Former Ritz Owner Barclay Must Pay Ex-Wife $139 Million

Frederick Barclay, who amassed a lucrative business empire with his late twin brother, was ordered to pay his former wife 100 million pounds ($139 million) as part of his London divorce.

The payout ranks among the highest to be made public by U.K. courts, where large settlements between the rich and famous are generally hashed out behind closed doors. It’s still someway behind the record 450 million pounds.

Hiroko Barclay, who had initially sought as much as 120 million pounds, will receive the funds in about a year, Judge Jonathan Cohen said in the ruling Wednesday following the breakdown of the couple’s 34-year marriage.

Former Ritz Owner Barclay Must Pay Ex-Wife $139 Million

London’s family courts are generally a sympathetic place for a high-stakes divorce battle, with judges prepared to order a more equal share of a couple’s assets. Frederick, 86, has been engaged in multiple legal fights and is separately suing his nephews after they bugged his conversations at their five-star Ritz Hotel in London. The trial in the case is expected to begin in the summer.

The nine figure sum is among the highest in U.K. divorce history. The largest ever divorce to go through a London court was between Russian billionaire Farkhad Akhmedov and his ex-wife, who was granted 450 million-pounds. That’s followed by the dispute between hedge-fund billionaire Chris Hohn and his ex wife, who was awarded 36%, or $530 million, of the couple’s $1.5 billion marital estate.

Barclay “is a public figure who should have been aware of the potential consequences of disobedience of court orders and his behavior in the proceedings should not be allowed to pass completely under the radar,” Cohen said in his ruling.


The lawsuits have opened a window into the relationship between the publicity-shy twins whose investments put them among the top ranks of the U.K.’s rich and powerful. The brothers spent decades avoiding media attention by isolating themselves on an island in the middle of the English Channel. While David died in January, the Barclay clan still controls the Daily Telegraph newspaper and other businesses.

During the court proceedings, which have been running behind closed doors since October 2019, Frederick orchestrated the sale of his luxury yacht and “applied the equity for his own use,” Cohen said. “I regarded that behavior as reprehensible.”

He was also criticized for ignoring court orders to produce documents or answer questions specifically in regards to loan notes he argued he was entitled to. It led to the case being put back by nine months and were “serious acts of omission,” the judge said.

Frederick had argued that there should be no publication of the ruling. But his former wife said the family is in the “public eye.” Cohen said the public has a right to know of the way he has behaved, and that it was his behavior that removed his right to privacy.

“I am saddened that after 34 years my marriage has come to an end,” Frederick Barclay said through his lawyers after the ruling. “This was not something I wanted.”

Lawyers for Hiroko Barclay couldn’t immediately be reached by phone or email.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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