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On the money

Entertaining the dictators

Beyoncé at her gig in Dubai. Mason Poole/Parkwood Media/Getty

Beyoncé’s $24m pay cheque for performing at the opening of a Dubai hotel “is no anomaly”, says Kyle MacNeill in Vice: celebrities have long made a killing from private gigs. The fees vary wildly, from five figures for artists with a couple of hits, to seven and beyond for “stadium-sized” acts. Most stars aren’t picky about who they play for. J-Lo has sung for the ruler of Turkmenistan, who “once banned lip-syncing, ballet and circuses”; Sting performed at a festival put on by the daughter of Uzbekistan president Islam Karimov, “condemned for torture and sham elections”; Usher and Mariah Carey have been hired by the Gaddafi family.

Some gigs are more wholesome, however. Soul singer Seal once serenaded a couple after a romantic dinner in Paris, hiding behind curtains with a guitar before the big reveal. “Apparently the four-time Grammy winner genuinely enjoyed himself and stayed for hours after his performance, drinking and chatting.”