|‘Black Jack’ Dellal’s Wife Demands £400 Million of His Fortune|
When the property magnate and bon viveur, Jack “Black Jack” Dellal, left assets worth £15.4 million to his widow, one might have thought that was generous.
However, Ruanne Dellal, 61, who was married to him for 15 years, says he was worth at least £400 million and robbed her of a fair share of his fortune.
Mrs. Dellal is asking the High Court to award her at least £50 million, saying he failed to make “reasonable provision” for her in his will.
She says she is a victim of Dellal’s obsession with “favouring his own blood relations over those he happened to marry”. Despite years of high-rolling gambling, Jack’s fortune was estimated £500 million in the year before he died.
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By the time he died, his wealth had “mysteriously shrunk” to the £15.4 million in assets he bequeathed to his widow.
She says that was because of enormous gifts he lavished in his final years on his sister, Violet, 96, and six children from previous relationships.
Mrs. Dellal estimates her own worth at over £41 million, including art and jewellery, two properties in central London and one in Hampshire. She claims that four years before Dellal’s death, they came close to agreeing a post-nuptial agreement to guarantee her close to £50 million. Mrs. Dellal says the assets she was left — mostly properties, none of them income bearing — were not enough to maintain her in the lifestyle she was entitled to expect.
Dellal’s sister and the six children are fighting the case, saying that he left his widow extremely rich and that she is due not a penny more.
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In a preliminary ruling, Mr. Justice Mostyn described Dellal’s career as a property wheeler-dealer as “legendary”. Born in Chorlton, Manchester, and educated at Heaton Moor College, he sold his first company, a Knightsbridge-based “fringe bank”, for £58 million in the Seventies. As his fortune grew his property deals included the sale of London’s iconic Shell-Mex House in 2007 for £490 million, making a profit of £163 million.
His golden touch in business was not matched by his luck at the gaming tables, where he lost millions. He was said to have dropped £1.7 million in just one night in 2006.
He had nine children — eight surviving — two by his widow, four from a previous marriage and two more by a “non-marital relationship”, the judge said.
Dellal signed his will in November 2006, six years before his death, leaving everything he had to his widow, whom he married in 1997 after 10 years of cohabitation.
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The court heard that, by the time he died, that came to £15.4 million, and his widow believed him to be worth.
Robert Miles QC, for Mrs. Dellal, argued that her husband must have given away the vast bulk of his fortune to his blood relations without his wife’s knowledge.
The widow is asking the court to unscramble any gifts he made in the six years before his death so that she can be reasonably provided for.
Lawyers for the six children and Violet said that, given her own wealth, Mrs Dellal’s case was “extraordinarily weak” and should be terminated.
Mr. Justice Mostyn has refused and says he wants to analyse more evidence, saying it would be “unjust” to block her claim at this stage. He agreed that the evidence of what Dellal did with his fortune was “thin indeed”, but said Mrs. Dellal had an arguable case that Dellal “had access to very considerable resources” before his death.
The opinions expressed do not constitute investment advice and specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
Published on our website on Apr.2, 2015