François-Henri Pinault, the billionaire father of Linda Evangelista’s baby, wanted her to abort their son, her lawyer has claimed as the supermodel meets her former boyfriend in court over childcare support.
Taking the stand, François-Henri Pinault admitted he had broken up with Linda Evangelista after discovering she was pregnant four months into their relationship.
“I didn’t even know her,” he said.
The bitter trial, which kicked off on Thursday and is expected to last four days, is set to spell out the childcare obligations of François-Henri Pinault, who is now married to Hollywood actress Salma Hayek.
Linda Evangelista gave birth to their son Augie, now 5, after her short relationship with François-Henri Pinault, and has claimed in the run-up to the trial that she wants a staggering $46,000 a month for his care.
The supermodel claimed the vast sum is to cover the youngster’s around-the-clock nanny, at a cost of $7,000 a month, and armed drivers, costing as much as $16,000 a month, the New York Post reported.
François-Henri Pinault had criticized Linda Evangelista for her outlandish demands, suggesting the money was in fact for “mom support”.
The supermodel maintained she was modeling or working on her image at all hours of the day.
In a move that shows they are readying for a bitter feud, Linda Evangelista’s lawyer William Beslow recounted a conversation the former couple shared in January 2006.
“After some initial happiness, he told her he wished she would terminate the pregnancy,” William Beslow told a support magistrate.
Linda Evangelista, who was then in her early 40s, told François-Henri Pinault she would keep the baby, the Post reported.
“She would support the child herself, since he had made it perfectly clear to her that he had no interest in doing so. And she did.”
Arriving at court, Linda Evangelista, 46, looked ready for business, dressed in a smart floral-print shirt, knee-length black skirt and sunglasses, with her hair cut into a sleek bob.
François-Henri Pinault, who began dating Salma Hayak while Linda Evangelista was pregnant, watched his former girlfriend with a bemused smile, the Post reported.
As he took the witness stand, François-Henri Pinault said he found out she was pregnant in early 2006 and admitted he broke up with her on hearing the news.
“She was so happy to be pregnant,” he said.
“But it was not planned. I decided to stop the relationship at that point.”
François-Henri Pinault added: “We were dating four months and I didn’t even know her very much.”
He went on to say he believed she had intentionally become pregnant and that he had no part in deciding whether she should keep the baby or not.
He added: “I told her I would recognize the baby, which I did. I would take my responsibility and I did.”
Asked why he didn’t pay Linda Evangelista anything in child support for the first years of Augie’s life, François-Henri Pinault answered: “She didn’t ask and I didn’t offer.”
François-Henri Pinault, 49, is chief executive of PPR, the conglomerate that owns Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci and Bottega Veneta. He has an annual income as he is heir to an $11.5 billion family estate.
In opening statements on Thursday, William Beslow insisted Linda Evangelista is not hoping to improve her station in life but that she has paid all of his expenses without a single cent from François-Henri Pinault.
“Ms. Evangelista is not looking to piggyback on the lifestyle of Mr. Pinault,” William Beslow added.
“She is looking for a continuation of the reasonable lifestyle of Augie.”
François-Henri Pinault’s lawyer, David Aronson, argued that his client had repeatedly reach out to Linda Evangelista’s prior lawyers about child support payments, only to be met with silence.
David Aronson added: “Most of the expenses do not relate to Augie but they relate to Ms. Evangelista.”
He continued: “These people have more money than a lot of people. But our position is that what we understand is being asked for is just ridiculous.”
Linda Evangelista is due to testify in the trial tomorrow. If she is granted the $46,000 of her demands, it will shatter records for childcare payouts.
“I need to protect him,” Linda Evangelista told Love magazine in February.
Last year a judge questioned the model’s need for full-time nannies, asking how often she worked.
“When I work, it can be a 16-hour day,” the supermodel said.
“On days when I do not work, I am working on my image. I have to hit the gym. I have beauty appointments. I have to work toward my next job and maintaining my image, just like an athlete.”
Linda Evangelista, herself worth $8 million, is also demanding François-Henri Pinault give her son a home similar to the $13 million California mansion he put in a trust for his and Salma Hayek’s four-year-old daughter, Valentina.
François-Henri Pinault’s family estate includes the Christie’s auction house, the Château-Latour vineyard in Bordeaux and the French Premiere League football team Stade Rennais, the Daily News reported.
Earlier this week, Manhattan divorce lawyer Raoul Felder said the eye-watering payout – which comes to $1,500 a day – was unlikely.
He pointed out that judges consider how much it costs to care for a child, rather than the wealth of the parents.
“She’s in for a big surprise. I wouldn’t be counting the money yet,” Raoul Felder told the New York Daily News.
Linda Evangelista is worth $8 million and owns a penthouse in the desirable Chelsea, New York and an apartment near her son’s school on the upper East Side.
The supermodel broke up with billionaire and Hard Rock Cafe co-founder Peter Morton last year and filed her case against François-Henri Pinault shortly after the break up.
Since, François-Henri Pinault has been paying child support – although the amount has not been disclosed.
The couple dated from September 2005 until January 2006, and she was pregnant with Augie when François-Henri Pinault began dating Salma Hayek in April 2006.
François-Henri Pinault and Salma Hayek married in 2009.
Linda Evangelista had kept the name of Augie’s father secret until it was written in court papers filed in August.