Lawyer to Stars’ Ex-Wives Has Never Been Busier As Ex-Husband's Fortunes Crumble

Discussion in 'Wall St. News' started by ByLoSellHi, May 25, 2009.

  1. Lawyer to Stars’ Ex-Wives Has Never Been Busier

    Published: May 25, 2009

    LONDON —
    A Mr. Tooth on the phone for you, sir.

    For years, just the word that London’s premier divorce lawyer, Raymond Tooth, was calling was enough to spread fear and loathing among a certain class of wealthy British men. It meant that no fortune, no matter how large and protected, was likely to remain intact.

    And now, under the pressure of the financial crisis, more divorcing wives than ever are turning to Mr. Tooth to make sure they get as much money as they can, even as the fortress of their husbands’ riches crumbles.

    “I have never been so busy,” Mr. Tooth said this month, as he sat behind a boat-size desk that could barely hold the bulging files of his clients.

    Mr. Tooth, who just turned 69, is a small, soft-spoken lawyer with a gentlemanly mien — who is known to clients and adversaries alike as Jaws.

    When it comes to defending the core principle of his mostly female clientele — that each spouse has an equal right to either’s wealth — he never lets go.

    “It is quite clear that a partnership between a husband and wife is a partnership of equals,” he said.

    Clear enough for Mr. Tooth and the spouses he champions, perhaps, but not always for their former partners.

    Mr. Tooth works in a world where men, extremely wealthy financiers or world-famous celebrities, often earn the fortunes.

    The most recent prominent man to suffer his bite was Brian Myerson, a South African financier who once enjoyed a generally favorable reputation in London’s financial center as an activist investor.

    Now he has a different reputation to live down.

    When Ingrid Myerson, his wife of 26 years, filed for divorce last year, Mr. Myerson’s estate was valued at £25.8 million or about $44.2 million. Ms. Myerson, with Mr. Tooth representing her, elected to receive £11 million ($17.1 million) in cash and some properties, while Mr. Myerson laid claim to £14 million ($21.7 million) in shares of the publicly traded investment fund he runs, Principle Capital Investment Trust.

    Initially, Mr. Myerson was pleased with his deal. But when Principle Capital shares plunged 90 percent last fall, Mr. Myerson shocked the legal community here by petitioning an appeals court not only to absolve him of his remaining obligations, but to compel his ex-wife to return the £11 million she had already been paid.

    To no one’s surprise, his petition was rejected.

    Mr. Tooth chuckles at Mr. Myerson’s audacity. It is one thing to ask the court for relief from future payments because of the financial downturn, but it is something else, he suggests with an arched eyebrow, to demand abrogation of the overall agreement, just because you called the market wrong.

    In the United States, the lawyer Steven Simkin fell victim to a similar downturn after his divorce, only his was caused by Bernard L. Madoff. In 2006, Mr. Simkin and his estranged wife, Laura Blank, agreed to split evenly the $5.4 million in an account they had with Madoff Securities, according to a suit that Mr. Simkin filed in February in New York. Mr. Simkin gave Ms. Blank $2.7 million in cash, according to the suit, and held onto the account.

    When Mr. Madoff’s Ponzi scheme was uncovered, the account was worthless and Mr. Simkin petitioned the court to get back the cash he had paid his ex-wife for her share.

    If the Myerson case is any indication, Mr. Simkin should not hold his breath. British divorce lawyers say the Myerson decision struck an important legal precedent and prevented what would have been an avalanche of similar claims had the appeal succeeded.

    “He got greedy; he wanted to have the whole enchilada,” Mr. Tooth said. “And now he has had his fingers burnt.”

    To the delight, it would seem, of Britain’s tabloid press.

    Mr. Myerson’s blunt chauvinistic manners and his sudden fall from grace have made him a popular target for a public fed up with the fancy habits of high-living bankers.

    In a recent interview in The Evening Standard of London, Mr. Myerson lamented the lack of sympathy from his wife for his current financial condition.

    He told the newspaper that he “afforded her a wonderful life,” including a large house in the exclusive London neighborhood of Hampstead, a country estate in Hampshire, and a beach house and polo estate in South Africa. Nannies, private schools and vacations in Greece and Zermatt were also part of the package.

    The lines of responsibility were quite clear, he said. He made his millions as a London financier while she took care of the home front.

    “The biggest stress of the day for my wife was deciding what to tell the cook to make for dinner,” Mr. Myerson said. “There is a certain class of wealthy women today who contribute nothing to the family wealth and then expect 50 percent on divorce. The court says she is entitled to continue the lifestyle you have provided. It’s lunacy, absolute lunacy.”

    Mr. Tooth said that Ms. Myerson, a 48-year-old South African sculptor, would not break her longstanding policy of not speaking to the press. “She is a nice dignified lady,” he said, approvingly. Through a spokesman, Mr. Myerson also declined to comment for this article.

    Mr. Myerson still owes his wife £2.5 million and a South African beach house. Is Ms. Myerson inclined to shed a tear over her husband’s financial plight and relax her demands?

    Mr. Tooth was unequivocal. “There is no sympathy,” he said.

    The British public has been no more sympathetic, particularly since Mr. Myerson, in his interview with The Evening Standard, revealed that for the last several years of his marriage he supported a mistress and another child — keeping them in style in a house right next to his home with Ms. Myerson and their three children.

    The arrangement was kept secret from his wife until 2004. That is when she first called Mr. Tooth, who does not come cheap at £500 an hour, or $775.

    Mr. Tooth, who has been practicing since the 1960s, once said that “no sane, wealthy man should get married at all.” It is a bit of advice he, as a two-time divorcé, has had trouble following himself.

    But it is that experience, mixed with the soothing manner of a psychiatrist, that locks him in with his clients. They have ranged from the wives of Jude Law and Eric Clapton to, it is speculated, the wife of the billionaire Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich.

    And whether they are uncertain and in tears, or furious and unquestioning, Mr. Tooth starts with one simple piece of advice: Don’t be rash. “This is the most important financial decision a wife will make,” he said, referring to a majority of his clientele. “Remember, the wife’s financial position is static, while the husband’s is dynamic.”

    Mr. Tooth swats aside any talk of retiring. Life is good: he has a stable of 50 racehorses, a country estate in Warwickshire and a house in Antigua.

    “People don’t stick together in bad times,” he said with a smile. “It’s human nature.”
  2. Unlike many here who give you a lot of shit for your 'cut and paste' articles. I actually enjoy them. So thanks for posting them.

    However, I got to ask. Do you just sit around all day scanning for negativity?
  3. Ive often thought about the economics of marriage from a male perspective is skewed to our disadvantage. Im sure there is a book out there somewhere on it,,but have yet to encounter it.
    In the past marriage made sense,,the male watched her back and she watched his,,life expectancy was low, so if the male got sick she cared for him,,if she was sick he cared for her til death,,which was short anyways.
    Now we live longer so perhaps til death due us part is not valid any longer. Perhaps we should redo the marriage vows every 5 years or so,,if not renewed then amicable separation, like other contracts we renew them.
  4. This article is more tabloid-esque than the articles I typically share, though it, too, deals with the economic downturn.

    I'm not the most bearish person on the economy you'll meet, but I'm definitely way over on the bearish side.

    I think the U.S. is going to officially have it's 2nd Depression over the course of the next several years, and other countries will fare even worse than us.
  5. +1 :D
  6. S2007S


    No need to scan...

    There really isn't anything positive for this economy or market, maybe in a 10 years we will find some type of catalyst to push the markets higher.
  7. I am also way over on the bearish side. As far as the call for a 2nd Depression. I can't really argue with you on that front.

    As a good buddy of mine said a few months back "the party for this part of the world is over".
  8. I was going to write that a man beyond a certain net worth is silly to get married, but this lawyer was upfront.

    He can be appreciated for that.

    If the woman "who knew u when" is the one u get divorced from, then she should get her half, and u should thank her for the good times.

    After that, if u get married again, u are simply stupid, and deserve to get taken to the shed.

    To drive the point home, u could spend 15,000 a day every day on a high end call girl for 10 years, and the bill would be only 55 million.

    There are, to my knowledge, no escorts that charge anywhere near that.

    And when u tire of that particular model, u get another, no muss, no fuss.

    If u divorce the woman who help u build it all, don't bother. She was the only one who will ever want u for u again:)
  9. It'll be one of those economic exercises, like where Joe Investor is down 60 %, and analysts are arguing whether or not we're in a bear market.

    How are you going to discern the end of the first and beginning of the second when 650,000 jobs are lost/week?