I am in.’
He hopes to leave as soon as he has a negative Covid test.
He admitted there was another picture inside his Russian friend Alexei Kontsov’s apartment showing Grechin surrounded by 20 naked women as he played the piano.
But this image had been behind closed doors and not in the view of anyone else, he said.
Grechin admitted there was another picture inside his Russian friend Alexei Kontsov’s (pictured on board flight to Moscow) apartment showing Grechin surrounded by 20 naked women as he played the piano
Grechin accused Dubai of being a ‘hypocritical society’ over sex.
‘Dubai has the highest number of sex workers probably in the Middle East,’ he said.
‘Every single person I know is high on drugs, and every sheik brings 50 or 60 girls a week from all over the world.
‘I try and stay away from all this.’
He enjoyed travelling with friends and had been on previous trips with a large group of women to Mexico, the Carpathian Mountains, and elsewhere, he said.
This was how he chose to live and relax, even if it was unconventional, he said.
He knew all the women and some lived with him in Kyiv, he said.
They faced ‘no stipulations, conditions nor obligations’ in accepting his largesse, he insisted before outlining his view that women in eastern Europe were ‘more liberal’ and ‘feminine’ than in America.
‘Girls are much more open, and liberal, and expressive – there are no ‘Me Too’ movements,’ he claimed.
As well as Obama, Grechin has been pictured with Hillary Clinton, George Clooney, and Sylvester Stallone.
Among the group with him in Dubai was Vogue model Evgenia Taran, 21, who said: ‘I made a lot of conclusions, realised my mistakes, and to some extent (I am) grateful for what happened.’
Another, trained lawyer Yana Graboshchuk, 27, complained they had been treated like ‘animals’ in jail.
Grechin said the legal and jail systems in Dubai were ‘borderline barbaric’.
His friend Kontsov, 33, returned to Russia last week as did participant Anastasia Fursova, 25.