independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Money was no object for couple on crest of wave

SHE was a stylish, social diarist about town. He was a millionaire developer 20 years her senior and a poster boy for the excesses of the Celtic Tiger.

Perhaps it was love at first sight or perhaps it was a shared vision for success, but whatever it was that brought former gossip columnist Gayle Killilea and property developer Sean Dunne together, it's holding out.

When they pair began seeing one another in 2002, they seemed like a golden couple. They were the ultimate power-duo until the Baron and Baroness of Ballsbridge's €700m property portfolio began to go south.

Just before the peak of the boom, Sean Dunne asked his other half to pick a number in order to choose his bidding amount on the Jurys site in Ballsbridge.

While on holidays in Thailand he asked her to pick a number between 253 and 275 without telling her the reason why. Having been born in 1975, Gayle plumped for the latter. This was followed up by a further €120m for the neighbouring Berkeley Court Hotel.

Even at the height of the Celtic Tiger property boom, these were astronomical amounts, with the Jurys' bid €100m more than its nearest rival.

But money was of no concern to the couple who were rising the crest of the Celtic Tiger wave.

When they married in 2004, the couple enjoyed a €1.5m wedding trip.

These days the Dunnes are to be found Stateside. They moved with their three young children to an exclusive enclave in Connecticut where they are standing together fighting Nama in the courts to prevent the agency accessing Ms Killilea's financial information.

In a recent High Court case it emerged that a cheque lodged to cover legal costs was signed by Gayle, it was also Gayle who purchased their home in the US and Gayle who has two US companies registered in her name.

Irish Independent

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