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Prenups For Property

Is it time we made the developer/investor relationship legal? Investor Helen Chorley comments

On 24 May 2014, deep within the walls of a 16th-century fort in Florence, something equally unfathomable and yet entirely predictable was happening. No, it wasn’t a secret renewed inauguration of Silvio Berlusconi. Nor was it the discovery of a botched Chapel fresco restoration. It was something far more jaw-dropping. Something capable of inducing involuntary salivation and a bit of nausea simultaneously. It was of course the wedding of media socialite and businesswoman Kim Kardashian to multi-platinum rapper and artist Kanye West. Whether or not we were or are interested in their lives is neither here nor there. Forget UK house price booms and the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, here this was front-page news. And we were all invited to marvel at the glamour, scale and grandiosity of it. Staged at none other than the Forti de Belvedere, a looming pile once built to show off the power and wealth of the Medici family, the wedding was purported to cost around £10m. Months in planning and lasting several days with over 200 guests flown to various locations in France and Italy by private jet, it was dubbed ‘the wedding of the century.’

 The word on many people’s lips was probably ‘wow!’ The words on mine were ‘I hope they have a good prenup!’ It turns out they (mostly) did, according to reputable tabloid sources of course. But they almost didn’t. It was recently divulged that Kanye didn’t originally see the need for a prenup. He felt that loving Kim the way he did, he was happy to fully share his assets with her. Kim, being an astute businesswoman and on her second marriage, saw differently. And if we look at the terms, we can see why. In Kim and Kanye’s prenup, there was a clause included which stated that she would receive $1m for every year she was married to Kanye. If they were to get divorced (which they now are), Kim would get to keep her wedding ring along with all other gifts Kanye had gifted to her. Those now amount to multimillion pound artworks, cars, and jewellery. Furthermore, all of her own business assets would remain hers no matter what happened. In short, both parties (or definitely Kim anyway) would be able to protect their assets while investing into the relationship in a way they both saw fit. Living the dream, wouldn’t you say?

Cut to 2022, and me, Helen Chorley, entering the third hour of a Zoom shareholders meeting, still clutching my flimsy shareholders agreement (ShA) for a project still going nowhere. My capital?
Off on someone else’s adventure. My questions? (when actually allowed to ask any since it was deemed necessary to permanently mute dissenters) continually ignored. Obvious practical and contractual disparities? Denied. This is a situation I’ve now been in more than once with an evasive property developer. And so here I am just scratching my head, staring at this one line in the introduction of the ShA. ‘This agreement is intended to regulate the relationship between the Parties for the purposes and on the terms set out in this agreement.’

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