A move to try to duck out of taxes is about to get this billionaire screwed.
Also, never underestimate a Eastern European model.
WSJ: Bernie Ecclestone is famed for his cunning negotiating tactics. The British Formula One boss rules over his sport and its profit like no other sports-league boss in the world (see my 1998 profile of Bernie Ecclestone and his deal savvy). He gets a slice of television fees and he has sold, re-purchased and sold again his various interests in the sport several times. His fortune is estimated at 2.4 billion pounds ($3.5 billion)–not bad for a high-school drop-out who is the son of a trawler captain.
Yet when it comes to negotiating his marital assets, Mr. Ecclestone may have backed himself into a corner. Mr. Ecclestone’s wife of 24 years, Slavica, a 6-foot 2-inch Croatia-born former supermodel, has announced she is filing for divorce. This, apparently, was news to Mr. Ecclestone who, when told of the media announcement responded to the Daily Telegraph: “Really? Oh … We will see. I didn’t even know she had a PR company. You hear of things—I must find out.”
Um, Supermodel? That term is so overused. Have you ever heard of her?
Normally, supermodels don’t get the financial upper hand on billionaire entrepreneurs. But Mr. Ecclestone placed 1.9 billion pounds–the proceeds from a 1999 bond issue and the sale of 75% of the business a year later–into an offshore trust. The trust, named “Bambino,” is controlled by Slavica for the benefit of herself and their two daughters.
Bet he didn’t see this one coming.
…My guess is that Mr. Ecclestone put the assets in the trust for tax reasons. Or maybe he did it to recognise his wife’s contribution to their success and fortune. Either way, Simon Bethel, an associate at law firm Mills & Reeve, told the Telegraph: “This case may see the highest award to a wife in legal history.”
Lawyers says she could wind up with a third or half of his fortune, making the former Armani model a billionaire. (For a list of the current record holders, click here).
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