Last week, we investigated one of the stranger celebrity conspiracy theories: That Katie Holmes had used a secret entrance to the Whole Foods in Chelsea, Manhattan to evade paparazzi after filing for divorce against Tom Cruise. Over the weekend, we learned something that might unsettle some of our readers: The conspiracy is completely true. Katie Holmes did have a secret entrance to the Chelsea Whole Foods available only to her. Our outré theory about how exactly she gained access to the entrance, however, was not entirely correct. Here’s how she did it.

Our initial hunch—based on our amateur reading of the building’s blueprints—was that Holmes, with 6-year-old Suri in tow, had entered the grocer via a small cellar, used by Whole Foods and its sister boutique Whole Body, situated directly beneath her apartment complex’s lobby. Here’s a sketch of the route Holmes and Suri would have taken in this scenario (where the red circle is the unlocked door in Whole Body on the ground floor, and the arrow is the door in the corner of the Whole Foods produce section):

This theory was... complex. Though it had the benefit of exempting Holmes from making any extra arrangements with the building’s management, our theory also required her to physically exit her apartment complex and enter Whole Body to eventually access Whole Foods. In an email to Gawker, a municipal engineer in New York City argued this premise was too complex:

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I usually don’t like to comment on articles, but I felt like you over complicated your Whole Foods theory. Based on my review of the plans, there is a door between the cellar level employee area and the cellar level corridor of the Mercantile building. Ms. Holmes probably went through this door and never had to step outside. ... If [the door is] alarmed, someone has keys to it. Ms. Holmes just had to make nice with the building superintendent or a maintenance worker at Whole Foods. It seems more plausible then sneaking into Whole Body just to get into Whole Foods.

Here’s what this route would look like (in which the circle represents the bank of elevators in the Mercantile’s basement, right across from the door leading to the cellar):

The main problem with this theory is that the door in question, when I briefly encountered it while navigating the cellar, appeared to be locked down and equipped with a serious-looking alarm; using it would be something of an ordeal, even for a celebrity. Another concern would be leaks: Stories of celebrities who ask for special treatment, no matter how trivial, inevitably wind up in the inboxes of gossip reporters. It’s the nature of the business.

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But say Holmes was willing to take this risk. How would I prove, either totally or beyond reasonable doubt, that she had used this particular door? I was contemplating how much effort I wanted to invest in resolving this question, late on Friday afternoon, when I received an email from a long-time resident of The Chelsea Mercantile:

I’ve lived in the Mercantile since [redacted] and have it on excellent authority that there is indeed a way to enter Whole Foods from the basement of the building. Now, I haven’t entered that way myself, but a very good source with the building tells me that it is possible. The source ... claims it’s only possible with permission from Whole Foods, and that it only happened once. Source confirms that person was Ms. Holmes. Says Whole Foods, for whatever reason, did not want to set a precedent and so didn’t continue the practice.

This resident later supplied more information about their source—a knowledgeable member of the building’s management, it turns out—and emphasized that no other individual besides Holmes has ever been allowed, before or since, to use the same cellar door.

I have no real reason to distrust this person, who supplied their real name and whose residency I confirmed through independent channels. Representatives for Katie Holmes, Whole Foods, and The Chelsea Mercantile did not attempt to dispute this person’s account, either. (They didn’t return my emails.) I am reasonably certain, then, that the westernmost door of the cellar used by Whole Foods and Whole Body is the same door Katie Holmes used to access Whole Foods in secret.

Let’s pause for a moment and think about what this means. It means, of course, that the baffled paparazzi were on to something—Holmes did have a way of entering the Whole Foods without having to go outside. It also means that the Whole Foods employee who denied the existence of a special entrance to an Observer reporter was somehow unaware of the special entrance. That, or he was lying through his teeth. Given the fact that Holmes had to traverse the cellar—where plenty of Whole Foods employees were likely to encounter her, her daughter, and their entourage—it’s hard to see how the existence of Holmes’ special door would have escaped those employees’ notice.

Also: It was all true. The paps were right. Whole Foods knew. The Chelsea Mercantile knew. Katie Holmes knew (of course she knew). Everybody, except the public and Tom Cruise, knew about her hidden entrance to Whole Foods. And they kept it a secret for years.

Everybody was in on it.

The best thing about conspiracy theories isn’t the joy of inventing them, discussing them, debunking them. The best thing about conspiracy theories is that, sometimes, they turn out to be true.


This is Illuminati Month on Black Bag, in which Gawker locks itself in the woodshed and breaks out the red yarn to explore its favorite conspiracy theories. Email or gchat the author: trotter@gawker.com PGP key + fingerprint Photo credit: Splash, City of New York Department of Buildings