EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: Earl’s shock as his ex sells marital home for £5million — which is £2million more than it was valued at in their divorce last year
She celebrated her marriage to the Earl of Bradford amid unforgettable splendour, with 230 guests being treated to Taittinger pink champagne, a sumptuous dinner, flamenco dancing – and fireworks over the lake at Weston Park, Shropshire, her new husband’s former family seat.
But that all amounts to little more than loose change when compared with the peach of a payday that Penny, Countess of Bradford is now enjoying, thanks to her divorce last September, 14 years after that dazzling wedding. Indeed, I can reveal that eminent obstetrician Penny, 61 – known professionally as Dr Penelope Law – has just sold the former marital home, two months after putting it on the market for £5.25million. It’s a particularly mouth-watering price as the five-bedroom house was valued at £3.3million in the divorce settlement. ‘Penny walked out in September 2020,’ a friend of the erstwhile couple tells me. ‘So, if she’s got the asking price, that will be nearly £500,000 for every year she was with him.’
Richard Bradford, as the resolutely down-to-earth earl prefers to be known, is dumbfounded. ‘I didn’t even know it was on the market,’ he tells me, adding that he bought the house, which had been used as a rental property, shortly before he married Penny. He spent about £500,000 ‘completely re-doing it: turned three ground floor rooms into one, extended it out the back. Even put air conditioning in the main bedroom. I was very proud of it and very much enjoyed it’.
Richard Bradford, as the resolutely down-to-earth earl prefers to be known, is dumbfounded, and didn’t know the house was on the market
Estate agent Knight Frank evidently approved of his efforts, describing it as ‘an exceptional house with expansive and elegant living space…extended and designed to a high specification’.
The 75-year-old earl, whose first marriage, to Jo Miller, ended in 2006 after 27 years and three sons and a daughter, met Penny, who had also been previously married, at Rugby School, where their respective daughters were pupils. It is an encounter he has had cause to regret. ‘I wrote to the divorce lawyers today to say that I find it absolutely ridiculous what Penny got out of the divorce – two houses, leaving me with no house.’
Describing the arrangement as a ‘crazy’ division of spoils after a comparatively short and childless marriage, he adds that he would like Penny to return some of his belongings, including a picture he particularly treasures. ‘I bought it from Christopher Sheppard, my greatest friend, best man when I first married, who died some years ago.’ It’s possible that the picture will have more than sentimental value. ‘I’m trying to get it authenticated as a Turner,’ adds Bradford. ‘Penny claims not to know where the picture is. It always hung in the same place – in the drawing room, just to the left of where my desk was.’
His ex-wife declines to comment, but Ayesha Vardag, of Vardags, who acted for her during her divorce tells me: ‘Dr Law has no idea where the painting to which the Earl refers may be’, adding that he was ‘repeatedly given the opportunity to collect all personal possessions to which he was entitled and visited the house several times for that purpose’.
The 75-year-old earl, whose first marriage ended in 2006 after 27 years and three sons and a daughter, met Penny, who had also been previously married, at Rugby School, where their respective daughters were pupils
Richard Bradford describes that statement as ‘utter b******s’. He went to the house just once, he explains, and found that his ex-wife had ‘piled up’ his pictures in the hall. He loaded them into the car, without inspecting them – a process which took about ten minutes. Only when he got home, he adds, did he discover that that particular picture was missing. ‘There are other pictures I could have claimed as well, if I’d been able to go round the house,’ he adds.
On her website, his ex-wife designates herself ‘Dr Penelope Law…The Countess of Bradford’, which probably goes down well at the intimidatingly expensive private Portland Hospital, where Sarah, Duchess of York and the Duchess of Sussex opted to give birth and where, her website explains, she ‘regularly sees patients’.
I wonder which Huntington-Whiteley will make it up the aisle first? M&S model Rosie, 36, has been engaged to Hollywood hard man Jason Statham, 55, for seven years. But I can reveal that her brother, fellow model and personal trainer Toby, 34, has just got engaged to Noa Murcia, 37, a French lawyer, pictured. ‘Toby and Noa are smitten,’ a friend tells me.
Toby was previously engaged to yoga teacher Cicely Brown, but they split up in 2019. Rosie and actor Statham, who have two children, met on the set of Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, in 2010.
The smart set’s talking about… Belgravia’s U.S. ‘refugees’
There’s a frisson in the air in the West London enclave of Belgravia. Well-heeled residents, I hear, have been joined by a pairing who’ve just hopped across ‘the Pond’ from New York — ‘design stylist’ George Mickum, and his socialite chum Tracey Hejailan-Amon.
George, the son of Sally Painter, a senior adviser under Bill Clinton, has made waves among Manhattan society, being accused of selling fake Hermes Birkins, the handbags which go for £20,000 apiece
George, the son of Sally Painter, a senior adviser under Bill Clinton, has made waves among Manhattan society, being accused of selling fake Hermes Birkins, the handbags which go for £20,000 apiece. Creator of ‘Georgeous’, a fashion and image consulting business, George brands the allegations ‘absurd and false’.
Tracey, meanwhile, claimed during her divorce from Swiss billionaire Maurice Amon that, taking into account yachts and private jets and properties in New York, London, Paris, Monte Carlo, Switzerland and Hong Kong, her expenses amounted to £400,000-a-month.
Just made for Belgravia.
Why it might be nice to see you for Wilnelia
Single since her beloved husband, TV legend Sir Bruce Forsyth, died in 2017 at the age of 89, Wilnelia is toying with the idea of finding love again.
‘I’ve been thinking maybe it’s time to start dating,’ Lady Forsyth, 65, tells me at the Caudwell Butterfly Ball, at Indigo at The O2, London. ‘I haven’t had the time to think about dating because I’m so lucky to have so many amazing friends. I’ve been going out with some friends for dinners, but I haven’t really found an admirer.’
Single since her beloved husband, TV legend Sir Bruce Forsyth, died in 2017 at the age of 89, Wilnelia is toying with the idea of finding love agai
Wilnelia, who won Miss World for her native Puerto Rico in 1975, inherited almost all of the Strictly Come Dancing host’s £11.5 million fortune. She may find a new a suitor on a golf course, as she says it’s her favourite pastime while she’s in Britain. ‘It’s nice to be back here and playing golf.’
Form an orderly queue, chaps.
Might need another coat, Kimberley!
Made In Chelsea star Kimberley Garner started a swimwear label before moving into the world of interior design.
Now, the property developer’s daughter, 32, has found a way to combine her careers. She’s shared a video of her decorating a room while modelling one of her skimpy red swimsuits.
‘Bikinis and interiors,’ she trills. ‘I can’t stop designing.’
Hairy Bikers back in the saddle
Hairy Bikers star Dave Myers, who was diagnosed with cancer last year at the age of 64, popped up at the Fortnum & Mason Food and Drink Awards to collect the Personalities of the Year prize with his co-presenter, Si King.
‘It’s a huge step back to normality,’ the TV cook tells me at the Royal Exchange in London. ‘Last year, I couldn’t make it because I was so ill.’ Myers, far right with King, began filming a new series of their popular cooking and motorcycling travelogue programme this week.
‘It’s good to be back on the bikes,’ he adds, advising fellow cancer sufferers: ‘Don’t despair. It’s hard to be positive, but never give up.’
Those who call Robert De Niro selfish for fathering a seventh child at the age of 79 should dial down the criticism, says Phones4U billionaire John Caudwell.
The tycoon, 70, is in a similar position to the Hollywood legend, as his girlfriend, Modesta Vzesniauskaite, 39, gave birth to his seventh child in March.
Those who call Robert De Niro (pictured) selfish for fathering a seventh child at the age of 79 should dial down the criticism, says Phones4U billionaire John Caudwell
‘There are so many children with terrible parents,’ Caudwell tells me. ‘But if you’re good parents and you can live for a reasonable length of time, then you can do a tremendous amount of good in a few years, whereas the bad parents do a lot of harm in a few years.’
Moore’s misguided swipe at Mordaunt
Ungallantly, former Daily Telegraph editor Charles Moore suggests that Penny Mordaunt’s widely praised feat in holding an 8lb ceremonial sword in an upright position for nearly an hour at the Coronation wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
‘Penny did not have to bear the full weight of the sword,’ Lord Moore says. ‘It rested in a pouch suspended from her collar.’
Former Daily Telegraph editor Charles Moore suggests that Penny Mordaunt’s widely praised feat in holding an 8lb ceremonial sword in an upright position for nearly an hour at the Coronation wasn’t all it was cracked up to be
Lord Snooty, as Moore is known to colleagues, seems to forget that Mordaunt carried two swords that day. Shortly after handing over the 17th-century Sword of State, which did rest in a pouch for 51 minutes, she held the slightly lighter Jewelled Sword of Offering unsupported for well over an hour.
Well-connected author Philip Womack — who’s married to a princess, Tatiana von Preussen, scion of the Royal House of Prussia — celebrated the launch of his 12th book, Ghostlord, at the Owl Bookshop in London’s Kentish Town, with friends including financier Ben Goldsmith.
The teen fiction — about a young girl battling the forces of evil — is published by Little Island, an Irish publisher. ‘I hadn’t thought I had any Irish connections,’ Womack tells me. ‘But it turns out I’m descended from Domnall Mor Mac Turlough O’Brien, the King of Thomond, who’s famous for bashing the Normans and surrendering 300 cows to the High King.’
Let’s hope that’s enough to make him an honorary Irishman…
(Very) modern manners
Time to roll up the sleeves? The National Liberal Club, where Queen Camilla held her 75th birthday lunch, is in a stew over whether its dress code should be liberalised.
At present, male members have to wear a jacket and tie if they eat in the club dining room in the evening, whatever the temperature.
Club chair Karin Rehacek says: ‘It seems rather unfair on the chaps because we women can wear a lightweight summer outfit, so it’s proposed that we relax the dress code during the summer months.’
It’s the younger members, I hear, who generally disapprove of the ‘radical’ change, which will be debated at the club’s annual general meeting next month.
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