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Friday, 8 July 2016
Christina Estrada: Former supermodel wins £53m divorce settlement
A former supermodel has been awarded a £53m ($69m) lump sum after a divorce battle with her billionaire ex-husband.
Berkshire-based Christina Estrada, 54, had wanted £196m from Saudi businessman Sheikh Walid Juffali, 61, to meet her "needs" - including £1m a year on clothes - the High Court was told.
The total settlement, which takes into account her own assets, is about £75m.
Her lawyers said this makes it "by more than £50m, the largest needs award ever made by an English court".
Ms Estrada, who is is currently living at the matrimonial home bordering Windsor Great Park, had rejected an offer that, when added to her own assets, would have given her £37m to live on.
The US citizen was married to Mr Juffali for 13 years and has been based in the UK since 1988.
She said: "Having grown up in a middle-class family and having enjoyed a successful career until my marriage, I am fully aware that the spectacular life Walid and I led was immensely fortunate and rarefied.
"And I fully understand how this can be perceived in the wider world.
"My focus now is to support my daughter and move forward with our lives."
She added that the process had been "bruising and distressing", explaining that her ex-husband had taken a second wife and divorced her without her knowledge, and had used diplomatic immunity to try to stop her accessing a legally binding settlement.
The former Pirelli calendar model argued in the London court that she was entitled to a settlement that would allow her to maintain her lifestyle.
Ms Estrada was cross-examined in court on her needs, which she said included:
£40,000 a year for fur coats
£109,000 a year for haute couture dresses
£21,000 a year on shoes
£60m to afford a luxury London home
A £4.4m countryside home in Henley-on-Thames
£495,000 for five cars - three in London and two in the US
She told family judge Mrs Justice Roberts: "I was a top international model. I have lived this life. This is what I am accustomed to."
Her lawyers estimated her ex-husband is worth £8bn.
But Mr Juffali, who has been married three times, said in a written statement that was a "fantasy" figure, putting his current net worth at £113.8m.
He could not attend court because he is terminally ill with cancer and undergoing treatment.
He said in the statement that he had left the vast majority of his wealth to his three eldest children, including his teenage daughter with Ms Estrada.
The sheikh divorced Ms Estrada in Saudi Arabia in 2014 under Islamic law, without her knowledge. He had married a 25-year-old Lebanese model in 2012 while still married to Ms Estrada.
Mr Juffali's solicitors Mishcon de Reya issued a statement after the hearing, stating that he had "shown himself to be a fair man who has been prepared to offer his ex-wife a more than comfortable lifestyle for the rest of her life, which he believes she deserves".
"The sole purpose of this case was to evaluate an appropriate financial settlement based on Ms Estrada's needs, as opposed to the extraordinary demands presented by her at the start of this case," they added.
Mrs Justice Roberts said in her ruling that Ms Estrada had described her lifestyle during the course of the marriage as "magical".
She added: "That may well be an apt description. The issue is the extent to which she should be entitled to continue with the bubble of a 'magical existence' for the foreseeable future. I am concerned with ensuring that adequate provision is made to meet her reasonable needs."
Mr Juffali has been ordered to pay Ms Estrada her lump sum by 29 July.
Though Ms Estrada's lawyers said she received the largest "needs award" ever made by an English court, larger total payouts have been made in the past.