Facelift addict's $140,000 a month alimony

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IN THE latest twist in New York's most closely watched divorce struggle in years, the millionaire art dealer Alec Wildenstein has been ordered by an appeal court to pay out the full $140,000 (pounds 88,000) that he owes in monthly support payments to his estranged wife, the surgically enhanced Jocelyne.

With the divorce trial itself still pending, Mr Wildenstein had attempted to persuade the court that he could not afford the sum that had been imposed upon him by a lower court. The Jocelyne camp had retorted, however, that given the lifestyle she had been accustomed to she could not live on anything less.

In siding with Jocelyne, whose startling features are testament to repeated visits to her plastic surgeon, the panel of five justices said Mr Wildenstein, 58, had displayed an "evident lack of candour" about his real income. Mr Wildenstein had attempted to argue that most of his money actually belonged to his father, Daniel Wildenstein, who still heads the family art dealing empire in Paris.

Bernard Clair, Ms Wildenstein's lawyer, said his client was "purring" about the court's ruling. "What this decision does is confirm that he should support his wife of 20 years according to his means," he said.

He added: "On a practical level, this sum of money does approximate the lifestyle enjoyed by my client". In his arguments, Mr Clair had pointed out that the couple typically spent more than $10m a year together until they split in 1996.

Dubbed the "Bride of Wildenstein" by New York tabloids because of her weirdly stretched visage, Jocelyne will take heart from the court's ruling as the full divorce trial looms.