Sometimes even a bit of Hollywood gossip catches my eye and recently I saw the name Petra Ecclestone in the news. Nothing important or Lindsay Lohanish, but I couldn’t remember how I recognized that name. So I started looking; after all you don’t forget a beautiful gal named Petra. Then I remembered; just 18 months ago, when she was a mere 22 years old, she plopped down $85 million CASH for the Aaron Spelling mansion that his widow was selling (Tori’s mother). When Aaron Spelling died seven years ago, he was the most prolific television producer ever with 218 production credits to his name. The Mod Squad, Charlie’s Angels, 7th Heaven, and Beverly Hills 90210 were just a few of the hits that allowed him to build this view-blocking mansion that pissed-off every neighbor in Holmby Hills. His widow, Candi (tori’s mommy), put the mansion on the selling block, asking $150 million but accepting Petra’s offer of $85 mil in cash.
So, I understood where the money came from to build this place, but where did the lovely 22 year old Petra come up with this much cash? It didn’t take me long to find out her daddy gave it to her. Not her sugar-daddy, her father, Bernie. OMG, was this guy Bernie Madoff? No, he was plain old Bernie Ecclestone. So, of course, I had to find out Bernie’s story. It sounded like THE AMERICAN DREAM!
Here’s Bernie and daughter Petra (who he gave $85 million to buy home)
Bernie was born in 1930 to a poor fisherman and Bernie dropped out of school at age 16 to work at a gas station and pursue his love of motorcycles. He developed a reputation as “the guy to see” if you wanted your speedometer wound backwards. Bernie started racing motorcycles when he was 19 and acquired a Cooper sports car in 1951 and started racing that for a few years until a serious wreck caused him to rethink his career choice. He started running a weekend car auction and invested his profits in real estate.
All this sounds like a typical “american dream” story but Bernie was born and raised in a small hamlet in Suffolk, England. He then took his real estate profits, purchased two used Formula 1 chassis, and brought a talented driver, Stuart Lewis-Evans, on board his racing team. They did fairly well, but in 1958, at the Moroccan Grand Prix, their engine blew up, caught fire and Lewis-Evans perished in the flames. Once again, Bernie Ecclestone retired from the racing business; but not for long.
His real estate investments brought in enough profits to allow Bernie to buy another racing team and this time he implemented a lot of original ideas for chassis and engine design. He then started having success and the best of the best Formula 1 drivers came to Bernie’s garage to sign up. He won races with Carlos Reteumann, Carlos Pace, World Champion Nicki Lauda, and Nelson Piquet. The Formula 1 team Bernie had purchased for $120,000 in 1971 was sold in the ‘80s for $5 million. (still not enough to give Petra $85 million cash).
The real key to Bernie Eccllestone’s wealth was his ability to see the future of Formula 1 racing. He was the Jerry Buss (Laker’s late owner) of the circuit. He somehow gained the sole right to negotiate television rights for the circuit. He gave 47% of the money to the driving teams, 30% to the Formula 1 organiaztion and his company (just him) received the other 23%.
For the last twenty years, Formula 1 racing is the third most watched sport in the world; right after the Olympics and World Cup Soccer. Usually over 500 million folks in 19 countries watch every race. (around 5 million viewers watch NASCAR)
Bernie Ecclestone is the fourth richest person in the United Kingdom with an estimated worth just under $5 billion dollars. That five bil is after Bernie’s divorce last year which cost him $2 billion dollars. Here’s he and his first wife, Slavica.
Bernie has probably made more racist, sexist, and inflammatory statements then any 1000 people, and he’s kept busy apologizing. Currently he is in a huge legal battle in England. He stands 5 feet three inches tall and can only see eye to eye with his newest “trophy model” wife, Fabiana, when he stands on his wallet.
Maybe he should have stayed in high school a few more years.