Model settles child support fight

Last updated 09:07 08/05/2012
Linda Evangelista

SEEKING CHILD-SUPPORT: Supermodel Linda Evangelista

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In the midst of a trial that brought tales of the high life and high fashion to family court, supermodel Linda Evangelista and a billionaire French businessman have reached an agreement to end their child support fight.

Evangelista, Francois-Henri Pinault and their attorneys were mum about the details, which they planned to give to a magistrate on Tuesday.

"Everybody is very glad that it's over," Pinault lawyer David Aronson said.

The settlement came in the midst of a trial over how much, if anything, Pinault should pay toward the care of their five-year-old son. Pinault is the CEO of a company that owns Gucci, Yves St. Laurent and other top-flight fashion lines; he's now married to actress Salma Hayek.

Both Pinault and Evangelista had testified at the trial, answering questions that delved into her career, his high-flying finances and his limited relationship with the boy. Evangelista had been due to continue testifying on Monday.

The two sides negotiated all weekend and into Monday morning, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private talks.

In legal papers, Evangelista had said she was spending US$46,000 (NZ$57,922) a month on armed bodyguards, a 24-hour-a-day nanny and other expenses for the boy, Augustin, nicknamed Augie. He was born in 2006 after a four-month relationship; Pinault said he and Evangelista spent only about seven days together in all.

Evangelista's lawyer said she willingly paid all the child's expenses at first, but she now needs some help. While Evangelista - who once quipped that supermodels "don't wake up for less than US$10,000 a day" - testified that she still can command about US$100,000 to walk a runway, attorney William Beslow said her roughly US$1.8 million-a-year income sank last year because a major contract with L'Oreal ended.

"Ms. Evangelista is not looking to piggyback the lifestyle of Mr. Pinault," Beslow said in an opening statement last week. He said she wasn't asking for any particular amount.

As part of the family behind luxury-brands conglomerate PPR, Pinault makes about US$4 million a year, and Forbes estimates his family's net worth at US$13 billion. He wears a US$100,000 watch, dropped about US$52,000 on a 12-day vacation to Bora Bora and bought himself about US$62,000 in clothes in a single year, according to his testimony.

Pinault, who has a 4-year-old daughter with Hayek and two other children from a previous marriage, legally recognized Augie as his son in 2007. Pinault said Evangelista asked for what he considered an unreasonable amount of child support, he countered with another offer, and he didn't get a response for years. She went to court in 2010.

"We are not going to claim that he cannot pay a fair and reasonable child support," Aronson said in an opening statement. But $46,000 a month, he said, would be "just ridiculous."

That would indeed be high, even for New York, though there have been some other big-money child support cases here. Rap impresario Sean "Diddy" Combs was ordered in 2005 to pay about US$19,000 a month in support, and Revlon Inc. Chairman Ronald Perelman was ordered in 1999 to pay more than US$12,000 a month.

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- AP

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