As multimillionaire identical twins with a $65m court settlement in their favour and the sort of physiques that allowed them to tower over Arnold Schwarzenegger in a recent photo, it was always going to be difficult for Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss to blend in seamlessly with their fellow students at Oxford University.To give them their due, the 6ft 5in MBA students, whose statuesque prowess at rowing led to one newspaper in their native East Coast America dubbing them “testosterone titans”, have dealt uncomplainingly with the travails of student life in Britain.After failing to get a room in their college of choice, Christ Church, they sought out digs off the city’s Iffley Road student ghetto only to find that the high turnover of occupants at the address meant the 28-year-old Harvard graduates failed a credit check when they tried to get iPhone contracts. They settled for pay-as-you-go phones instead.But a very different world of Hollywood movies, A-list parties in Manhattan and high-powered lawsuits over claims that their idea for an Ivy League social networking website was stolen and turned into Facebook is never far away from the Winklevoss twins.After all, there cannot be many scholars of global commerce in Oxford’s Saïd Business School who know they will be featuring in one of Paramount Pictures’ autumn blockbusters, The Social Network, about the creation of the Facebook phenomenon. Produced by Kevin Spacey and written by Aaron Sorkin, creator of The West Wing, the film features Armie Hammer, an up-and-coming Hollywood star, playing both twins with the help of some Parent Trap-style technology.The Winklevosses claimed that they had been working since 2002 on a website to link students at the 50 universities and colleges in the Boston area and hired fellow Harvard undergraduate Zuckerberg to write computer code for the venture in November 2003 after hearing that he was an adept programmer.When Zuckerberg launched Facebook in February 2004, the twins cried foul and attempted to have the venture shut down – starting a legal battle which endured while the rival networking site became a vast success and their own venture foundered.In court documents filed against Zuckerberg, the Winklevosses alleged that the Facebook founder “never intended to provide the code and instead intended to breach his promise… and intended to steal the idea for the Harvard Connection website, and in fact he did so”. For its part, Facebook and Zuckerberg denied the claims and issued a countersuit against ConnectU.The case was settled 18 months later and details of the confidential deal were accidentally disclosed by a law firm last February, revealing that, whatever the result of the ongoing proceedings, the twins are likely to be the only multimillionaire competitors in the history of the 181-year-old Boat Race.
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