On one level, considering how many people live paycheck to paycheck, former supermodel Christina Estrada’s testimony at London’s High Court on Tuesday detailing financial hardship as endured by the super-rich might sound absurd, indeed offensive.
On another level, it was fabulous.
“I am Christina Estrada,” she said. “I was a top international model. I have lived this life. This is what I am accustomed to.”
And what a life Ms. Estrada was used to: She is seeking almost $262 million in compensation for her 13-year marriage to Dr. Walid Juffali, a 61-year-old Saudi billionaire.
In court, Estrada—as reported by the Daily Mail—stated her demands for “£55 ($73) million for property and a £1 ($1.3) million-a-year clothes budget, including £40,000 ($53,000) for fur coats, £109,000 ($146,000) for haute couture dresses and £21,000 ($28,000) for shoes every year.”
Juffali’s lawyers estimate his wealth at over $865 million, but Estrada’s legal team says he is worth around $11 billion.
Estrada has rejected a £37 million ($49 million) settlement from Juffali, who is presently being treated for cancer in a Zurich hospital.
Estrada broke down when she related her and Juffali’s daughter telephoning her to say, “Mummy, you are going to make me a poor girl.”
In astonishing exchanges over what Estrada felt was acceptable accommodation, she said she’d found a home in London’s Eaton Square for $73 million that would cost another $8.7 million to decorate as she wished.
Another property, costing $8.7 million was dismissed because it would have meant Estrada would have had to share a floor with her staff.
She needed $37,000 for Wimbledon tickets, and $13,300 to attend Sir Elton John’s annual white tie ball.
“The divorce was sparked by Dr. Juffali’s decision in 2012 to marry a 25-year-old Lebanese television presenter when he was still married to Miss Estrada,” the Telegraph reported. “The marriage was permissible under Saudi Arabian law.”
Estrada’s list of demands included a further $5.9 million dollars needed for a country home, and almost $454,000 for staff. The Mail further listed $647,000 to rent a yacht for two weeks, $6,439 to tip the crew, $330,000 for a Paris holiday at the Presidential Suite at the Ritz, plus $99,000 for the nanny’s room; as well as many other thousands of dollars for a vacation in the south of France, beauty treatments, luxury handbags, casual handbags, clutch handbags, mobile phones, new suitcases, face cream, and sunglasses.
Estrada claimed she was “standing up” for women in fighting for case, and regardless of how luxurious her lifestyle sounded insisted hers was a “hard life full of responsibilities.”
The questioning of Estrada in court produced some fascinating exchanges.
The Mirror reported that Estrada’s ex-husband’s lawyer asked her: “You are claiming for 55 pairs of boots and shoes, at a cost of £58,000 every year. Can you not see that that is a lot of money?”
“Not really,” Estrada replied. “That is what they cost. That is the standard I am used to.”
The 35 watches she needed were part of a collection, and necessary as “it depends what I am wearing and needs to go with my outfit.”
Estrada’s entertainment bill demand—$16,000 a year—was possibly undermined when, asked to name another opera besides La Traviata she had been to see (in Paris, no less), Estrada replied, The Nutcracker, which—as was pointed out to her—was a ballet.
Juffali’s lawyers have labeled Estrada’s claims as “excessive, exaggerated, and firmly in gasp territory.”
Frances Hughes, representing Estrada, said in a statement: “The tactics deployed by Dr. Juffali’s legal team have the sole aim of publicly humiliating Ms. Estrada, whose claim for £196m ($262m) represents a tiny proportion of his wealth and a very significant downgrade on the standard of living to which she and her daughter became accustomed to during the marriage.”