The Shooting Stars
by Robin Abcarian
Hunched behind the wheel of his shiny new Porsche Cayenne, Francois Navarre drives slowly, watchfully, along Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood. Navarre, a 44-year-old Frenchman, and his American wife, Brandy, own one of the city's major paparazzi agencies, X17 Inc. Former journalists, they now live in one of the city's most desirable enclaves, own several homes and prefer to travel by private jet. Their business acumen has allowed them to share the very lifestyle of the celebrities they chase, sometimes around their own neighborhood.
(snipped for Keanu.)
For years every Sunday night, he would sit in the parking lot of the Bank of America near the corner of San Vicente and 26th Street in Santa Monica, haggling. He'd make snap decisions while reviewing pictures on the screens of digital cameras. "Twenty guys were coming and selling me pictures," he says. "I was like, 'OK, I will buy that for $1,500, I will buy that for $10,000.' Craziness. You cannot even imagine." He never paid in cash, he says, only with checks. Sometimes his on-the-fly pricing strategy backfired. One set of Keanu Reeves pictures cost him $10,000 and he never sold a single frame. But usually not: "I was buying stuff for $3,000 and selling it for $30,000."