FCUK divorce: fashion chain boss loses shirt in split

IF anyone could be forgiven for saying "FCUK IT," it has to be Stephen Marks. The founder of French Connection fashion chain has not only lost his wife to divorce but, as a result, he has also lost control of his company.

For once, his business acumen seems to have deserted him as former fashion journalist Alisa Marks, has managed to take the T-shirt off his back.

In order to bankroll the divorce, Mr Marks, 58, has been forced to sell stg£40m of his shares in the business he built into a huge empire worth hundreds of millions of pounds.

The split is estimated to cost him at least stg£50m and the sale of shares in the clothing retailer will only part-finance the hefty settlement.

The sell-off forms part of a much larger deal in which he has already bought his estranged wife a new mansion and handed over their holiday home in the Caribbean island of St Barts.

It is one of the costliest partings in history, eclipsed only by the bust-up involving Jersey-based building tycoon Steve Morgan. A one-night stand cost him an estimated stg£100m when his wife, Pamela, found out that he had been playing away from home.

An announcement on the London Stock Exchange, French Connection said that Mr Marks, who is chairman and chief executive, would be selling between eight and nine million shares "to meet personal requirements." Like his marriage, the shares took a tumble, falling 29p to 430p.

Marks, who set up the company infamous for its controversial FCUK advertising campaigns (French Connection UK), separated from Alisa, 38, late last year. They have been married for 10 years and have two daughters and a son.

The couple were well known fixtures on the European fashion circuit and counted Madonna and Sting among their friends.

Mrs Marks moved out of the stg£10 million family home in The Boltons, the most fashionable part of Chelsea, taking the children Ella, Joshua and Eva to live with her. They moved around the corner to South Kensington.

Mr Marks began his career in fashion after giving up hope of becoming a professional tennis player. In his youth he once played at Junior Wimbledon and recently paid to play doubles with Tim Henman on Centre Court.

It will be singles from now on, though, at least on the home front.

The big bust-ups

Pamela and Steve Morgan: An affair cost the Jersey building tycoon £100m, including a £26m company stake.

Terence and Caroline Conran: Ms Conran won a landmark case when she was awarded £10 million against her interior designer husband. "All she did was cook a few dinners," he fumed.

Abdullah Mastry and Mona al-Khatib: A British court ordered Mr Mastry to pay his former wife £26.3 million after he abducted his four children from their home two years ago. He argues he is subject to Islamic law which forbids divorce.

Zeta and Francois Graff: Greek-born actress Ms Graff was handed £10 million of the diamond heir's £160m fortune. She celebrated with a caseload of £600 bottles of vintage Cristal champagne.

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