Published: 05:20 EDT, 18 October 2020 | Updated: 05:34 EDT, 18 October 2020
The estranged wife of advertising tycoon Sir Martin Sorrell has claimed she ‘totally lost’ her identity during their relationship – and insists marrying a rich man is ‘double the work’.
Italian corporate adviser Cristiana Falcone, 47, announced she is seeking a divorce from Sir Martin, 75, after 12 years of marriage in February – almost three years after he was accused of visiting a £300 prostitute in a Mayfair brothel.
The couple married in 2008 and have a three-year-old daughter, Bianca. Falcone could now become one of Britain’s richest woman after splitting from Sir Martin, who is worth an estimated £269million according to the Sunday Times Rich List.
Speaking to the Sunday Times today, Falcone said people would regularly assume she had given up her job – or ask why she was still working given her husband’s fortune.
Cristiana Falcone, the estranged wife of advertising tycoon Sir Martin Sorrell, pictured in 2009, has claimed she ‘totally lost’ her identity during their relationship – and insists marrying a rich man is ‘double the work’
‘I lost my identity [when I married] – it wasn’t superseded; I just totally lost it. Because I decided not to talk, someone else got my voice,’ she claimed, adding that she felt pigeonholed as ‘just a wife of’.
‘The assumption was that I wasn’t working… I am paying for that now. They put me in one category [wife], and this was my definition and I couldn’t get out of it.’
Their split comes two years after Sir Martin quit advertising giant WPP amid allegations of misconduct and bullying of staff as well as claims the firm had been investigating whether Sir Martin had spent £300 of company money on a Mayfair prostitute in June 2017.
In the wake of the scandal Sir Martin rubbished the claims – and dismissed any suggestion of marital problems.
Falcone said people would regularly assume she had given up her job – or ask why she was still working given her husband’s fortune. Pictured together in May 2014
Falcone, who has sat on the boards of cosmetics giant Revlon and the media company Viacom, was a media adviser for the World Economic Forum in Davos until earlier this year and called their marriage a ‘strategic partnership’.
The couple lived together in a £25million central London mansion and Sir Martin also has an expensive apartment in central New York that could form part of the multi-million pound divorce.
In 2005 Sir Martin paid a then record divorce settlement of £29million to his first wife Lady Sandra, with whom he shares three sons, after 33 years of marriage – three years later he married Falcone after the pair met in Davos.
As part of Sandra’s settlement, she was awarded a £3.25m London townhouse and two underground car parking spaces at Harrods. Sandra blamed Sir Martin’s obsession with work for the split, claiming she felt ‘marginalised’ and ‘dehumanised’.
In 2005 Sir Martin paid a then record divorce settlement of £29 million to his wife of 33 years, Lady Sandra (pictured). He went on to marry Cristiana Falcone in 2008
Sir Martin’s former homes in Knightsbridge (pictured) is understood to have formed part of his divorce settlement with his first wife lady Sandra
Lady Sandra was also awarded her ex-husband’s two spaces in the Harrods underground car park – worth £100,000 each
Falcone said she was won over by Sir Martin’s pursuit of her, which she said was ‘persistent’.
‘Who could ever deny Sir Martin? The guy was on me for three-and-a-half years,’ she recalled.
‘He’s a genius and he’s very charming – so after all that time, I finally said “OK”.’
After their marriage, Falcone told how a secretary revealed she and her colleagues wondered why Lady Sorrell ‘has to work’.
‘The woman thought, “I wish I would have married a rich man”, and I wanted to tell her, “Honey, it’s double the work”,’ Falcone told the Sunday Times.
Sir Martin has previously claimed Falcone made a ‘significant contribution’ to his success and wealth – which is estimated to have almost doubled during their marriage.
Sir Martin Sorrell, then WPP Group chief executive, arrives at an Idaho ad summit in 2009 with his now estranged wife Cristiana Falcone Sorrell. It later emerged the company was paying her expenses, which caused a major row with investors
The couple, who have announced their intention to divorce, lived together at this central London mansion, which is worth at least £25million
Sir Martin also owns an apartment in this block in Manhattan close to New York’s Empire State Building, which could also form part of any divorce deal
His pay deal at WPP was criticised in the past for including up to £247,000 a year to fly Falcone around the world with him on business trips.
The controversy led to one of many run-ins between him and WPP’s shareholders, who he told: ‘My wife has made and continues to make a significant contribution to what I do. What she does is extremely significant.’ But he later agreed to start paying her expenses personally.
Falcone said she did ‘everything she could’ to support him and the business, claiming she provided ‘the same service I would provide to the C-suite [executives] when I was working as an adviser’, adding: ‘I even chose his socks.’
Admitting their split is ‘quite painful’, Falcone said she’s determined to ‘move forward and fast’, especially when it comes to her career, having seen it stall as a result of her marriage and becoming a mother.
She said she wants Bianca to feel proud of her when she’s older, both as a parent and as a woman.
Sir Martin transformed WPP from a tiny manufacturer of shopping baskets into one of the world’s most powerful marketing agencies, worth more than £11billion. After quitting, he kept his entitlement to shares worth tens of millions of pounds – and his contract also allowed him to launch a rival immediately.
He left WPP in April 2018 following the allegations of personal misconduct. He revealed just six weeks after leaving that he was setting up S4 Capital, later taking the job title of ‘senior monk’ at MediaMonks after outbidding WPP for control of the digital production firm.
How workaholic Sir Martin Sorrell turned a wire shopping basket company into an advertising giant and took home up to £70MILLION-A-YEAR until he left under a cloud in 2018
Sir Martin Sorrell (pictured in 1990) transformed WPP from a small wire baskets company into the world’s largest advertising agency
Sir Martin Sorrell transformed WPP from a small wire baskets company into the world’s largest advertising agency – becoming the UK’s highest-paid businessman along the way and one of the most influential men in Britain.
Brought up as an only child – a brother died in childbirth – in a Jewish household in North London, Sorrell attended Cambridge and Harvard universities before entering the world of commerce.
He flew beneath the radar in his early years, but rose to prominence after being made finance boss of advertising firm Saatchi & Saatchi.
As he helped build it into a global giant, Sorrell became known as the ‘third Saatchi’ brother, after founders Maurice and Charles.
He then grabbed hold of WPP and was chief executive of WPP for more than three decades.
In those 30 years at the top of the world’s largest advertising agency he amassed a vast fortune.
But his years as one of Britain’s highest paid executives also gave him old little time – or inclination – to spend his cash, which over the years has been estimated at close to half a billion pounds.
A self-confessed workaholic, Sir Martin famously declared: ‘I don’t relax. I can’t even spell the word “hobby”.’
Sir Martin transformed WPP from a tiny manufacturer of shopping baskets into one of the world’s most powerful marketing agencies, worth more than £11billion
As WPP chief executive he created an advertising empire with 200,000 employees in 112 countries and a turnover of £15.3billion. Its success was reflected in his pay and bonuses, which totalled £70.4million in 2015 – then believed to be the highest pay package in British corporate history.
In the eight years before he left he pocketed more than £230million in pay and bonuses, and a long-term incentive scheme means he will receive another £20million from WPP over the next five years – despite his resignation and the misconduct inquiry.
Sorrell stepped down on April 14 2018, walking away with £20million in share options and he set up a new advertising firm S4 Capital.
A passionate campaigner for Remain in the EU referendum, he is a regular commentator on business affairs, regularly appearing on the BBC and in national newspapers.
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World news – GB – Martin Sorrell’s ex Cristiana Falcone warns against marrying rich men