The former wife of a millionaire tycoon who faces a six-week jail sentence after failing to pay her maintenance from their £5.8 million divorce battle says she hasn’t received a penny from him since their acrimonious split.
Preston Haskell, a Texan and the son of a construction mogul of the same name, is embroiled in a five-year divorce row with the model Alesia Vladimirovna Haskell, which has reached the Court of Appeal in London.
Judges heard that the son who hosted parties for Elton John, Madonna and Cheryl Cole had himself amassed a fortune in property, restaurants and international business, and in 2013 was linked with a bid to buy Coventry City Football Club.
Mr. Haskell was ordered to pay Alesia £5.8million after their 13-year marriage ended in 2016. The first installment was due in February 2020, but when he failed to pay a High Court judge has jailed him for six weeks if he ever returns to the UK.
Now Alesia has broken her silence to reveal her heartache over her bitter five-year battle with the property mogul after she accused him of serial infidelity and cocaine and alcohol abuse.
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, she said: ‘I’ve been relying on friends to help out and get by. I have run out of money. I am out of options. Even the rent and bills he claimed to have paid in court have not been paid by him, they were sorted out by his family. He hasn’t paid me a penny.’
Alesia, who is a model from Belarus, but now resides in upmarket Kensington, south-west London, insisted that Mr. Justice Moor’s ruling that Mr. Haskell’s failure to pay her was in contempt of court and decision to impose a six-week prison sentence in his absence if he did not pay within 14 days would have little effect on him.
‘The judgment doesn’t mean anything because he has never paid anything before or met any ultimatum,’ she said. ‘The 14-day deadline passed and he didn’t do anything.
‘He’s not afraid of going to jail because he has no plans to come here and doesn’t own any properties here so he has no reason to come. I’m relying on the help of friends and his family but not him.
‘I don’t have any more money to fight legal battles in other countries where he has assets. He has never paid to date and now that we have had the hearing in the Court of Appeal, I have got nowhere else to turn.’
Scrabbling around to pay the utility bills and relying on friends for help is a far cry from the luxury lifestyle the couple enjoyed during their marriage.
The court was told Haskell spent nearly £1 million on a New Year’s Eve party in 2012, while at another event celebrity guests were given coded gold wristbands as entry passes.
The couple met in Moscow in 2003 but later moved to London, where they rented a £3.3 million flat in Sloane Street. Alesia, who is Belarusian, was a member of the exclusive 5 Hertford Street club.
However, the couple split amid allegations about Haskell’s infidelity, drinking and drug abuse.
The judge had to add up the value of the couple’s assets and how much Mr. Haskell – should pay in maintenance, and said the tycoon had even asked him to weigh his ex’s engagement ring in the balance.
But the judge told the court: ‘I do not take into account any value of the wife’s engagement ring. The husband was very keen that I should do so asserting that it was worth perhaps £100,000.
‘It is bordering on the grotesque that the husband should be expecting the wife to liquidate this ring.’
He found that Mr. Haskell’s finances were ‘opaque’ and noted the string of businesses and properties he owns – or is linked to – around the world.
These included a South African winery and a ‘magnificent’ £6.5million villa in Cape Town, plus another high-end villa in Johannesburg.
He bought the 57-acre vineyard in 2002 in Stellenbosch and turned it into a winery, restaurant and guest accommodation under the name Haskell Vineyards.
‘The villa in Cape Town is an outstanding property with views over the ocean,’ added the judge.
Mr. Haskell had complained that he was in a dire financial position and was unable to get his hands on cash, telling the judge: ‘I have no money at all.’
The real estate boss – once reputedly worth £160million – claimed to have ‘liabilities’ of £50million and to be struggling to meet his maintenance commitments.
However, Mr. Justice Mostyn decided Mr. Haskell could get his hands on sufficient funds to pay his ex £5.8million to conclude their divorce.
Other overseas interests include a stake in a Swedish gold exploration company, part of a building in Kiev, land in Crimea, part of a business in Romania, and elegant property in the Swedish Archipelago complete with a motor yacht.
He also highlighted social media posts from Mr. Haskell in which he was shown speaking about his ‘beautiful year’ and posing with a £400 bottle of vintage red wine.
Giving him two years’ ‘breathing space’ to get his finances on track, he said the final installment of the bill should be paid by March 2022.
But it was his failure to pay the first £50,000 installment in February 2020 which triggered his ex’s bid to have him jailed for contempt of court if he did not pay up.
With Mr. Haskell now overseas, the case came before Mr. Justice Moor in the High Court in May and ended with the judge finding Mr. Haskell had ‘entirely set his heart against complying with these court orders other than on his terms’.
‘I am, however, quite clear that he has had, since the date of the order, the means to pay the £50,000 as the first installment of the lump sum, and that he has refused or neglected to do so,’ the judge commented.
Mr. Haskell was handed the prison sentence by Mr. Justice Moor, but last week claimed through his legal team at the Court of Appeal that the judge got it wrong.
His ex-wife had herself confirmed he had paid out various sums since February 2020, but could not say how much and had not filed any evidence to update the situation, said his solicitor Adam Tear.
And as Mr. Haskell was her source of income, she must have received large amounts from him to enable her to keep paying the £6,000-a-month rent on her Sloane Street apartment, he argued.
‘As such, without updating evidence, the judge could never have been sure at all even on the balance of probabilities, if the sum had not been discharged by February 2020, it had not been discharged since that time,’ said Mr. Tear.
‘On the circumstantial evidence, the judge was bound to conclude that the respondent, whose own source of resource was Mr. Haskell, must have received considerable sums of money from him or on his behalf to pay rent, and other costs that have been incurred.
‘The respondent gave no evidence of borrowing money, or other sources of income, not declared in the matrimonial.’
Rejecting his challenge and upholding the prison sentence, Lord Justice Underhill said: ‘The judge was fully entitled to conclude to the criminal standard that £50,000 was still outstanding.’