Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Davids, Torn Asunder, Settlement Near

The match made in heaven between George David, the former CEO of United Technology, and Marie Douglas David, a Swedish countess, has been torn asunder.

Their divorce hearing was being held in a Hartford court presided over by Judge Steven Frazzini and a pack of lawyers representing both parties.

Several media outlets had been drawn to the scene of the dissolution for reasons having to do with money and dramaturgy. The persistent refrain of most news reports had been: How low have the mighty fallen.

In more amicable days, the Davids together signed a post nuptial agreement limiting any post marital bloodletting to about $50 million, much of which was in stocks. Ms. David and her lawyer wanted about twice that much, and Mr. David understandably had been offering a stiff resistance to the demands, which he considered unreasonable. Having been married for seven years, the settlement for Ms. David represented a yearly salary of about $7,142,913, not a niggardly piece of the marital pie.

The principle question to which the court should have addressed itself was: Does contract law mean anything at all in this the age of celebrity divorces? However, this question usually gets booted to the curb when one or both of the two marital parties are plunderable and the other is insatiable. In truth, the answer to the above legal question usually depends on the depth of one or the other of the celebrity’s pockets.

Throughout the legal wrangling, Mr. David’s lawyers argued the contract was binding and more than generous. Ms. David’s lawyers thought the agreement had been voided when the two got together again after putting their “John Handcocks” to the document. The make up was brief and punctuated by marital infidelities on both sides; lawyers were dispatched hither and yon to dig up legal dirt, some of which was canned after what the gossip columnists likely considered a premature settlement.

The $50 million David agreed to surrender to his wife upon the breakup of their marriage certainly had purchased a good deal of gold-plated legal representation. In her effort to force David to part with an additional $50 million, well beyond the amount stipulated in their less than iron-clad post nuptial agreement, Ms. David hired New York celebrity attorney William Beslow, who has been indispensable in helping such luminaries as Robert De Nero, Patricia Duff, Mia Farrow, Demi Moore, Tatum O’Neil and Harvey Keitel retain or lose money in domestic battles.

On July 18, after much legal jousting, the two newly divorced millionaires appeared before reporters and announced their break-up had been finalized. Gossip columnists and editors who had for days been filling their front pages with news of the crack-up wept in their beers. Mr. David announced he was happy and dashed off to Martha’s Vineyard to participate in a race featuring his 90-foot ocean racer, Rambler, while the ex-Mrs. David, having accepted a few million beyond what had been specified in her post nuptial agreement, was looking forward to a summer free of Mr. David.

According to one news report, “Besides the money — which started at $8 million, then adjusted to $6.5 million after Douglas-David forfeited $1.5 million owed to David for taxes he had paid on her behalf — she gets her two Mercedes-Benzes, including a $97,000 CLK320, her horse Chamaco, a chandelier from their Avon home and properties she already owned in Sweden. She must vacate the couple's $39 million Park Avenue co-op by Sept. 21.

“Douglas-David also will receive some art, furnishings and other personal items as part of the settlement, beyond provisions of the post-nuptial agreement that include jewelry David had purchased for her but kept in his name. Several promissory notes she had signed with him also will be forgiven.”

Who says there are no happy cost efficient post marital endings?
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