A bitter battle involving a Cesc Fabregas, a London property tycoon and his Lebanese ex-wife has reached the Court of Appeal.
Elie Taktouk, 38, objects to having to shell out for a home for Daniella Semaan when her new boyfriend, Barcelona midfielder Fabregas, has millions to lavish on her.
Photographs appeared of 38-year-old Miss Semaan on holiday with the former Arsenal hero in Italy emerged months after the couple had divorced. She gave birth to Fabregas’ baby girl, Lia, while he was on the pitch in a Champions League quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain two weeks ago.
Mr Taktouk claims that, whilst their divorce was going through, Miss Semaan under-stated the financial support she will now get from Fabregas – who is believed to earn £5million-a-year at the Nou Camp.
Her evidence led to top judge, Mr Justice Coleridge, ruling that the £7m flat where the former couple lived in Belgravia should be sold. The profit, with a top-up payment from Mr Taktouk, would provide the £1.4m Miss Semaan needs for a new home.
But the case took an ‘extraordinary’ twist when a company controlled by Fabregas put in a bid for the Grade II-listed Upper Belgrave Street flat, offering about £5.4m, the Court of Appeal has heard.
Mr Taktouk says it could mean his ex-wife having her cake and eating it – being allowed to stay in the flat if Fabregas buys it, but with £1.4m in her pocket.
His barrister, Stephen Lyon, told the Court of Appeal that Miss Semaan had argued that Fabregas’ obligations were only to their child, and not her.
All she received from him were the price of getting to Barcelona from London when she visits and then being looked after by the footballer while there.
‘Mr Fabregas, we say, is quite clearly a resource of far greater significance than the wife let on in the course of her evidence,’ claimed Mr Lyon.
‘We say it is rather extraordinary that, less than three weeks after judgment was handed down, through his company in Barcelona he was offering to purchase (the flat).
‘What would happen is she would remain in occupation with £1.4m in the bank, which was not the intention of Mr Justice Coleridge.
‘It is quite clear from the judgment that the broad thrust of his assessment was that Mr Fabregas was a wealthy boyfriend who provided her with funds when she was in Barcelona, paid for taxis, flights, and expensive presents.
‘He is clearly a resource of far greater significance. Had Mr Justice Coleridge known that, the outcome might well have been a different one.’
The court heard that Mr Taktouk had previously claimed that the flat was not theirs, but actually ultimately owned by his wealthy father.
Mr Justice Coleridge said he was convinced that the father had provided substantial financial help to his son in the past and would do so again in the future.
However, although Fabregas could be expected to pay to support the baby girl born earlier this month, his long-term support of Miss Semaan could not be guaranteed.
Lord Justice Jackson told the Court of Appeal that Mr Taktouk had no arguable grounds on which to argue that Mr Justice Coleridge’s assessment of the wife’s financial position was wrong.
‘Even if the company controlled by Mr Fabregas buys the former matrimonial home, this will still not be a property which the wife owns.
‘She will live there only by the permission of Mr Fabregas and the fact that his company has made an offer – an insufficient offer, it would seem – does not materially change the facts as they were before Mr Justice Coleridge.’
Mr Taktouk and Miss Semaan married when they were 24 and living in Lebanon. They had two children, a boy and a girl, before their divorce.
The World Cup-winning former Arsenal captain transferred to Barcelona in a £25 million move in 2011, taking him back to the club where he began his career.