Next week, the daughter of Pablo Picasso may pay out the biggest divorce settlement ever. Roger Pearson reports.
NEXT Monday sees the start of a financial battle in the High Court's Family Division which could make all others pale into insignificance.
Recent weeks have seen Jerry Hall filing for divorce, and the talk is of her seeking a u30m settlement from Mick Jagger.
But a closed court hearing scheduled to begin next week before Mr Justice Wilson, one of the leading experts on the financial aspects of divorce, could even put Jerry Hall's reputed u30m claim in the shade.
The claimant in the latest case is businessman Rafael Lopez-Cambil, who is seeking a pay-off from his wife, 49-year-old Paloma Picasso, daughter of artist Pablo Picasso who, after inheriting a large slice of her fathers' fabulous wealth – and after success in the cosmetics world, is said to be worth in the region of u500m.
According to recent reports the target figure in the pending case, which is expected to last at least three months, is something in the region of u250m.
Even a percentage of that could eclipse pay-outs such as the u10m that Mr Justice Wilson ordered Terence Conran to pay to his wife, or the u32m that Daimler car heir, Muck Flick, eventually had to pay his ex-wife Donatella, after a battle in the High Court.
Argentinian born Lopez-Cambil, 51, gave up a promising career with the theatre to marry Paloma in 1978, and to then promote and market her business.
Paloma herself has described him as the "architect" of her career.
Quite apart from cash, the legal battle is expected to centre on claims in respect of many priceless works of art owned by Paloma, including 2,000 paintings and 7,000 drawings by her father.
Certainly the legal cast for this epic divorce battle is a star studded one. Paloma is to be represented by Barry Singleton QC and Nicholas Mostyn QC. Lopez-Cambil has Paul Coleridge QC, and the Picasso estate is to be represented by Florence Bacon QC.
Quite apart from the predictions that the case will set new records as far as divorce pay-offs in the UK are concerned, the wealth of legal talent involved in this matter – which is expected to drag on – looks set to ensure a record for legal costs for the Family Division as well.