Just as things were getting really nasty, Christie Brinkley decided to spare the world further revelations about her fourth husband, his affair with a teenage employee, and that £2,000-a-month internet porn habit.
The former supermodel's lurid divorce hearing came to an abrupt end yesterday, after lawyers agreed an out-of-court settlement that allows Ms Brinkley to retain the lion's share of the couple's wealth, and custody of their two children.
After all-night talks, in which both parties sat in separate rooms and negotiators shuffled between them, Ms Brinkley and her estranged husband, Peter Cook, told a New York court they had "resolved" all of the remaining issues between them.
Under the agreement, Ms Brinkley will give Mr Cook $2.1m (£1.06m), but keep a portfolio of 18 disputed properties on Long Island, where the couple were members of the exclusive Hamptons set. Mr Cook will get "parenting time" with the children, in an arrangement mutually satisfactory to both parties. The rest of the settlement will remain confidential, the lawyers said.
"It's to me a very bittersweet moment because it really is the death of a marriage," Ms Brinkley, 54, said outside the court. "I'm very pleased with the results today. I was here fighting for custody." Mr Cook described the deal as "everything I asked for".
The hearing, which was in its sixth day, had already scandalised New York society after Ms Brinkley told the court how she had found out that Mr Cook, her husband of 10 years, had been having an affair with his 18-year-old assistant, Diana Bianchi. The former Sports Illustrated swimwear model said the girl's stepfather, a police officer, had confronted her at a high school graduation ceremony where she was guest speaker, saying: "That husband of yours won't knock it off. He's having an affair with my teenage daughter."
The court was also told Mr Cook, 49, spent £1,800 a month on internet pornography. His lawyer claimed he and his wife had used it to get themselves in the mood for sex. But Ms Brinkley said her husband visited sex websites to "try to connect with people".
Mr Cook had paid Ms Bianchi hundreds of thousands of dollars while she was his mistress, and had sex at Mr Cook's architectural practice, and in homes and on boats Ms Brinkley owned.
Lawyers for both parties had stoked more public interest by taking the battle to the TV studios. Mr Cook's attorney, Robert Stephan Cohen, said that by Ms Brinkley insisting the case was heard in open court – with the world's media given a ring-side seat – she was behaving like a woman scorned.
The factors that really caused the surprise settlement were not clear, but the public nature of the case cannot have been doing much good to the couple's children, Sailor, 10, and Jack 13.
On Tuesday a court-appointed psychiatrist had also effectively ruled in Ms Brinkley's favour in one of the key elements of the case, saying that she should be granted custody.
Dr Stephen Herman said Mr Cook deserved liberal access to the children, but added that both parents were in need of counselling to deal with their personal issues.Reuse content