Wives of ice cream tycoon in High Court fight over £4.7million fortune

·2-min read
Rosanna Colicci, left, and Nora Grinberg (Champion News)
Rosanna Colicci, left, and Nora Grinberg (Champion News)

The two wives of a multimillionaire ice cream magnate are locked in a frosty family inheritance fight over his £4.75 million fortune.

Ernesto “Ernie” Colicci died of Covid in 2021, aged 66, having spent 40 years carving out a London-based ice cream empire with his first wife, Josephine Colicci.

The entrepreneur, who came to the UK from Italy in 1982 “with a dream to sell ice cream”, built a business with 35 cafes, boutique restaurants and vintage ice cream trucks across London’s parks. But the couple divorced in 2011 and Ernie married his second wife, Russian-born Nora Grinberg, in 2014.

When he died, Ernie left his entire £4.75 million fortune to his second wife and their young daughter in a will written in 2017, telling his children from his first marriage, Rob Colicci, 39, and Rosanna Colicci, 36, in a letter that he had given them enough money in his lifetime.

Ernie Colicci, founder of the Colicci ice cream and cafe empire (Handout)
Ernie Colicci, founder of the Colicci ice cream and cafe empire (Handout)

First wife Mrs Colicci, 59, has now sued Mrs Grinberg, arguing that Ernie’s 40 per cent stake in the business, ECSI Ltd, worth £1.6 million should go to Rob and Rosanna. She says they made an agreement in 2016 to leave the business to their children, and wants a judge to order Mrs Grinberg to hold the shares in trust for Rob and Rosanna.

Giving evidence in the High Court, Mrs Colicci said she initially viewed Ms Grinberg as a friend and attended her ex-husband’s second wedding. She insisted her relationship with Ernie was still strong after the divorce, saying he “trusted me with everything”.

Mrs Colicci claimed Ernie and his second wife “almost broke up” after he suggested she sign a pre-nuptial agreement, adding: “She reluctantly came to the altar, he had to go and fetch her from the room to come down”. Mrs Grinberg’s barrister, Angela Walsh, said Mrs Colicc had referred to Ernie’s second wife as a “Russian maid” in one conversation. “Possibly,” replied Mrs Colicci.

Mrs Grinberg has accepted Ernie’s share should stay in the Colicci family, but wants Rob and Rosanna to pay for them. Rob, married to ex- Hollyoaks actress Scarlett Bowman, told the court he distrusted his father’s new wife after she refused to sign a pre-nup. Judge Mark Anderson KC will rule later.