NEW YORK — François-Henri Pinault was back in family court here Friday in his battle with supermodel Linda Evangelista over child support for their 6-year-old son, Augustin.
This story first appeared in the May 7, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
It has been reported that Evangelista is looking for as much as $46,000 a month.
Evangelista’s lawyer, William Beslow, spent more than an hour cross-examining Pinault about his expenses and the $12 million trust fund he put away for Valentina, his 4-year-old daughter with his wife Salma Hayek.
Dressed in a black suit, white shirt and black tie, the chairman and chief executive officer of PPR sat anxiously listing his expenses, which included a $100,000 Tag Heuer wristwatch that he was sporting; 47,000 euros, or $61,660 at current exchange, he spent on clothes in 2010, and 25,000 euros, or $32,800, on accessories in that year. Pinault said his vacation expenses totaled more than 190,000 euros in 2008, 122,000 euros in 2009 and about 160,000 euros in 2010. In 2010, he forked over roughly 56,000 euros to nannies — he has four children in total — and spent about 35,000 euros maintaining the garden at his residence in Paris.
“I had to redo it because some water spilled,” he said, explaining that the high sum had to do with water damage to the property.
The ceo, who admitted to expensing 4,000 euros a month on business-related meals, explained, when asked by Beslow, that he put away a trust for his daughter, Valentina, who will be able to access it when she is 21. Until then, should something happen to Pinault or Hayek, whoever is taking care of their daughter will have access to the funds for child care and “directly benefit.”
“This is a person who has effectively embraced some unknown guardian…all because that other person is the custodian of his daughter. Ms. Evangelista is the guardian of his son,” said Beslow. “It’s hypocritical and inconsistent.”
Beslow said that since Pinault “acknowledged” Augustin as his son, he hasn’t paid child support, but David Aronson, Pinault’s lawyer argued that his client reached out to Evangelista and her lawyer in 2007, hoping to settle the issue with an undisclosed payment offer. That letter and subsequent letters in the years to follow were unanswered.
“When I make an offer, if there is not an answer, that means no,” Pinault said, explaining why he hasn’t made payments.
Evangelista, who swooped in earlier wearing dark sunglasses, a charcoal blazer, white skirt, tan Christian Louboutin heels and matching Chanel bag, then took the stand, answering questions from her lawyer about her humble beginnings in Canada. The model, who appeared tired, said that before she entered fashion, she juggled odd jobs, including picking cherries, working in a convenience store and polishing silver and gold baubles at the same jewelry store where her mother worked. She got her break when she was spotted in a beauty pageant by a modeling recruiter.
“Unfortunately, I did participate in a pageant,” she said in a high-pitched, lilting voice, avoiding Pinault’s gaze. “It was embarrassing…mainly because I didn’t win.”
Evangelista would go on to become one of the more recognized models around but said that despite her success, “there’s not a lot of demand” for her to work today.
With the end of the day looming, Evangelista’s testimony was cut short by presiding Support Magistrate Paul Ryneski, and it will continue this afternoon.