‘I am not sure what happiness is’: Formula 1 tycoon Bernie Ecclestone admits fame and fortune have not brought him joy
Formula 1 tycoon Bernie Ecclestone has admitted that he has never experienced happiness.
The 82-year-old is worth an estimated £3billion, but claims that his fame and fortune have not bought him joy.
‘I am not sure what happiness is. What do those feelings mean? I have experienced satisfaction when I have planned something and it has come off. But happiness? I am not so sure,’ he said in a Times2 interview.
The billionaire gave his daughter Tamara, 28, away earlier this month when she married in South of France.
But he told the newspaper that he did not even celebrate her nuptials.
‘I didn’t go to the celebrations the next day. I went home. I was there for a job and was happy to do that. I didn’t want to hang around. The whole thing was a huge affair, too much really. But I didn’t pay for it. My ex-wife did.’
In 2009 Bernie and his wife of 23 years Slavica split up.
Slavica, 55, topped the Sunday Times’ Rich List in the ‘richest divorcees’ category after she was awarded an estimated £740million in 2009 in the divorce – it ended on the grounds of his ‘unreasonable behaviour’.
Last year Ecclestone remarried Brazilian marketing director Fabiana Flosi, 35, at Le Lion, his £23million chalet in the exclusive resort of Gstaad.
The wedding was the third trip down the aisle for the octogenarian, who vowed to ‘remain single for the rest of his life
His daughters, remain fiercely loyal to their mother but are at least partly recoisnciled to Flosi’s arrival.
An elusive character, at 5ft 3in tall, Ecclestone is instantly recognisable, mop-haired and squinting slightly behind John Lennon glasses.
Ecclestone sleeps six-and-a-half hours a night and works ferociously hard when he is awake.
In the interview Ecclestone touched on the prospect of facing up 10 years in prison – he has been charged with bribery by German prosecutors.
‘If I get sent to jail I will have to deal with it. But I don’t think I will like it very much,’ he told the newspaper.
The charge, and a separate indictment of breach of fiduciary duty, relates to the sale in 2006 of Formula One by German bank Bayern LB to CVC Capital partners.
Bayern’s former chief risk officer, Gerhard Gribkowsky, is serving an eight-and-a-half-year sentence after confessing last June to accepting a £28million bribe.
And according to Munich daily Suddeutsche Zeitung, German authorities allege Ecclestone was responsible for the payment.
The suggestion is that the money was paid to ensure Formula One was sold, without updating its value, to a company which would retain Ecclestone as the sport’s most powerful figure.
Ecclestone, denies any wrongdoing, insisting he paid the money after being ‘shaken down’ by Gribkowsky who he claims had threatened to make trouble for him with the Inland Revenue.
He currently has one of Germany’s top law firms, Thomas Deckers Wehnert Elsner, and his usual team of lawyers in England working for him on the case.
The defence sticks to its view that Mr Ecclestone has neither committed bribery nor played any part in committing a fiduciary breach of trust.
Under German law, charging someone does not necessitate the case will immediately go to trial.
Once a person is indicted, the case is transferred to the courts where a judge will determine if the evidence warrants a trial.
Should Ecclestone be charged and face a trial, it would likely take place later this year, and that would immediately draw into question his position as head of F1.
Aware of the circumstances, in December Ecclestone remarked: ‘They (CVC) will probably be forced to get rid of me if the Germans come after me. It’s pretty obvious if I’m locked up.’