Tuesday 28 January 2020

Who is Petra Ecclestone? 8 things to know about the woman at the centre of the divorce of the decade

Petra Ecclestone is seen in the paddock before the start of the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit de Monaco on May 27, 2012 in Monte Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Petra Ecclestone is seen in the paddock before the start of the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit de Monaco on May 27, 2012 in Monte Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

Every now and then, a celebrity divorce comes around that makes you sit up and take notice.

The combination of a glamorous wife, a questionable husband, a celebrity father and a family fortune worth billions is a story that makes for tabloid gold. Socialite Petra Eccelstone (28) is engaged in bitter divorce proceedings with her husband of six years James Stunt and they began proceedings in court on Wednesday.

But who is she and why is worth following?

1. She is worth billions

Tamara Ecclestone, Bernie Ecclestone and Petra Ecclestone arrive at the European premiere of "Batman Begins" at the Odeon Leicester Square on June 12, 2005 in London, England. (Photo by MJ Kim/Getty Images)

Let's get the obvious out of the way - Petra comes from a lot money. Her father Bernie Ecclestone, the former Formula One boss, is worth more than €2bn. Despite the fact that Stunt signed a pre-nuptial agreement giving him €15m if they divorced, the Ecclestones still have a fight on their hands and if yesterday's appearance in court was anything to go by, it won't be pretty.

In 1997, Bernie deposited €3bn in a trust for Petra and her older sister Tamara in the hope they would invest wisely and ensure financial security for the next generation - instead, they spent it all within 10 years.

"The idea was that they'd buy super-quality property that would be long-term, for their children and everything else. It didn't happen. They haven't done that. So they’ve had access to money which they’ve spent," he told the Guardian.

2. Her wedding cost over €12m

Formula One owner Bernie Ecclestone's daugter Petra (R) leaves her hotel in central Rome, on August 26, 2011. Petra will marry James Stunt, at the Odescalchi castle in Bracciano, near Rome, on August 27. AFP PHOTO/ TIZIANA FABI (Photo credit should read TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images)

Petra wed James, an art dealer, in 2011 in an incredibly lavish ceremony at Odescalchi Castle in Rome, which cost an incredible €12m. 350 guests flew in from around the world and sipped on Chateau Petrus wine (€4,500 a bottle) and enjoyed two fireworks displays. Petra wore a custom Vera Wang gown costing nearly €100,000 and David Guetta, Eric Clapton and the Black Eyed Peas performed.

Her mother Slavic had no qualms about dropping the money on the wedding, describing it as a "once in a lifetime occasion".

"It was worth every penny because it made my daughter happy. Who cares about money?"

Bernie wasn't so happy though as he later said, "My younger daughter got married and I thought, as father of the bride, I should pay for the wedding. But when it was suggested how much they would be spending on drinks, I thought it was absurd, and I managed to upset my daughter and my wife.

"Then she spent in excess of £12million on my daughter's wedding, which I did not know about until afterwards."

3. She's a mother of three

Petra has three children with James - Lavinia (four) and two-year-old twins James Jr and Andrew.

4. She met her estranged husband on a blind date

(From R) Bernie Ecclestone, his daughter Petra and her James Stunt attend the 49th Variety Club Race Day at Sandown race course on September 1, 2007 in London, England. The charity raises funds to improve the lives of sick, disabled and disadvantaged children across the UK. (Photo by Claire Greenway/Getty Images)

They were an odd couple to begin with, but after they were first introduced on a blind date in 2006, Petra and James hit it off but still waited five years before walking up the aisle.

5. She owns the largest home in Los Angeles

The Manor in Los Angeles

Petra and James purchased 'The Manor' for $85m in 2011 from late legendary tv producer Aaron Spelling's wife Candy. With cash. The 56,500 square foot space is the largest residence in Los Angeles, a city filled with impossibly large residences. It has more than 100 rooms and room to park more than 100 cars, as well as 14 bedrooms and 27 bathrooms. Oh and they're selling it for $200 million.

6. She's surprisingly low-key (in comparison to her sister)

(L-R) Tamara and Petra Ecclestone on the Red Bull Energy Station during the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at the Monte Carlo Circuit on May 29, 2011 in Monte Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

While Tamara (33) might have had her own Channel 4 reality show Billion $$ Girl, which showed her bathing in a crystal tub worth €1m and gave behind the scenes access to a life filled with riches most of us couldn't even imagine; Petra is much more private. While Tamara does magazine spreads with her family and is active on social media, Petra prefers life away from the limelight, in particular since becoming a mother - she famously didn't even reveal the names of her twins until months after they were born in 2015. She did, however, welcome W magazine to The Manor in 2012 for a feature.

7. She barely drinks

Petra is "90%" tee-total, she told W, only occasionally indulging in a glass of champagne. "I’ve been to clubs all around the world, and I kind of feel like I’ve done it and I’ve seen the majority of the clubs."

8. She's proud of her privilege

Petra Ecclestone is presented flowers for her clothes collection during the Amber Fashion Show and Auction held at the Meridien Beach Plaza on May 23, 2008 in Monte Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

In 2012, Petra said she wanted to be known "for my business", although it's unclear what exactly that business is. But she understands the public fascination with her, explaining that very few would spend their riches differently if they had the access.

"Everyone always talks, because I’m rich and I’m privileged, and I understand that. At the end of the day, I don’t need to work, and I think it’s good that I have the drive and willpower to get up and do something in the morning even though I don’t need to.  No one ever talks about the good in me, they just say that I’m spoiled.

"Yes, I have money, and I understand that, and I work. And I think anybody else in my position wouldn’t say no if they had the opportunity to live the way that I live."

Online Editors

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