Petra Ecclestone: Daddy's little rich girl

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Old 24-Jun-2011
Petra Ecclestone: Daddy's little rich girl

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She is so slight and quiet that were it not for her perfectly blow-dried hair, Smartie-sized diamond earrings and gold Rolex watch, you might think Petra Ecclestone was just another well-heeled London girl.

That would be quite a mistake, for this 22-year-old, who has never held down paid employment, is in the process of buying the kind of second home which would make a plutocrat green with envy.

Her first property, a magnificent Grade II listed house in Chelsea, cost 56 million (Dh332 million) and is still being renovated. Her new house in Los Angeles, The Manor in the Holmby Hills, is the most expensive in America, and will set her back a further 91 million.

Not to live in

Actually, she isn't even planning to live in this gigantic pile full-time because she doesn't want to relocate to America. It's too far from her comfort zone of London nightclubs Tramp and Annabels and her dear friends, such as Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.

"It's going to be a partial relocation," says Ecclestone's spokesman, Eliot Sandford. But then Ecclestone who collects 10,000 Hermes Birkin bags, Damien Hirst artwork and has five miniature dogs is quite a spending phenomenon.

The youngest daughter of Formula One tycoon Bernie is a beneficiary of a family trust, believed to be held in Switzerland and worth around 2.4 billion.

Although very close to her father, to whom she speaks every day, she is his polar opposite. He is, at 80, a workaholic who has amassed a huge fortune but has no time for any ostentation.

Ecclestone, though, is cut from rarer cloth. She counts shopping for vintage Alaia designs as bargain-hunting, and describes the large 80,000 diamond earrings given to her by fiance James Stunt as "cute". At their recent engagement party in Battersea, pop singer Rihanna was paid 250,000 to perform her fee presumably covered by the trust.

No jobs, no ambitions

Bernie, it is said, worried about how Petra, and her older sister Tamara, will handle such wealth.

"The trouble is that they have nothing to do with their lives, no jobs and no ambitions," says a friend of Bernie's. "At least this LA house will give Petra something to do."

But the house is a mish-mash of styles, also taking inspiration from the sweeping staircase in Gone With The Wind. There is parking for 100 cars, countless bedrooms, bathrooms and a bowling alley. And a whole floor for wardrobes.

Colossal wardrobe

Ecclestone, rather famously, has many clothes, too. An interviewer who was invited to her home marvelled at her colossal wardrobe room, only to be told breezily that these were just her casual clothes and that she kept her evening wear in the next room.

Next month or so Ecclestone is planning to launch a range of designer handbags titled Stark.

Let's hope it is more of a success than her menswear range, Form, which went bust after only 14 months despite considerable financial assistance from her doting father.

Despite Bernie's talk about his children being "level-headed", this should really come as no surprise because Ecclestone has been formidably spoiled.

For her 12th birthday, Bernie hired the boyband Damage to play, as she was a fan, and also paid several of the EastEnders cast to attend. It cost him 300,000. Ecclestone "came out" at the Crillon Ball in Paris and was given a 6,000 watch for her 16th birthday.

Art school

She was expensively educated at London's Francis Holland girls' school and then went to a crammer for A-levels. She won a place at London art school Central St Martins, but never took it up. Instead, there has been a countless round of parties, and a spot of modelling and charity work instead.

The Ecclestones' divorce, of course, was devastating for the girls, though their parents seemed the oddest of couples: Bernie tiny, stubborn and undemonstrative, Slavica a foot taller and brimming with jealousy and anger. The joke always told was that they were the same height when Bernie was standing on his wallet.

In an interview, Tamara said: "Just because you have money, it doesn't mean you don't go through the emotions everyone else does."

Gold digger

Bernie approves of Ecclestone's fiance, Chelsea-boy-about-town Stunt, because he's convinced he is not a gold digger. Stunt, whose father is a Tory Party donor and lives in Virginia Water, is known for being flash, spending up to 20,000 on champagne in nightclubs, and for his yellow Lamborghini with the numberplate S7UNT.

A friend set up the couple on a blind date and Ecclestone says she fell in love with him immediately. His current business is collecting wine, although he insists he is virtually teetotal, as is Ecclestone. She says, "I like to have dinner and watch TV. We both love EastEnders," and adds that they are both ready to settle down.

Theirs will be an almost impossibly gilded life, replete with butlers and all the rest. But you wonder what this charming, aimless young girl will find to do in her huge houses.

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