- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 22, 2011

VIENNA (AP) - A camera-happy Austrian says he’s booked a young woman linked to the sex scandal engulfing Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi as his companion for the Vienna Opera Ball next week.

Richard Lugner is a 78-year-old construction mogul who is a regular on reality TV and known for his young girlfriends and quirky ways. Every year, he takes a different celebrity to the flashy bash amid much media attention.

Lugner said Tuesday he’s received a completed contract from Karima el-Mahroug, an 18-year-old nicknamed Ruby, who is at the heart of the scandal.

She replaces actress Bo Derek and two other unnamed celebrities who fell through in recent weeks. Lugner’s past dates include Paris Hilton and Nicollette Sheridan.

This year’s Opera Ball is on March 3.