As Strauss-Kahn succumbs to house arrest, Schwarzenegger deals with a possible criminal probe, and John Edwards faces indictment, The Daily Beast ranks which sex scandals hit the wallet hardest.
In the realm of politics and celebrity, the era of open secrets is over. Not only are private dalliances not publicly accepted, they’re a valuable commodity in media circles. Before the news of Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s alleged attack on a hotel housekeeper could be digested, the vague details of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s extramarital, lovechild-rearing affair became a national sensation. And, just as John Edwards’ name had all but disappeared from the tabloid’s lexicon, it was reported earlier this week that the former presidential hopeful is seeking a plea-deal to avoid a grand-jury indictment.
Gallery: 10 Most Expensive Sex Scandals
The price of fame is most striking in the aftermath of scandal. A damage control campaign—staffed by a legion of lawyers, press representatives and aides—is expensive, but so is losing a high-power job and any hope of professional redemption. In the last five years, sex scandals have ended the careers of at least two governors, six Congressional members and one CEO, while countless others remain in office despite allegations, admissions or lawsuits (ahem, Dov Charney). After all, the consequences of sex scandals aren’t fungible. Bill Clinton came out of his brush with scandal relatively unscathed, but it’s still unclear whether Tiger Woods’ career will ever return to the pre-Joslyn James glory days.
To put some perspective on sex-scandal math, The Daily Beast put a price tag on of some of the biggest sex scandals in recent history. To make the list, the accused had to have been married at the time of the alleged indiscretions. Our metric of comparison: lost wages. While we understand that some of the most gratuitous costs associated with illicit affairs include legal fees, out-of-court settlements and lifestyle changes (a bachelor pad, a house for a mistress and a lovechild, plane tickets to Argentina), we limited our calculations to the opportunity costs associated with a public fall from grace within one year from the time their alleged imprudence became public.
The obvious takeaway is that scandal always costs something. But on our scale, the range is enormous.