Ice cream mogul’s widow sued by his ex-wife after he left children out of £4.75m will
The ex-wife of a multi-millionaire ice cream mogul is suing his widow after he left his children out of his will.
Ernesto “Ernie” Colicci died of Covid in 2021, aged 66, having spent nearly 40 years building a London-based ice cream empire alongside his first wife, Josephine Colicci, who owns 40 per cent of the company while their children each have a 10 per cent stake.
After the couple divorced in 2011, Mr Colicci married Nora Grinberg, and they had a daughter together.
Ms Grinberg is now being sued by her husband’s ex-wife after she was left, alongside her now six-year-old daughter, his entire £4.75 million estate.
Upon composing his will in April 2017, Mr Colicci wrote a letter to his children from his first marriage, Rob Colicci, 39, and Rosanna Colicci, 36, telling them he had given them enough money in his lifetime.
Mrs Colicci, 59, is now arguing that her ex-husband’s £1.6 million stake in the ice cream business should rightfully go to her children, who both played roles in the booming family enterprise, with Rob acting as a director.
She insists that his 40 per cent stake in the family business, ECSI Ltd, was ring-fenced to be passed on to their children under an agreement they drew up together in 2016, and is arguing that Ms Grinberg holds the shares on trust for them.
Ms Grinberg is being sued at the High Court as the executor of her husband’s estate in a clash which has already racked up around £150,000 in lawyers’ fees on the side of the Colicci family, who are suing as surviving shareholders of the company.
Mrs Colicci told the court that when her ex got together with Ms Grinberg, she had initially viewed her as a friend and even attended her wedding to Mr Colicci.
She still had a good relationship with Ernie, with whom she had helped build their ice cream empire through four decades of graft, adding that even after their split he “trusted me with everything”.
“We went from selling ice cream out the back of a van to the business we have today through a lot of hard work,” she told the court.
Mrs Grinberg’s barrister, Angela Walsh, argued that the terms of the 2016 agreement had been “wiped out” by a subsequent shareholders’ agreement struck in 2017, which “superseded previous agreements” and which also distributed 10 per cent of Mr and Mrs Colicci’s shares to Rob and Rosanna.
She accepted that his shares should stay within the Colicci family, but said that, because they are part of the estate left to Mrs Grinberg by her husband, Rob and Rosanna should pay a fair price for them.
The barrister told Judge Mark Anderson KC that Mrs Grinberg will face financial “hardship” if she loses her late husband’s stake in the family company for nothing.
Following the birth of their baby, Mr Colicci had become determined to “provide for his new wife and child” - feeling that he had already done his utmost to support his two children from his first marriage.
In his “letter of wishes” to Rob and Rosanna, in which he made clear that he was writing them out of his will so that he could provide for Ms Grinberg, he explained: “I love Roberto and Rosanna very much and my will is no reflection on how I feel about them.
“I have provided both of them with significant financial funds in their lifetimes, and I have set them up with properties, rental properties, and provided them with careers.
“They are independent adults now with financial security. I consider this more than sufficient financial provision for Roberto and Rosanna.”
The judge is expected to deliver his ruling at a later date.