Steve Bing to Pay $200K for Clinton Korea Trip

Bill Clinton friend will pay the tab for the N. Korea journalist-freeing trip.

ByABC News
August 5, 2009, 3:00 PM

Aug. 5, 2009— -- Hollywood mogul Steve Bing didn't just lend Bill Clinton his private plane for the former president's trip to North Korea -- he's footing the cost of the whole flight.

Bing, a real estate heir and the owner of Shangri-La Entertainment, will pay an estimated $200,000 for the round-trip flight, said Marc Foulkrod, the chairman and CEO of Avjet, the charter company that operates Bing's plane, a Boeing 737.

Clinton used the plane on his trip to secure the release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee, two American journalists held by North Korea on allegations that the two illegally entered the country.

A representative for Bing said he was not available for interviews.

Bing, a long-time friend of Clinton's, has a colorful background: He fathered a child with supermodel Elizabeth Hurley and once sued billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian, claiming that private investigators hired by Kerkorian invaded his privacy by sorting through his garbage.

Bing is also known for donating millions to the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates, including Clinton's wife, former presidential candidate-turned-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Bing will pay the six-figure tab for the trip as part of his monthly bill for Avjet's services, Foulkrod said.

"There's a very large team at Avjet team involved in all categories, from maintenance operations, to scheduling to fuel," Foulkrod said. "It was very much an involved process."

Though government officials initially described the flight as a "private" trip by Clinton, Foulkrod said that travel preparations were closely coordinated with the Air Force, the U.S. State Department, and the Federal Aviation Administration.

"The logistics required services, permits, visas," he said. "We could not do this without an unprecedented level of cooperation."