Once, Hay saw John Gotti and Imelda Marcos, dining separately, at a restaurant he was trying to get press for. He had a photographer shoot the two together. “The headline was: ‘Two Mob Bosses,’” he said.
“I know what the story is, and when there is no story, I create it,” Mr. Hay said.
Hay honed those creative skills in the 1970s as a gossip reporter for The National Enquirer. But seeing where the real money is, he eventually crossed over to nightclub investments and a spinoff PR operation.