Gwyneth Paltrow, Derek Blasberg and the Price of Bulls—

I had dinner with an old friend on Wednesday at L.A.’s Hotel Bel Air, the miraculous kind of catch-up where no one looks at their phone for hours. Afterwards on my way to the valet, I crossed the hotel’s stone bridge and admired the elegant swans that live in a tiny pond beneath.

By the time I was buckled into the car, my messages had exploded with conversation about Derek Blasberg – a professional best friend to celebrities who has exhibited remarkable staying power within elite circles around the world, keeping odd jobs in and around the entertainment and media business all the while.

More from Variety

He, as you almost surely have heard, was “revealed” by a media report as the notable visitor who fled Gwyneth Paltrow’s Amagansett home in the Hamptons weeks ago. Blasberg reportedly ghosted the Oscar winner’s house after an unseemly incident in her guest cottage, involving an intense bowel movement which wrecked the place. The Wednesday report naming Blasberg as the explosive guest was preceded by a blind item in the Daily Mail and, before that, a similar post on the Instagram gossip account Deux Moi.

Variety heard the same about Blasberg in mid-June, when the story was gleefully tearing its way through New York City. Over the years Blasberg has been a correspondent for Vogue, the former head of YouTube’s fashion vertical and a onetime CNN correspondent who, in a delicious twist of irony, wrote a book on social graces titled “Classy.”

Like the regal creatures in the Hotel Bel Air lagoon, Paltrow is Hollywood’s preeminent swan. A veteran who sits at the intersection of art, entrepreneurship, fashion, show business and social spheres on both coasts. To put it bluntly: if it was Blasberg in the guest house at Gwyneth’s, my God, did he shit the wrong bed.

The story has had insane legs in Hollywood circles for several reasons. Call it a slow news cycle thanks to Independence Day, or a welcome distraction from that state of American politics. There’s also a devilish kind of excitement in hearing about a base act of humanity in a world that is so privileged, curated and unattainable. But the biggest message in all the muck is a sense of Biblical justice for Blasberg, a figure whose profile some observers think is smoke and mirrors in a town that demands proof of value.

Blasberg’s ability to magnetize the rich and beautiful have confounded for years, all played out to his 1.6 million Instagram followers. He’s been tucked in with monogrammed pajamas by Jessica Seinfeld, sat for DIY facials at Barry Diller’s mansion and snapped Anne Hathaway playing with his children in the nursery. And, of course, he’s proven to be an uber-Zelig: a face that appears at global runway shows, the annual Met Gala and the hardest-to-crack Oscar parties without many knowing him or his relevance to those spaces.

The blind item in the Daily Mail about Paltrow’s incontinent guest called the culprit an “A-lister” (and, for what it’s worth, blamed the trouble on irritable bowels as a side effect of Ozempic. This reporter heard the same, except that it was mixing the diabetes drug with NyQuil that led to the destruction). In a subsequent story naming Blasberg, he’d been downgraded to “socialite and celebrity hanger-on.”

One Hollywood dealmaker wondered, “How has he created this cult of personality while offering virtually nothing to the general public?”

Paltrow herself had reservations about letting him in.

“When I first met him, I was a little dubious. I was like, ‘Are you a professional best friend of celebrities? And why are you everywhere at once? What’s your deal?’” she told The Cut in 2016. “After ten seconds, I fell completely in love with him.”

Several reports said the story leaked as a warning to other famous friends of Blasberg – including the Seinfelds and Oprah Winfrey — a cautionary tale about what high thread count sheets and pristine ceilings might suffer when you let in those lower on the totem pole. Others are empathetic, and regret that Blasberg has to suffer the headlines. The Paltrow guest house incident is already listed in Blasberg’s biography on his Wikipedia page.

Blasberg and his representatives did not respond to a requests for comment on this story. It’s also unclear what moves he’s got left. The U.S. Open, Labor Day in the Hamptons and Montecito and the start of fall film festival season may be treacherous territory for someone who lives and dies in polite society (though we hear he’s currently on a mogul’s boat for July 4).

The designer Tom Ford once referred to Blasberg as the new Truman Capote. Someone who also learned the hard way the price of dumping on a swan.

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.