Saturday 17 March 2018

Saudi billionaire dies weeks after model ex-wife granted €89 million in divorce settlement

Christina Estrada arrives at the High Court in London earlier this month
Christina Estrada arrives at the High Court in London earlier this month

A Pirelli calendar girl who won €89 million from her former husband is likely to have the settlement delayed after he died.

Model Christina Estrada (54) was awarded the huge sum earlier this month at the High Court after the case was brought forward due to the declining health of her ex-husband, Saudi businessman Sheikh Walid Juffali (61).

Dr Juffali, who was suffering from terminal cancer, did not attend the hearing. He died in Zurich, where he was receiving treatment, on Wednesday.

If Dr Juffali had died before proceedings had been concluded, Ms Estrada’s three-year battle to claim the cash would have failed.

However, the settlement is now legally binding. High Court Family Division judge Mrs Justice Roberts had ordered the sum to be paid by 4pm on July 29 but this is likely be delayed while Dr Juffali’s affairs are put in order.

American-born Ms Estrada was said to be “devastated” at news of her former husband’s death. She and Dr Juffali, who was chairman of Saudi Arabia's EA Juffali and Brothers, met in 2000 and married soon afterwards.

Dr Juffali then decided to take another wife, a 25-year-old Lebanese model, and divorced Ms Estrada under Islamic law without her knowledge.

Ms Estrada, who had a daughter with her former partner, had initially asked for £196 million. She claimed that her ‘reasonable needs’ included a €65 million home in London and a €5.2 million country mansion in Henley, as well as more than €1.1 million a year for clothes and €418,000 a year for staff.

She rejected an offer which would have given her €44 million, coupled with her own assets, and eventually received a €53 million cash settlement.

Her lawyers said that when assets she had already been given were included, the payout amounted to €89 million, adding it was "by more than €59 million the largest needs award ever made by an English court".

In court, Ms Estrada told Mrs Justice Roberts: “I was a top international model. I have lived this life. This is what I am accustomed to.”’

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