The secret is finally out. The name of the person who sold Whitney Houston‘s casket photo is … Raffles van Exel!
According to a report published by Forbes Magazine last week, sources at the Whigham Funeral Home in New Jersey know for a fact that a man named Raffles van Exel is the person who sold the heart wrenching photo of the late R&B icon Whitney Houston’s body lying in her golden coffin.
But who the hell is this guy?
Forbes says that Raffles van Exel, who also uses the aliases Raffles Benson and Raffles Dawson, is a so called “close friend” of Whitney’s who attended not just one, but TWO private viewings for the singer held at the Whigham Funeral Home in New Jersey.
The first viewing was held on Friday, February 17th, the night before the memorial service, and the second was held Sunday morning before the burial.
Staff at the funeral home — who have vehemently denied having any involvement with the photo leaking throughout this entire ordeal — say they noticed van Exel right away.
Though he’s not a blood relative of the Houston’s, his apparent close association with Whitney Houston allowed him to travel with the family on a private jet from Los Angeles to New Jersey prior to the services.
Van Exel was also literally the ONLY non-family member who attended both viewings, and he also accompanied Patricia Houston — Whitney’s former sister-in-law and manager — in her car to those, as well as the the funeral and burial services. One source says van Exel even had his own bodyguard with him, which was a bit unusual.
The famous R&B singer George Benson (“Give Me the Night,” “Turn Your Love Around”) has his own story about Raffles.
Around 2005, he says, his lawyer had to send van Exel a cease and desist letter warning him not use the name Benson or describe himself as Benson’s son. George Benson has four living sons, and three deceased.
Benson says that around 2004-2005 van Exel had ingratiated himself into Benson’s mansion in Engelwood, New Jersey.
“He was there for a year on or off,” Benson told me. One day, Benson says, van Exel called him and told him to come home; he thought there’d been a robbery.
When Benson returned to the house, he discovered $25,000 in cash was missing. He’d taken out of the bank to pay for home repairs. By the time he made the discovery, van Exel had vanished.
“We never saw him or heard from him again,” Benson recalls. Without tangible proof, he couldn’t press charges with the local police. van Exel, as I reported in my original story, has sometimes been sued under the name Raffles Benson.
Raffles van Exel — originally from Amsterdam — was also really good friends with Michael Jackson, and was close with both him and Whitney at the time of their respective deaths. (How convenient…)
Van Exel was also reportedly on the fourth floor of the Beverly Hilton Hotel in one of Whitney’s suites when she died, and appeared downstairs in the lobby shortly thereafter sobbing, wearing aviator sunglasses.
And get this. The guy even went on to attend the Clive Davis party, where he actually went around telling people he was the one who found Whitney dead in the tub, in an obvious attempt to gain sympathy from Houston’s big time celebrity friends and associates.