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The “Zelig” of the Record Business: Who Is Raffles van Exel, the Man Accused of Selling the Whitney Houston Casket Photos to the National Enquirer?

Munk's Junk (Everything Else)
Raffles and Whitney: Misery Needs Company

Who is Raffles van Exel?

Here’s what I can tell you firsthand: during the years I was running in the heady L.A. music business circles with my boss, songwriter Denise Rich, Raffles van Exel was an inevitable and unavoidable reality, like the fog in June or traffic on the 405 at rush hour.  Raffles was one of those shady people who didn’t have a job or definable identity other than that he was just always there, Zelig-like, at every major party, every industry event, always promising access to whomever or whatever other kind of “magic” you sought.

Perhaps the ultimate groupie, Raffles would trade his access to the famous for money or gifts.  Though he was always extremely friendly with a big smile, any sane person could sense the bizarre pathology below his ingratiating demeanor.  The oddest part about Raffles van Excel (other than his name) is that in the over-the-top, fame-whore culture of L.A.celebrity, the strange mystery of his presence was singularly unspectacular and generally tolerated by the stars he attached himself to. Raffles was merely the most successful of a phalanx of similar enabler types that seemed to follow around stars who needed enabling. It was in its own creepy way, quite impressive.

While I can’t personally say that Raffles van Exel (only one of his names, by the way) was a con man or criminal, he did seem to have special powers — powers that naturally had a price tag attached and he wasn’t someone you could bring home to mother. Given this, the newswire reports that he allegedly sold the infamous and disturbing Whitney casket photo to the National Enquirer are not a revelation to me. If I were to find out that he might have helped certain famous people procure things they needed, again I would not be surprised.  He always had that Talented Mr. Ripley air of subterfuge about him.  One thing’s for certain, as long as there have been stars, there have been Raffles.

Here is a link to my original Whitney Houston piece:

Raffles and Michael Jackson


  1. ilikehoney
    April 12, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    there’s definitely something shady about this character. i don’t like one bit that he seems to be close to two of the world’s biggest entertainers and they are no longer here. he seems more like an ‘angel of death,’ or at the very least, of ‘despair.’

    • David Munk
      April 12, 2012 at 8:49 pm

      The world of entertainment is filled with hangers on and people who seem to have a pathological obsession with proximity to fame. This guy was extremely charming, but I have a feeling there is a lot that is about to come out about him. Thank you so much for checking out my blog! Please stay in touch!

  2. Jaay Tee
    April 28, 2012 at 12:10 am

    Maybe I’m just morbidly curious, but, isn’t there more to the Raffles/Whitney scenario that we will find out about one day?

  3. Lenard Shaddix
    September 9, 2012 at 9:10 am

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