In a Tiff With Tina

Benetton, the Italian shock advertiser and sometime sweater manufacturer, is in a snit over the actions of Tina Brown, the new editor at the New Yorker. The reason: Brown reportedly turned down an ad from the manufacturer, best known for its controversial and off-the-wall ad campaigns, that was to run in the magazine's current issue. Brown told the firm that she rejected the ad--which pictured an albino African woman--because of the sensitivity of an article on Malcolm X, said Benetton spokesman Peter Fressola. Unhappy with the decision, Benetton pulled all its advertising. Fressola said Benetton will not have magazines dictate when and in what sequence their ads can run. Benetton has no plans to advertise in the New Yorker in the near future, he added.

* CEASE AND DESIST: When talk turned to "the suit" this week at Plus Models Management, the phrase didn't mean something to wear. Nope. Suit referred to a federal antitrust action filed Wednesday by the New York agency that represents large-size models.

The suit accuses the renowned Ford modeling group of pirating Plus' best models in an attempt to put it out of business. Ford--which represents such famous (and slimmer) models as Cheryl Tiegs, Christie Brinkley, Elle MacPherson and Jerry Hall--has about 50 models in its large-size division, the lawsuit said. All but three came from other agencies; about half of those were recruited from Plus, the suit said.

Plus Management seeks an injunction to halt Ford's recruiting practices, which it blamed for cutting its income in half.

* RURITANIA LIVES: While he was in Romania last week, Michael Jackson got just what he so desperately needed--another uniform. Before the pop star took ill and canceled his European tour, he was presented with a ceremonial Romanian military uniform by President Ion Iliescu. State television later showed Jackson in the gold-braided uniform.

* HISTORIC HAT: Napoleon, the 19th-Century French dictator and style-maker, is thought to have owned 120 hats. One of these, a black felt number, will be auctioned next week in Munich, Germany. The Hermann Historica auction house said it expects the hat to sell for at least $25,000.

* HISTORIC HEIST: Rather than wait for an auction, discerning London thieves took matters into their own hands by lifting jewelry worth millions, including a Cartier bracelet made for Wallis Simpson, the American-born Duchess of Windsor. One of the biggest gem heists in Britain came to light last week after details of the missing gems were listed in the Art Loss Register, which alerts dealers to stolen items. Register officials, who declined to identify the owner of the jewelry, said the robbers took about 250 pieces--including the Cartier bracelet, made in 1946 and inscribed "Wallis from David." The Duke of Windsor, who renounced the British throne to marry the Baltimore divorcee in 1936, was known to his friends as David.

* SURGERY FOR SUCCESS: Dressing right for business in Japan means more than wearing the proper clothing. It also means having all 10 fingers. Owning a complete set is important because business cards are presented with both hands in Japan, where such small ceremonies are important. Unfortunately, many former Japanese gangsters are lacking in this department: They are missing one or both little fingers, ritually lopped off as punishment or to show loyalty to the boss. Until now, mobsters trying to go straight had to put up with this digital embarrassment. But according to a Washington Post report, an orthopedic surgeon has a remedy. Dr. Mitsuo Yoshimura removes the gangster's toe and attaches it to the hand. The cost is about $6,000. Yoshimura is booked up until next April with nothing but finger work.

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