Lewinsky's price is not yet $10m

One million dollars and rising. Two million. Six million

One million dollars and rising. Two million. Six million. When the price is right, Monica Lewinsky will sell her story to the highest bidder for a record sum - and the bidding war is now on.

As President Clinton fled to Moscow yesterday, the New York publishing world was alive with rumours that the woman with whom the president confessed an "inappropriate" relationship was holding out for a record-breaking $10 million for her story.

Ms Lewinsky already has a standing offer from the US supermarket tabloid Star to tell all for $1 million. But according to a report in the New Yorker magazine, Rupert Murdoch's HarperCollins publishing giant offered Ms Lewinsky $2 million in an exclusive book deal last week.

The New Yorker added that another "undisclosed publisher" had made "a confidential $6 million offer", a sum only ever exceeded by the $6.5 million paid to Gen Colin Powell for his memoirs - also by HarperCollins.


But according to the New York Post tabloid - also owned by Mr Murdoch - the former White House intern has refused all bids so far.

The paper claims that all the negotiations are being handled by Ms Lewinsky's mother, Ms Marcia Lewis, who has urged her daughter to stand out for $10 million.

Ms Lewis has been round the book-bidding course before as the author of a tell-all 1996 biography of the Three Tenors, in which she hinted at an inappropriate relationship between herself and Placido Domingo.

Behind all the gossip and rumour lies more than a suspicion that both sides are pumping out disinformation as they try to close a deal. "No one's ever gotten $10 million and Monica Lewinsky is not going to be the first," Ms Judith Regan of HarperCollins told the Post - both in the Murdoch stable. Ms Regan denied the New Yorker's $2 million bid claim.

Although publishers are anxious to win the deal, they are affecting anxiety that by the time such a book is published all the secrets may have emerged and the public may be bored.

Yet the book deal all New York publishers claim they would die for is not the Other Woman's but the Wronged Woman's.

"Hillary Clinton is worth the most, even much more than the president," Ms Sue Carswell of Random House said.