Biggest divorce payout
August 5, 2011 § Leave a comment
The former wife of the Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky yesterday won Britain’s biggest divorce settlement estimated at more than £100 million.
Galina Besharova: “Love was lost but memories and two children remained”
The payout was agreed by Mr Berezovsky a year to the day after his wife, Galina, had divorced him in a 45-second hearing because of unreasonable behaviour.
Richard Todd, QC, for Galina Besharova, 52, who uses her maiden name, told Mrs Justice Eleanor King in the High Court in London that the couple “had worked very hard to reach an amicable settlement”.
He said there were “very substantial sums involved”. Neither side would reveal how much but the judge said: “It does not matter whether the awards are thousands of pounds or hundreds of millions of pounds. At the end of the day if the husband and wife can reach agreement they can both live with, it bodes much better for their future welfare and for the children of the family and to continue working for the benefit of all of them.”
The judge’s comments are thought to have given a clue to the award being the largest ever. The payment is thought to have been between £100 million and £200 million, according to divorce lawyers. The previous UK record was a £48 million award to the former wife of the insurance millionaire John Charman in 2006.
Mr Berezovsky’s fortune is estimated at £550 million, so a 50-50 split would have given his wife £275 million. However, it is unlikely that a court would have awarded half.
After the hearing, Mr Berezovsky said: “I have always believed in British justice and yet again I have been proved right.”
Ms Besharova issued a statement which also paid tribute to the “superb” English legal system. She said: “English judges are not only incorruptible but have a sense of fairness in their DNA.
“This is particularly so with the provision for wives — England leads the way in properly looking after wives — wives who have often given up a great deal in the marital partnership so that their husbands might succeed.
“It is right that this partnership contribution is recognised — husbands and wives often make very different but equally valuable contributions. These should properly be reflected in an award if the partnership breaks down.
“With the expert assistance of our legal teams, Boris and I were able to achieve such fairness in an English High Court.”
She added that one day she hopes to sit down with her grandchildren and tell them the story of her and her “truly brilliant” ex-husband. The story would be of “the colossal fortune that was made, of how love was lost but memories and two wonderful children remained”, she said.
Ms Besharova was granted a “quickie” undefended divorce from her 64-year-old husband to end their marriage in July last year.
She was granted her a decree nisi on the ground that the marriage had irretrievably broken down and she found it intolerable to live with him because of his unreasonable behaviour.
The couple met in Moscow in 1981 when he was a struggling 34-year-old mathematician earning about £60 a month. They married ten years later in November 1991.
It was his second marriage and they have two children Artem, now 21, and Anastasia, now 18. His first marriage was to Nina Vasilievna, by whom he has two daughters Katya and Lisa.
The couple have lived apart for much of their marriage and Mr Berezovsky now lives in a luxury estate at Wentworth Park, Surrey, with Elena Gorbunova, 42, with whom he has two children.
Ms Besharova who lives in a penthouse in Kensington Palace Gardens, West London, said in court documents that while her former husband’s unreasonable behaviour was not affecting her health, it was continuing.
Mr Berezovsky said he had no intention of defending the petition and, asked if he objected to paying the costs, he replied: “No — subject to assessment.”