That’s the rumored ballpark licensing fee paid by TMZ to Splash News* for the Prince Harry Las Vegas “strip billiards” shots. Whether you approve of a not-so-innocent bystander cell phone snapping and selling, the citizen muckracker mechanism and resulting TMZ item were responsible for this summer’s blockbuster celebrity news scoop.

It’s a Wynn-Wynn for the two west coast media outfits. Splash News makes a quick, small profit while TMZ garners the kind of Web traffic (and residual TV ratings heat) that quickly covers the purchase price. Although $15,000 seems low. It would not surprise FishbowlLA if the licensing fee was higher, and that the $15,000 is actually what Splash paid at their end.* Attempts to confirm with both Splash and TMZ were unsuccessful.

You’d think that Harry, having grown up in the glare of Fleet Street, would have some sort of lock-down routine when he makes like a rock star and picks out young women from a hotel lobby crowd. But as The Daily Beast “Royalist” Tom Sykes rightly guessed when the story first broke, this was stunningly not the case. Today, TMZ has confirmed the security-breach details, while also gloating:

When the girls entered the room, we’re told the ladies were NOT asked to surrender their phones … an epic failure considering Harry’s well-documented wild side.

As the party fired up, several girls began to snap pics on their cell phones … and one of Harry’s minders lackadaisically told the women, ‘Awww, come on .. no photos.’

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