Formula 1 heiress Tamara Ecclestone has lost a High Court custody battle over a £380,000 Lamborghini Aventador.
The 29-year-old socialite daughter of Bernie Ecclestone purchased the rare Aventador sports car in April 2012. According to her ex-boyfriend, Omar Khyami, she gave it to him as gift for his birthday.
In April last year, the Lamborghini was collected from a London pound, where it had been taken while away for a service, and turned up in a garage controlled by Elite Performance Cars Ltd, from whom Ms Ecclestone - who is now expecting a child with husband Jay Rutland - had originally bought it.
Mr Khyami had borrowed money from Elite and given the Lamborghini as security for the loan but Ms Ecclestone said Mr Khyami did not own the car and began proceedings for its return.
The Lamborghini was then sold to Ansol Trading Ltd by Elite, whose case was that it was entitled to do so as it had a security over the car.
Ansol said it was an innocent party but agreed not to sell the car - which is currently being stored at Biggin Hill by Ms Ecclestone's father - although it had found a Turkish buyer, pending the court case.
In November, Paul Lowenstein QC told the court in London that, if there was no valid transfer between Mr Khyami - who was no longer a party to the litigation - and Elite, the claims brought by Elite and Ansol ended there.
Elite's counsel, Roger Masefield QC, said that as Ms Ecclestone had decided to advance “no positive case” that the car was hers rather than a gift and to advance no claim against Elite or Ansol, she was liable to pay damages for losses sustained from April 2013, when she launched proceedings.
He said that Elite had been struggling to keep going as a business because of publicity surrounding the case and asked for £415,000 in damages.
Nick de Marco, Ansol's counsel, said it wanted the car formally handed over plus £15,000 damages and a sum representing its reduction in value.
Today, the judge said that Elite was entitled to £7,500 damages and Ansol was the owner of the car and entitled to its delivery up. He awarded Ansol £15,000 damages plus interest on the cost of the car from the time when they should have had it until it is handed over.
He ruled that the car was a gift from Ms Ecclestone to Mr Khyami, who transferred possession and title to Elite in part satisfaction of his debt, and Elite transferred title to Ansol.
He said: “Ms Ecclestone's conduct was wrongful and interfered with title and possession by Elite and Ansol by interfering with sales made by Elite and Ansol, and by removing the car, and by preventing dealings with the proceeds of the sale of the car.”
A spokesman for Ms Ecclestone said later: “The judge was correct when he said the car had been more trouble than its worth and this has been a difficult time for Tamara and her family. Tamara thanks everyone for their support and it is now time to focus on the future and positive times ahead.” Additional reporting by Press Association