‘I WON’T APOLOGISE’
I organised the Butt Squad and slept with two of the girls… but not at the same time
- 29 Apr 2021, 20:08
TEETERING on a skyscraper balcony in broad daylight, 17 nubile, naked models preened for the camera.
The eye-catching image, which spread like wildfire on social media, would have stopped traffic in anything-goes Amsterdam.
In the conservative emirate of Dubai, it led to arrests of the women for “public debauchery”. Another snap from the Dubai apartment that day showed a balding, bespectacled, middle-aged man playing piano surrounded by 21 stark-naked women. Stocky and unshaven, US businessman Vitaliy Grechin, 41, is not everyone’s idea of an international playboy. But he is the man of mystery — today revealed by The Sun — who masterminded the stunt that shocked and titillated the world. Vitaliy has deep pockets, picking up the tab for the $13,500 (£9,700) all-expenses-paid trip for his so-called “Butt Squad”. But it was all in a day’s fun for him. He says: “I live the way 90 per cent of heterosexual males on this planet would like to live but don’t. And I don’t want to apologise for it.” The US citizen was held by the Dubai authorities after the photos went viral earlier this month. Shortly afterwards, images emerged of Vitaliy posing with former US President Barack Obama and Hollywood stars George Clooney and Sylvester Stallone.
His Facebook page is plastered with pictures of him in exotic locations with glamorous young women. Adding further intrigue, he claims he met Obama at the White House, served with US Army Intelligence and donated to the Democratic Party. He invites me to view a Russian social media page featuring pictures of him with Gwyneth Paltrow and Tom Hanks. He says: “I’m much more than a few naked girls on a balcony.” Today Vitaliy languishes in Dubai — long after his female associates were deported. Speaking to me via mobile phone, he reveals he tested positive for Covid while being held for around 20 days behind bars, before he too was released without charge. Although showing no symptoms, he says he is locked away in a ten-day enforced quarantine before hopefully leaving Dubai next week. Saddled with a six-figure legal bill to sort out the mess, he says of the isolation facility: “It’s not a prison but I can’t leave the room and everything I do is monitored.” Vitaliy insists his Butt Squad are just “friends” and not involved in prostitution — nor was the balcony pose a publicity stunt or promotion of any sort.
The father of one told me: “What the girls did is wrong, based on the laws of Dubai. But we are talking about a bunch of very young, excited, open-minded, reg- ular girls who have nothing to do with escorting, modelling or anything else. “In Dubai, everything is on camera. If we had other guys coming over, if these girls were prostituting, it would all show up.” He admits sleeping with two of the Butt Squad, explaining: “I’ve had sexual relations with two of these girls. And not at the same time. We’re normal people.” The now-famous pictures made their splash on social media late on April 3. What happens in Dubai normally stays in Dubai — as long as it is behind closed doors. Though conservative on the surface, the Gulf playground is also a city of sleaze where an estimated 30,000 call girls and escorts ply their trade.
The sharing of pornographic material is punishable with prison time and hefty fines under local laws, which are based on Islamic or Sharia law. Little wonder, then, that 17 naked women lined up in plain sight on the penthouse balcony provoked arrests. One of them, 27-year-old lawyer Yana Graboshchuk, said the authorities clamped down hard on them and treated them like “animals” behind bars. Earlier, her family said they thought she had gone on holiday to Dubai and were “shocked” when they saw the pictures.
Vitaliy, who is teetotal, said of the Butt Squad: “To understand the mentality of these women you have to understand the culture they come from. It’s a much more open society. “They look at Instagram and Playboy magazine and feel sometimes it’s OK if you’re beautiful to show the outline of your figure. “That doesn’t mean they want to participate in a filmed orgy or porn. There is a clear difference in our culture between something that is sexual and something that is aesthetically pleasing and beautiful.”
Vitaliy paid for the women and Russian photographer Alexander Ten to go on the Dubai jaunt. He says he throws similar trips to exotic destinations each month. The group spent that day at a swimming pool and a restaurant before going to Russian IT boss Alexei Kontsov’s penthouse in the upmarket Marina district. After stripping off their swimwear, Vitaliy says, some of the women went on to the balcony to take a photo with the dramatic view. “It wasn’t planned or premeditated,” he insists. “No one was forced to do anything. I organised the trip but not the shoot because there was no shoot. “It wasn’t intended to be a publicity stunt. We didn’t have anything to promote.”
Vitaliy says an unknown neighbour in a block overlooking Kontsov’s flat then filmed the women and uploaded the images to social media. He says: “We have no idea who filmed it or why. They’re the ones producing the pornography and distributing it, not us.” Inside the flat, the now-famous image of the Butt Squad’s bare bottoms was taken and another of the women as Vitaliy played piano. He reveals: “I was playing Beethoven and Mozart, classical piano. It’s not an explicit photo.” The images were shared on the party’s private WhatsApp group before an unknown person leaked them to social media. These photos went viral too, provoking the ire of the Dubai authorities. Vitaliy adds: “They were private photos of a private group of friends. They weren’t meant to be public.”
Squad member Nataliya Chuprina, 23, called the balcony photo a “souvenir”, a “keepsake for ourselves”. The following day, half the party, including photographer Ten, flew back to Eastern Europe. Vitaliy and Kontsov were held on suspicion of being involved in prostitution and pornography. A dozen of the women were detained the next day. All faced hefty fines or even jail. But prosecutors instead deported the women, banning them from Dubai for five years. Kontsov too was later deported. Vitaliy adds: “The girls showed a lack of responsibility. They’re sorry for what they have done. They’ve gone through hell. But there was no ill intent.” Born in Kiev, Ukraine, Vitaliy moved to the US aged ten, the only child of doctor Daniel and accountant Raisa. They settled in a suburb of Detroit, what Vitaliy calls “a Jewish immigrant family . . . with $1,000 in our pockets”.
He says he joined the US Army and did intelligence work in the wake of 9/11, helping translate Soviet-made weapons manuals used by the Taliban in Afghanistan. American authorities confirmed to The Sun that Vitaliy was a member of the US Army Reserve, serving as translator/interpreter from 1998 to 2005, holding the rank of “specialist” as his service ended. He says: “I joined the US Army out of patriotic feelings. It also helped me pay my way through college.” In 2008, he says, he brokered a property deal in Kiev for an investment group which earned him “a decent bonus”. He then founded a Ukrainian finance company and sold three-quarters of it to Finstar Financial Group, a private equity firm owned by Russian billionaire Oleg Boyko. That made Vitaliy a rich man. He tells me: “On that deal alone I made a few million dollars.”
They were private photos of a private group of friends. They weren’t meant to be public.Vitaliy Grechin. Records of America’s Federal Election Commission seen by The Sun show Vitaliy donated more than £100,000 to the Democratic Party and Obama’s campaign funds. He made 33 separate donations between 2008 and 2012 and has been pictured with Obama as well as former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. On social media he can be seen at functions with acting A-listers Ben Affleck and Kate Hudson and rocker Jon Bon Jovi. Married with a son of 13, Vitaliy’s globetrotting lifestyle included once-a-month parties with beautiful women he says are his friends. Their destinations include Thailand, Bali, the Maldives and, for Vitaliy’s birthday in February, the Carpathian Mountains of Eastern Europe.