The child support hearing between iconic supermodel, Linda Evangelista, and her baby daddy, billionaire French businessman Francois-Henri Pinault has landed them a place among the nastiest, and most expensive, celebrity support battles ever waged.
After two days of tense, often fractious testimony, Evangelista and Pinault have reached a settlement. A Manhattan Family Court judge approved the details in writing during a final court appointment on Tuesday which Evangelista attended. Pinault was not present.
The fiduciary details of the arrangement have been sealed by the court and a confidentiality agreement ensures both parties will remain tight-lipped or nullify the deal.
Evangelista was reportedly seeking $552,000-a-year in child support for her son Augustine (Augie) who was conceived with Pinault during the couple’s four-month affair in 2005. That's about $46,000 per month, including costs for a nanny and security guard. For comparison, New York state’s record for the biggest child support payout is held by Sean “Diddy” Combs, who is paying $19,000 per month.
(Evangelista’s legal representation has called the above amount innacurate, but aknowledged that the unspecified sum she sought was "substantial.")
Sound a bit steep? Consider whom she's asking for money.
Heir to an almost $12 billion family estate which includes a French soccer team, vineyards and the Christie’s auction house, Pinault is the chief executive officer of PPR, one of the world’s largest luxury goods conglomerates which owns fashion brands Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta among others. He is currently married to actress Salma Hayek, 45, with whom he has a 4-year-old daughter, Valentina. Pinault began dating Hayek at the time Evangelista was pregnant with Augie.
The case included allegations from Evangelista that Pinault suggested she have an abortion, and Pinault's lawyers calling her request for money "mom support." Pinault's side said he offered to pay child support back in 2007 and got no answer, and Evagelista says she's recently lost income with the end of a lucrative L'Oreal contract.
Famed divorce attorney Raoul Felder says the case is full of details ripe for controversy.
“A mother living in a New York City housing project pays the same for a bottle of milk that Ms. Evangelista pays,” Felder says. “And that’s really the appropriate test for child support.”
Felder, who represented Luciana Morad - the mother of Mick Jagger’s son - in her paternity case against the rock star, adds that the items requested by Evangelista could also appear excessive. “This thing about armed guards, sure in some societies it is necessary. When I represented the wife of Mick Jagger’s child, it was a legitimate item because she lived in Sao Paolo, Brazil. America does not have a kidnapping problem."
Such antagonism over money and children brings to mind other famous legal battles between couples that began with affection and ended in notoriety:
5 Famous Couples in Court
Heather Mills and Paul McCartney: When McCartney proposed with a $20,000 engagement ring in 2001, it looked like a match made in heaven: he the rock star widower and she, the amputee model who had become a tabloid sensation. The pair had a daughter in 2003 they named Beatrice.
Five years later, the couple landed in divorce court with Mills accusing McCartney of being abusive, violent and a drug user. The British press painted Mills as unstable, and during one court appearance Mills went so far as to pour a jug of water over one of McCartney’s divorce lawyers. When the divorce was finalized, Mills walked away with a $48.7 million settlement.
Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards: After three years of marriage, Richards filed for divorce in 2005 alleging Sheen had been unfaithful, abusive and addicted to pornography and prostitutes. He responded by leaving her explicit and aggressive voicemails. The pair eventually came to an agreement with Richards having custody of their two daughters. Their relationship has remained in the public eye thanks to Sheen’s recent erratic behavior.
Christie Brinkley and Peter Cook: – Following 10 years of marriage and three children together, supermodel Brinkley filed for divorce after she learned of hubby Cook’s affair with his then 18-year-old assistant Diana Bianchi. During court proceedings – which Brinkley pushed to be publicly covered - she was accused of ransacking Cook’s office and copying his hard drive. In the end, Brinkley had to pay Cook $2 million but retained custody of her children and ownership of the couple’s 18 properties.
Michael Jordan and Juanita Vanoy – The basketball superstar married Vanoy in 2000. When the pair split in 2007, she walked away with an estimated $168 million. In addition to the money, Juanita retained the couple’s Chicago house and custody of their three children. Both parties claim the decision to part was mutual and amicable.
Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin – The Oscar winner and eldest sibling of an acting brood split in 2000 following seven years of marriage. Originally agreeing to joint custody of their daughter Ireland, the battle became ugly when Basinger allegedly violated the conditions of Baldwin’s visitation rights. In 2007, a taped phone message was released to the media in which Baldwin calls his then 11-year-old daughter a “rude, thoughtless little pig.” Baldwin alleged Basinger leaked the tape, a claim she denied. After further court appearances, the pair maintain joint custody of their daughter.