Friday 23 June 2017

$1bn divorce woman declares: ‘I’m bankrupt’

Jon Swaine

A British woman who won a reported $1bn in one of the biggest divorce settlements in history has filed for bankruptcy in the US.

Patricia Kluge, a 62-year-old socialite, winemaker and one-time adult film actress, reported debts with her third husband of about £30m, despite selling her 300-acre estate in Virginia.

She admitted defeat after a £10m fire-sale last year of paintings, Roman statues, Qing dynasty antiques, a Chippendale commode, a four-poster bed from Hedingham Castle and a George III crystal chandelier.

Liquidating jewellery including 64 carats worth of diamonds, platinum and diamond earrings, and a sapphire-and-diamond Cartier watch, also failed to keep her afloat.

Asked last night where all her money had gone, Miss Kluge would only say: "That's a very long story". Her husband, Bill Moses, has said: "We spent too much, too fast."

"It's not the moment to talk about 'what ifs'," Miss Kluge told The Daily Telegraph, "or for what we coulda, shoulda, woulda".

"It needn't have come to this, and we had settlement talks on the table, but the banks decided this was the route to take. We're focused on the future and moving forward."

Born to an English father and half-Scottish mother in Baghdad, Miss Kluge married Russell Gay, a 1970s soft porn baron, and appeared in his magazine Knave as a model and columnist.

She once told The Daily Telegraph that moving from Iraq to England had been "an epiphany".

"It was so invigorating," she said. "I didn't have to wear gloves any more. Mini-skirts and boots were much more interesting." She went on to appear in the film 'The Nine Acres of Nakedness'.

But eventually she separated from Mr Gay and, in 1982, wed John Kluge, a 66-year-old, German-born US television mogul who came to be America's richest man, worth $6 billion.

She became a fixture on Manhattan's social circuit and a £1m party was thrown at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel for her 40th birthday. Among the 400 guests was Frank Sinatra.

When the couple divorced in 1990, Miss Kluge won an estimated $1bn comprising cash and their mansion, Albemarle House, together with its grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia.

She went on to marry Mr Moses, a lawyer two years her senior. The couple founded a 775-acre vineyard close to where Thomas Jefferson had attempted to produce wine at his Virginia estate, Monticello, in the 18th century.

Their vineyard, which produced 'Kluge New World' wines, supplied the White House and high-class New York restaurants. Its limited-edition debut wine, which cost £300 a bottle, came in a specially-made box of American walnut with purple velvet lining, which was designed by Viscount Linley, the Queen's nephew.

But despite early success and a personal investment of £27m, the vineyard ran into difficulties amid the international financial crisis.

It was sold to Donald Trump, a friend, for £3.7m this year. Miss Kluge said last night that the couple now planned to relaunch it and manage it for the property tycoon.

"All we?re focused on is getting this done and then re-building the company with Donald and his team, bottling the wine and re-opening our distribution channels," said Miss Kluge.

"Our friends from all over the world have been very supportive and protective. And we've had great support from the state governor and senators.

"They want to see Virginia become a major wine state, and it's going to be now we have an old friend to help us make it happen".

Their mansion, once listed for £62m, was sold for just £9.3m. They now live in a more modest house nearby. "It's not so small, but it's much smaller than Albemarle," said Miss Kluge.

"We're very happy," she said. "It's life. We're not the first to go through it. Through all this tragedy we see a lot of positive things. I'm a Brit - you cut one arm off and I'll grow another".

Telegraph.co.uk

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