Bernie Ecclestone: 'They're worth millions – but my girls spend too much on shoes'

 

Bernie Ecclestone might have made £2.5bn from Formula One, but he doesn't seem to have forgotten the value of money.

His daughters, Tamara and Petra, are famous for spending his fortune on fast cars, mansions and designer clothing, but their father says they should have got the red light.

"I don't think they should have bought handbags and shoes but anyway, they are in the fortunate position of being able to," the tycoon told The Independent over lunch in the café above the Armani store in London's Knightsbridge.

Tamara and Petra are both in their 20s and are Ecclestone's children from his second marriage to Slavica, a statuesque Croatian who towered nearly a foot over him. When the girls hit 18 they got access to the money which had been held for them in a family trust in Liechtenstein. They are burning through it at quite a rate.

Tamara lives in a £45m pile in Kensington and appeared in her own TV series, Billion $$ Girl, which showed her taking her dogs to an exclusive pet spa for facials.

Petra's pad in London is a £56m grade II-listed Georgian townhouse, and last year she bought a 14-bedroom mansion in Los Angeles previously owned by Candy Spelling, wife of the late Aaron Spelling who created television shows Charlie's Angels and Dynasty. At 57,000 square feet it is bigger than the White House and has its own bowling alley and a 100-car garage.

"I said to Tamara, my God I can't imagine living in a house that big, but she spent two months there and she said it doesn't seem that big," says Ecclestone. He adds: "I was having dinner with Tamara on Sunday night and she was saying that with all the changes Petra has made, the house is worth a hell of a lot. It was an old Hollywood-style house. She has made it a house to live in."

Ecclestone does not approve of the girls' spending habits, but justifies it by saying "actually, all the properties that my daughters have bought they could sell today for big profits so any handbags and shoes they have bought fall into insignificance".

He contacted British property tycoon Nick Candy, who told him that Petra could make an immediate profit by selling her London home, and although her LA mansion cost just over £50m, it was on the market at £92m. "I was told by people that it was very cheap," he says.

He adds that both of his daughters "work bloody hard". Petra has a business which designed menswear and has now moved into handbags, whilst Tamara raises funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital.

"Tamara works all the time and has gone up to New York now to promote this shampoo thing she is doing. She does a lot of charity work which people don't give her any credit for," he says.

Despite his wealth, Ecclestone does not live a billionaire lifestyle. He has just turned 82, but still works five days a week from nine to five and lives in a modest apartment above his office opposite Hyde Park.

In 2009, after his marriage to Slavica ended, Ecclestone began dating Fabiana Flosi, a Brazilian lawyer 46 years his junior. They married in August, but the ceremony passed without much notice.

Fabiana told The Independent that "the wedding was very low key" – even though it was held at Le Lion, Ecclestone's £23m chalet in the Swiss resort of Gstaad.

Only a handful of Ecclestone's closest friends attended the ceremony, which took place while Tamara and Petra were in America.

It is a far cry from Petra's nuptials last summer, a £12m splurge at an Italian castle with 350 guests including Eric Clapton and hip hop band The Black Eyed Peas.

Her father's wedding is thought to have cost around 500 times less.

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