Mills awarded $48.6M from McCartney
LONDON - Money may not buy her love, but Paul McCartney's ex sure has a lot more of it now. One of Britain's bitterest divorces reached a settlement Monday when Heather Mills was awarded $48.6 million an enormous sum, but a fraction of what she sought and a sliver of the former Beatle's $800 million fortune.
Mills declared herself "very, very, very pleased" with a payout that amounted to about $34,000 for each day of her four-year marriage. But some legal experts were surprised the former model, who has been widely portrayed in the British media as a gold-digger, did not get more.
"In the scheme of things, it's quite surprisingly low," said Patricia Hollings, a divorce specialist with London law firm Finers Stephens Innocent. "It is only offering her about 6 percent of his assets. In terms of high-wealth cases it's very low."
A Family Court judge awarded Mills a lump sum of $33 million, plus the assets she currently holds, worth $15.6 million. Mills had sought almost $250 million, according to a summary of the ruling; McCartney had offered $31.6 million, including Mills' own assets.
The settlement was at the low end of many experts' estimates, which varied between $50 million and $100 million. The brevity of the marriage, and the fact most of the former Beatle's fortune was made before he met Mills were factors considered by the judge.
Mills, 40, raised eyebrows by firing her legal team late last year and representing herself in court, but legal experts said that was unlikely to have been a factor in the award.
"I don't regret representing myself," Mills said outside court. "I'm just glad it's over."
McCartney, 65, left after the ruling without saying a word. But Mills emerged from the three-hour private hearing for an impromptu news conference on the courthouse steps railing against McCartney's lawyer, accusing her ex of underestimating his wealth and declaring the settlement had secured her future and that of her 4-year-old daughter, Beatrice.
"All of you that have researched know that it was always going to be a figure between 20 and 30 million" pounds, said a visibly agitated Mills. "Paul was offering a lot less than that ... So we're very, very, very pleased."
McCartney also was ordered to pay $70,000 a year for his daughter, and to pay for the child's nanny and school fees.
Mills said that was a paltry amount. "She's obviously meant to travel B class while her father travels A class," she said.
Mills said she would not appeal the settlement, but would challenge the judge's decision to publish his full ruling, saying such details as where her daughter goes to school could compromise the child's security.
Mills also criticized McCartney's lawyer, Fiona Shackleton, who is well known for representing Prince Charles in his divorce from Princess Diana.
"She has called me many, many names before even meeting me when I was in a wheelchair," said Mills, whose own legal team, in an ironic twist, was led by Princess Diana's divorce lawyer until she fired them in November.
Mills, whose left leg was amputated below the knee after a 1993 motorcycle accident, used the ad-hoc news conference to extol her credentials as a champion of charity. She said she had saved $1.2 million by representing herself in court, money "which could quite easily go to charity."
She did not say which charity it might go to, though, or how much she would donate.
Mills' jackpot does not rank with the most expensive celebrity divorces. Basketball star Michael Jordan and singer-songwriter Neil Diamond both had to pay out about $150 million to their ex-wives, according to Forbes magazine.
British divorce settlements are generally lower than U.S. ones. But Mills' payout is only about half the biggest contested divorce settlement in British history $90 million that insurance tycoon John Charman was ordered to pay his wife of almost 30 years in 2006.
Geraldine Morris, a lawyer and editor with LexisNexis Butterworths Family Law Service, said the judge had probably taken into account the relative brevity of the Mills-McCartney union.
"Whilst Sir Paul McCartney's wealth is substantial, the majority of his assets where acquired prior to the marriage and in that regard the case differs substantially from the case of Charman ... where the family wealth was built up during a very lengthy marriage," Morris said.
McCartney and Mills married at an Irish castle in June 2002, four years after the death from cancer of McCartney's first wife, Linda.
The sexagenarian music legend and the thirtysomething charity campaigner were instant tabloid fodder.
Even as they wed, there were reports the former Beatle's adult children, who include the fashion designer Stella McCartney, disapproved of their new stepmother and were suspicious of her motivations for marrying McCartney.
The couple insisted they were in love, and McCartney said they had not signed a prenuptial agreement.
Their daughter, Beatrice, was born the following year, but there were soon reports of trouble in the union. Mills and McCartney separated in April 2006 and McCartney later filed for divorce, alleging "unreasonable behavior" by his wife.
The couple went to court last month to decide on Mills' share of his fortune, which had been estimated at as much as $1.6 billion.
Judge Hugh Bennett, however, found that McCartney's total worth, including business assets, was about $800 million.
When Mills and McCartney separated, they insisted the split was "amicable" and said "both of us still care about each other very much."
The show of unity did not last long. Last year, Mills claimed in interviews that McCartney had failed to protect her and their daughter from slander, death threats and other abuse, and accused the media of persecuting her. In November, Mills said she had been "treated worse than a murderer or a pedophile," despite years of work for land mine victims and animal welfare charities.
Mills became a hate figure for the British press. In tabloid headlines, McCartney was known as "Macca." She was "Lady Mucca."
Now that the case is over, Mills implored the media to just let it be.
"And I really hope now that me and my daughter can have a life and not be followed every single day and that is why I've come out, to give it closure," she said.
She will soon discover that $50 millions isn't that much when you are used to the kind of lifestyle she enjoyed with Paul. It won't get you a private jet, luxury properties abroad ($15 million is now the average price for a good property in a prestigious areas, minus the huge maintenance costs and taxes), and the kind of security that, say $150-200 millions and more provide. Luxury has never been more expensive (hello $100,000 a week holidays, yatch rental not included), and she does love living the life.
If she's smart, she will by a house in London, a house in the country, invest wisely and live a comfortable but not ostentatious lifestyle. However, we know she is bat**** crazy and completely removed from reality so I won't be surprised if she burns through that money in a couple of years.
Other revelations in the judgment:
McCartney did tell the judge Mills "has always been a good mother." And he revealed he and Mills stopped using contraception the night they were married in 2002.
Although he is very rich, the judge said McCartney lived in a "very modest property" on a 1,500-acre property in Sussex, England.
Charity campaigner Mills had not given 80-90 per cent of her income to charity as she told the court. "Moreover her tax returns disclose no charitable giving at all."
McCartney revealed he "was and remain fairly old-fashioned about marriage ... I believed it was for life." He admitted he still grieved in 2002 for first wife Linda, who had died in 1998. He wore his wedding ring from Linda until his second marriage in June, 2002.
Mills wanted $6.5 million a year for herself and her four-year-old daughter, Beatrice. As well as to buy a London home for $25 million, a $6 million pad in New York City and $1.5 million office in an English seaside town.
Mills told the court she had $6 million in the bank. "There is no documentary evidence to support that assertion," said the judge. "During the hearing she was asked repeatedly to produce bank statements ... to verify this claim. No bank statements were ever produced." P] The judge did not believe a house known as "Heather House" that was bought by McCartney in Heather Road in Beverly Hills was bought for Mills.
A house in England known as "Angel's Rest" was not a gift as she was given a loan by one of McCartney's companies, which she was paying back.
Mills spent $7.4 million in a 15-month period, including $2 million for legal fees and "forensic accountancy fees". Mills paid $300,000 for consultants to assess her husband's business assets as at March, 2000.
Mills also spent in that period $1.2 million on household refurbishment and also wanted $800,000 to put in a swimming pool at her present home.
Mills was paid more than $200,000 to appear on Dancing With The Stars
Both sides blamed the other for leaks. "The wife says that the husband did it in order to capitalize on his good press and to blacken the wife's name for making such unfounded allegations," wrote the judge. "The husband says the wife did it in order to blacken his reputation."
And both accused the other of harassment. "As to the telephone bugging episode in June 2006, the wife denies bugging the husband's telephone line," the judge said. "Both the wife and the husband accuse each other of conducting a campaign of harassment and vilification."
Mills will be in breach if she writes a book about intimate details of the marriage. "Her opportunity to market a book about herself is probably at an end other than as a 'kiss and tell all' book," wrote Bennett, "which she told me she has no wish to do and in any event might well place her in breach of the confidentiality of these proceedings and of those concerning Beatrice."
Golddigger Slap in the Face
Is there any wonder why Heather Mills is universally despised? Heather Mills threw water on Fiona Shackleton in court yesterday. Shackleton is Paul McCartney’s divorce attorney.
WATER. She threw water. In court. And she finds it hard to believe she’s hard to believe???
Still…it was Shackleton and of course Sir Paul who had the last laugh. Because the judge found Heather hard to believe too. Which is why he basically called her a fantasist in his official judgement. And also a loose cannon. And a liar. And yes… even a golddigger, though he was a little more subtle about the last two.
The judgment itself is super long. Too long to read while you’re at work. Later on though, when you have the time, click here for the full PDF and enjoy. Now we know why she wanted it withheld – not because, as she claimed, it compromises her daughter’s privacy, but because the contents are so damaging… even MORE damaging perhaps than her now legendary appearance on GMTV. Well no wonder she’s hired Gloria Allred.
Thanks to C for excerpting the most intriguing parts.
Is there any question Heather Mills was exploiting a widower and his bank account? Consider the detailed play-by-play below. In short, she tried to extract $1 million from him to pay for a series of imaginary loans…
On 2 November 2005 the wife e-mailed Mr Paul Winn, MPL’s finance director, in respect of the property at Thames Reach that “the amount outstanding on the mortgage is £480,000” and “please pay it in the following account and I will deal with the closure of it”. The account was a NatWest bank account in the name of the wife. On 5 November the wife e-mailed Mr Winn that “there are 4 loans with different companies on the property totalling £480,000 …”. Mr Winn pressed for full details on each loan. In February 2006 the wife again e-mailed Mr Winn about the loans and on 28 February instructed him to pay £450,000 into her account “so that I can settle this situation”. On 1 March Mr Winn told the wife in an e-mail that he would not pay any sum “without proof that the loans exist or some protection secured on the property at Thames Reach”.
140. In her Replies to Questionnaire dated 6 February 2007, in response to a question to annotate the wife’s bank accounts showing discharge of the 4 loans and indicating the recipient of each payment, it was said “the wife did not have any loans”.
141. The wife in her cross-examination accepted that Thames Reach was bought mortgage free and never had a mortgage on it. But she said that at the time of the e-mails referred to above she believed that there were loans secured on the property.
142. Mr Mostyn put to her that that was a fraudulent attempt to extract money from the husband.
143. In my judgment it is unnecessary to go so far as to characterise what the wife attempted as fraudulent. However, it is not an episode that does her any credit whatsoever. Either she knew or must have known that there were no loans on Thames Reach, yet she tried to suggest that there were and thereby obtain monies by underhand means.
144. Her attempts when cross-examined to suggest that she may have got in a muddle and confused this property with others, to my mind, had a hollow ring. In the light of the husband’s generosity towards her, as I have set out, I find the wife’s behaviour distinctly distasteful. In any event, as Mr Mostyn rightly submitted, it damages her overall credibility.
Then there’s the spending:
"£30,000 p.a. for equestrian activities (she no longer rides), £39,000 p.a. for wine (she does not drink alcohol)"
Finally… the judge’s assessment of her character:
I accept that since April 2006 the wife has had a bad press. She is entitled to feel that she has been ridiculed even vilified. To some extent she is her own worst enemy.
She has an explosive and volatile character. She cannot have done herself any good in the eyes of potential purchasers of her services as a TV presenter, public speaker and a model, by her outbursts in her TV interviews in October and November 2007.
Her evidence there that she had turned down huge amounts of work is quite inconsistent with her assertion that her earning capacity is zero.
Do you LOVE it or do you LOOOOVE it???
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