John Nazarian, 53, is one of the most expensive private investigators in Los Angeles, says the Los Angeles Times, charging $10,000 to $20,000 on retainer and $400 an hour for his services. He’s racked up a number of celebrity clients, including singer Peggy Lee, Dean Martin, and kooky billionaire Doris Duke. The Times says that Nazarian is part of a long, not particularly illustrious tradition of Hollywood private eyes, from fictional antiheroes, such as Sam Spade and “Chinatown’s” Jake Gittes, to real-life Fred Otash, the investigator for the scandal sheet Confidential Magazine, and Anthony Pellicano, who sits in jail awaiting trial on more than 100 counts of wiretapping and witness intimidation.
Nazarian keeps no records. On a recent night, his game plan consisted of a 3-by-5 card with an address. Things have cooled down in Nazarian’s line of work since the Pellicano indictment. Says Nazarian: “I said to the lawyers, all the good wire guys, they’ve all gone to Chicago for the summer. Anybody who goes out and wiretaps and does bugging now, they’ve got to be out of their minds.” The California Association of Licensed Investigators recently suspended him from its e-mail list serve for 30 days after he sent a nasty e-mail. Nazarian thinks most private investigators are “clowns” who rack up bills and don’t deliver.