A billionaire shelled out big bucks to fly Jane Fonda to Austria to be his date for a gala — but it backfired when the actress and climate activist went rogue and then put the event on blast.
Thursday’s Vienna Opera Ball is the highlight of the Austrian social season and Fonda is this year’s guest of Austrian shopping-mall magnate Richard Lugner, who has reportedly paid as much as half a million dollars for celebrities such as Kim Kardashian to accompany him to the annual fundraiser.
Lugner reportedly rolled out the red carpet for the 85-year-old “Grace & Frankie” star who was welcomed to Austria’s capital city with a bouquet, a photo op and a stretch limousine — all of which she declined to accept. Instead, the “Book Club” star tore up her script for the week, and made her own itinerary instead, touring museums and galleries in Vienna, sans Lugner, according to the Irish Times.
She then ranted that fossil fuel companies are “criminal,” after learning that oil and gas company OMV was a sponsor for the ball.
“Until yesterday I thought I was going to the opera with this man, now I’ve learned that it’s a popular ball,” Fonda told The Irish Times at a news conference ahead of the event.
She also told reporters she won’t be dancing with her 90-year-old date. She then used her platform to trumpet climate activism.
“These fossil fuel companies are criminal, they are killing people and killing the planet,” she said. She then urged people to “do everything we can to prevent the climate crisis becoming an out-of-control catastrophe.
“I engage in civil disobedience, I get arrested just like people gluing themselves to the street, more people pay attention and, little by little, people start doing something,” she said.
Lugner reportedly appeared uneasy at the press event, saying little.
Fonda admitted she was only in attendance because she was paid “quite a bit of money,” though it’s unclear exactly how much.
A rep for Lugner did not immediately return a request for comment, and a rep for Fonda declined to comment.
In previous years, Lugner has forked over a lot of dough to secure A-list arm candy for the annual ball, including Kardashian, who attended in 2014.
But the reality star was too busy filming her show — and hardly gave him the time of day.
“She’s filming [for ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians’] and so she doesn’t want to have me around,” Lugner told the Los Angeles Times after the event. “The guest should be with me and not anywhere else that is not agreed upon.”
In 2010, Lugner told The Post he enjoyed the company of Faye Dunaway and Grace Jones and noted that they were “great dancers.”
Pamela Anderson, Dita Von Teese and the late Raquel Welch have also previously attended as Lugner’s paid guests — as did Lindsay Lohan, who also turned out to be something of a diva.
Lugner told The Post the actress wanted to “change some of the dates,” and refused to pick out a gown ahead of time, instead waiting until the last minute. Her handlers also mandated there be no alcohol in Lohan’s sight, leaving Lugner’s team to play baby-sitter.
“[Lohan’s] managers have told us to make sure that she doesn’t drink during her trip,” Lugner said.
Still, at least Lohan reportedly shared a dance with him.
Fonda, on the other hand, noted: “I have an artificial shoulder and hip replacement, I might fall apart.”