Bernard “Bernie” Ecclestone is credited with bringing Formula One racing the fame and clout that it has today. The 82-year-old Formula One president and CEO is worth a staggering $3.8 billion dollars.
These days Ecclestone is equally likely to appear in the news for his personal life as much as his professional one; he’s been married three times, has three children (including two daughters whom the tabloids love), and a 198-foot yacht.
Yesterday, Ecclestone was indicted on bribery charges by German prosecutors. People in the sports world are still reeling, and Ecclestone is preparing to fight the accusations (which have been building up over the past two and half years).
But instead of dwelling on the negative, let’s take a look at Ecclestone’s awesome life.
Bernard 'Bernie' Charles Ecclestone was the son of a fisherman, born in a hamlet of Suffolk, England in 1930. As a kid, he would complete two paper routes before school everyday, spend the money on bakery buns, and then sell the buns at a profit to his classmates.
He left school at the age of 16 to work at a local gas station and pursue his hobby of building motorcycles. He eventually started selling parts and opened his own motorcycle dealership.
After a mediocre run at becoming a Formula One race car driver himself, Ecclestone managed drivers and then bought a team in 1972. He began to broker contracts and TV deals for other F1 teams, and by 1997 had successfully turned F1 into a profitable global franchise.
That same year, Ecclestone made some controversial comments regarding Indycar racer Danica Patrick: 'You know I've got one of those wonderful ideas ... women should be dressed in white like all the other domestic appliances.' He later apologized to Patrick.
He's not a stranger to saying controversial things. In a Times interview in 2009, Ecclestone said, 'Terrible to say this I suppose, but apart from the fact that Hitler got taken away and persuaded to do things that I have no idea whether he wanted to do or not, he was — in the way that he could command a lot of people — able to get things done.'
Ecclestone is buddies with some very powerful people. For instance, his friendship with Vladimir Putin helped secure Russia as a major backer of the Formula One races. A circuit will also be built around the Sochi Olympic Par in the Southern Black Sea in 2014.
Ecclestone has been married three times, but the most famous was to former Armani model Slavica Ecclestone for 23 years. She was 28 years his junior (not to mention 11 inches taller), and they had an extremely rocky marriage. The couple divorced in 2009, with Ecclestone paying Slavica $1.52 billion from his then $3.65 billion fortune.
They had two daughters together, Petra and Tamara. The socialites are frequent fodder for the British tabloids, and are known for buying up super-expensive real estate and handbags.
On November 24, 2010, Ecclestone was ambushed by four men who robbed him of over $300,000 in jewelry. He later posed in an ad for the $17,000 Hublot watch that was stolen (Hublot is not-so-coincidentally a partner of Formula One).
When he was robbed, he was with his then-girlfriend, now-wife Fabiana Flosi. The pair met at a World Motor Sport Council where she regularly attended meetings as a member of the Brazilian Motor Sports Federation board. She's 46 years his junior.
The pair got married at a private ceremony at 'Le Lion,' a ski chalet in the exclusive resort town of Gstaad, Switzerland that Ecclestone owns.
But by all reports, he lives a fairly low-key lifestyle for a multi-billionaire. Ecclestone sold off his incredible car collection in 2007, as well as his humongous London home for $86.58 million.
He now reportedly lives in a penthouse above his office, has milk delivered to his doorstep everyday, and collects miniature Japanese sculptures as a past time. That's pretty quaint!
Yesterday, Ecclestone was indicted for bribery, leaving many wondering what will happen to Formula One: 'F1 is what it is thanks to Bernie Ecclestone,' racecar driver Christian Horner told the press. 'Everything we see here is based on what he did and succeeded in doing. I think that without him we would have big problems.'
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