A Swiss aristocrat and her late husband’s lover are locked in a bitter court feud over half of his £4.4 million fortune and the collection of antique clocks and paintings he left behind.
German financier Rainer Kahrmann did not leave behind a valid will when he died aged 71 in 2014, sparking a High Court battle.
His wife, Christiane de Muller, and his children now stand to inherit the fortune, but Mr Kahrmann’s lover after the breakdown of his marriage, Hilary Harrison-Morgan, received £2.2 million from the sale of property in Belgravia.
Mrs Harrison-Morgan, 59, who had twin sons with investment banker Mr Kahrmann, is now being sued by Mme de Muller for the return of the money to her late husband’s estate.
Mme de Muller, an aristocrat who part-owns a chateau in Switzerland, is also demanding the return of items, including paintings and a grandfather clock, which she says Mrs Harrison-Morgan has kept.
At the centre of the feud is a two-storey maisonette in Wilton Crescent, where Mr Kahrmann and Mrs Harrison-Morgan lived and raised their two sons, Fred and Max. The home, along with an adjacent property in Belgrave Mews, was part-owned by Mr Kahrmann and was sold two weeks after his death, generating a profit of £4.4m.
Half went to his estate but the other half was retained by Mrs Harrison-Morgan. Mme de Muller claims her husband’s ex-partner was “wrongly paid” in the deal.
But Mrs Harrison-Morgan argued: “Rainer fully intended to make sure that myself and the boys were looked after from the proceeds of sale.”
Asserting rights as a sitting tenant and a common law wife, Mrs Harrison-Morgan also pointed out that she lived in the Wilton Crescent flat for over 20 years and played a key role in the sale of the properties. The transactions would have stalled had she refused to vacate, she claimed.
“I would never have left that house or signed anything without expecting to be paid,” she said. “I was paid to get out, it was really simple. I was expecting £3m,” she added.
Mme de Muller was not present during the court hearing, but her daughters, Louise, 38, and Alice, 36, gave evidence, saying they received £2.2 million following the sale and later transferred it to their father’s estate.
They have also transferred their interest in his estate to their mother and say they have received “not a penny” from their late father.
The civil trial, in front of Judge Richard Hacon, continues.