A former Pirelli calendar model has won a record cash payout of £53 million in her divorce from a Saudi billionaire, in what is thought to be the biggest payout in English history.
Christina Estrada was seeking a settlement of £196m from Walid Juffali, a Saudi businessman. Frances Hughes, a solicitor for Ms Estrada, had argued £196 million was a small proportion of Mr Juffali's wealth and would still amount to “a very significant downgrade” of the living standards she was accustomed to during their marriage.
Ms Estrada had assets worth about £22 million, bringing the value of the total settlement to £75 million.
Ms Estrada was born in California and moved to London in 1988 at the height of her modelling career. She was Mr Juffali's second wife and married to him for 12 years. They have a daughter together. Mr Juffali married his third wife, a 25-year-old Lebanese model, in 2012 and divorced Ms Estarda in 2014 under Islamic law. Ms Estrada said she was unaware he had married another woman before their divorce.
Ms Estrada claimed Mr Juffali had a fortune worth £8bn, a figure his legal team claimed was closer to £113.8 million.
In the Royal Courts of Justice today, Mr Juffali’s lawyer urged Mrs Justice Roberts, presiding, to give his client until the end of the year to pay the sum ordered in the ruling, claiming it would take him “months and months” to raise the cash. Mr Juffali was told to pay the cash sum to Ms Estrada by 4pm on 29 July.
Mr Juffali, 61, is receiving treatment for advanced cancer in Zurich and could not attend proceedings.
The case made headlines internationally after claims from Ms Estrada during cross-examination that she needed £40,000 for fur coats, £109,000 for haute couture dresses and £21,000 for shoes annually.
Ms Estrada also asked for enough to cover a luxury home in London worth about £60m, a £4.4 million house in the country at Henley-on-Thames, £495,000 for five cars, £39,000 for two new watches each year and just under £15,000 for five new silk dressing gowns annually.
“I am Christina Estrada. I was a top, international model,“ she had said during cross-examination. "I have lived this life. This is what I am accustomed to. It is difficult to convey the extraordinary level of luxury and opulence we were fortunate enough to enjoy.”
In March, Ms Estrada won the right to make a claim on Mr Juaffli’s fortune, after the court of appeal ruled his diplomatic immunity was irrelevant.
In her ruling, Mrs Justice Roberts said she could not accept that Ms Estrada needed “anything approaching” £60 million for a house in central London.
"I take a similar view in relation to the sums she seeks to spend on maintaining her lifestyle in this and her Californian property,” her ruling continued. "There is no need for her to maintain three cars at a home she uses for only part of the year, nor for such high levels of staffing costs. The same observations apply to the budgeted costs of staffing her principal home in London. In this context, I have well in mind the observations of Baroness Hale about the need to structure a financial award so as to reflect a 'gentle transition from the marital standard of living to that which [she] could expect as a self-sufficient woman'."
Ms Estrada said in a statement: “I am very grateful for today's ruling. I have lived in the United Kingdom since 1988 and am thankful for access to the British courts.
“Having grown up in a middle-class family and having enjoyed a successful career until my marriage, I am fully aware that the spectacular life Walid and I led was immensely fortunate and rarefied.
“And I fully understand how this can be perceived in the wider world.
“My focus now is to support my daughter and move forward with our lives. For her sake and the sake of our wider family, I hope we can now resolve matters sensibly.”
Ms Estrada said the legal process had proved “incredibly bruising and distressing” for her but that she was “delighted” with the outcome.
Dr Juffali's solicitors Mishcon de Reya said in a statement: “Dr Juffali has shown himself to be a fair man who has been prepared to offer his ex-wife a more than comfortable lifestyle for the rest of her life, which he believes she deserves.
“The sole purpose of this case was to evaluate an appropriate financial settlement based on Ms Estrada's needs, as opposed to the extraordinary demands presented by her at the start of this case.”