Family feud leads to judgment worth £149m
A FAMILY feud involving a society princess, her film star mother and her estranged sister, who once described their lifestyle as a ‘golden hell’, has resulted in a Royal Court judgment of about £149 million.
Following years of hearings and a trial that lasted almost three months, the court found in favour of estranged sister Cristiana Crociani and her two daughters, Delia and Livia Delrieu.
The trio had made a series of claims related to a Bahamian trust known as the Grand Trust, which was originally settled in 1987 by film actress Edoarda Vesel Crociani, for the benefit of Cristiana and her sister Camilla – now Princess Camilla de Bourbon des Deux Siciles – and their children.
The trust was made up of a valuable portfolio of investments, various receivables and works of art, and once reconstituted, as the Royal Court has ordered, is expected to be worth $200 million – about £149 million.
However, it was found that Cristiana and her daughters had been excluded from the benefits of the trust, which she perceived as having been diverted in secret in favour of her sister Camilla.
The complex case involved numerous advisers, intermediaries, structures, family members and assets in jurisdictions including Italy, Holland, the Bahamas, Mauritius, the US and Jersey.
Advocate Anthony Robinson, from Jersey law firm Bedell Cristin, which represented Cristiana and her daughters, said: ‘The decision from the Royal Court after years of litigation is a significant one.
'Not only did the case involve claims of high value, it was also hugely complex, involving difficult family dynamics and issues in a number of different jurisdictions,’ he said.
‘The outcome reflects the dedication, expertise and high standards of professionalism of our litigation team, and underlines that Jersey is a robust and effective jurisdiction with excellent case management.’
Cristiana also praised her legal team, which included Advocate Edward Drummond and Sonia Shah, for their ‘thorough, proactive and relentless’ pursuit of the case.
The judgment says that underlying the litigation is the story of the breakdown of the relationship between Cristiana and her mother Edoarda – the widow of a wealthy Italian industrialist – and her sister Camilla, who it says ‘in happier times were a close-knit family’.
The Royal Court found that Edoarda had a ‘need to control’ that extended to her own family and meant that despite her daughters being grown up, the family all lived together with her in one apartment in Monaco with little privacy or independence.
The judgment adds: ‘They had a very luxurious and glamorous lifestyle, but it came at a price. Cristiana has described it as “a golden hell”.’
It says: ‘Cristiana clearly found her mother intimidating, a person who she felt she could not challenge, and of whom she lived in some fear, whilst at the same time having complete trust in her on financial matters; that juxtaposition of fear and trust in a family relationship was understandable to us.
‘With hindsight, she [Cristiana] acknowledged that she should have probed and questioned more, but that is the way it was, and we believe her.’
Neither Edoarda nor Camilla gave evidence to or were represented at the trial, and the Royal Court concluded they had deliberately decided to stay away.
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