Ecclestone mugged outside his HQ for £200,000 of jewellery

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The Independent Online

Just weeks after he spoke out against London's street muggers, the billionaire Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone and his Brazilian girlfriend Fabiana Flosi have been attacked outside his Knightsbridge headquarters.

Mr Ecclestone, 80, had to be taken to hospital with a head injury after he was punched and kicked to the ground by a gang of four men. Jewellery worth £200,000 is believed to have been stolen from him and his girlfriend, including Mr Ecclestone's watch and a diamond ring. Ms Flosi, 31, was not injured.

No arrests have been made, but it is thought the gang may have been behind a string of targeted attacks on the rich and famous. "Police were called at 10.30pm on Wednesday 24 November to reports of a man and a woman robbed on Princes Gate," a Scotland Yard spokesman said. "The man was taken to a west London hospital for treatment to a minor head injury and was subsequently discharged. There were no reports of any other injuries. Officers from Westminster robbery squad are investigating.

"At this early stage it is believed a quantity of jewellery was stolen but we cannot disclose details of what was stolen as yet."

Mr Ecclestone was back at work the following morning, but showing a severely bruised right eye behind his black-rimmed spectacles.

The attack is a rather ironic vindication of comments he made in the wake of former F1 champion Jenson Button's car jacking in Sao Paolo before the Grand Prix three weeks ago.

"You have to remember we have a lot of problems in England, Oxford Street and places, and in New York people get mugged," Mr Ecclestone said at the time. "They look for victims, they look for anyone that looks like a soft touch and not too bright. They never go after them.

"The people that look a bit soft and simple, they will always have a go at."

His comments came after questions were raised about the continued staging of F1 in Brazil, which has a bad record for serious crime. Were it to be discontinued, his new girlfriend might find herself out of a job. Ms Flosi, a lawyer and model, is also Brazilian F1's vice-president of marketing for the country's Grand Prix.

The couple have known each other for some time but their relationship only began in earnest last October. Mr Ecclestone said at the time: "She's gorgeous but, forget everything else, she's a nice person – she has a good nature. On a scale of one to 10 about how positive I am of having a future with her, I hope it's 10 – but it's early days."

It has been reported that his daughters Tamara, 26, and Petra, 21, by his previous wife, Slavica, have refused to speak to Ms Flosi through solidarity with their mother.

Four years ago he was mugged as he parked his new Mercedes Benz outside his London mansion.

Should the stolen jewellery never be recovered, its value pales into insignificance when compared to the amount Mr Ecclestone lost in his divorce in March this year, made all the more costly by his unwise decision to place large amounts of his £2.4bn fortune in off-shore accounts in his wife's name, for tax purposes.

The settlement was was reported to be worth more than £1bn, with his ex-wife celebrating by taking delivery of a £36.5m private jet, allowing her to make more frequent visits to an orphanage she supports in Brazil.