James Stunt is hit by a 'proceeds of crime' order that freezes his assets, gives him a £1,00
He recently bragged of owning 200 cars and boasted that losing £5million in a casino meant nothing to him.
But playboy James Stunt is being forced to live considerably more frugally these days – on the orders of a judge, Daily Mail reported.
The gold bullion magnate ex-husband of Formula One heiress Petra Ecclestone, with whom he has three children, has had his assets frozen under ‘proceeds of crime’ rules, according to the Daily Mail. At a court hearing, secret until now, a judge also slapped a £1,000-a-week spending limit on Stunt, 37, who is described as ‘the Alleged Offender’.
For most mortals, this would be high-rolling enough, but for the brash, caviar-loving supercar fan, it must severely cramp his style.
The teetotal tycoon could not even drown his sorrows if he wanted to – as he is effectively barred from reaching into his wine cabinet, designed by Earl of Snowdon David Linley – and taking a restorative swig from his treasure trove of Chateau Petrus, which can cost £10,000 a bottle.
To do so would reduce the value of his cellar, and Stunt is prohibited from doing this. The Mail has obtained a copy of a ‘restraint order prohibiting disposal of assets’ served on him by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) under the Proceeds of Crime Act. The order threatens him with a fine or jail if he tries to sell his multi-million-pound homes or cherished fleet of supercars.
Over 17 pages, the restraint order freezes no fewer than 14 bank accounts, and bans the sale of his Lamborghinis, Rolls-Royces and Bentleys, and seven property deeds. The order was issued by Judge Sarah Munro QC, sitting at the Old Bailey, on August 29. The hearing was private, and was not reported at the time. When the Mail tried to report on the existence of the order last December, Stunt’s lawyers obtained a court order that banned publication.
But Stunt’s bid to gag the Press has backfired, after the Mail challenged the gagging order in court yesterday. It was overturned, meaning the Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings against the multi-millionaire can be revealed for the first time. The Act was introduced in 2002 to allow money or assets to be seized by the State if they were obtained through unlawful conduct. In Stunt’s case, he has not been charged with any offence, and it is not clear why the order has been made. His assets have not been seized, but their use has been restricted and he must not dispose of, deal with or diminish the value of them.
It is understood that, since August, the restraint order has been subject to minor revisions on three occasions, to take account of Stunt’s business interests.
In the original order, Judge Munro QC slapped a £1,000-a-week limit on him, saying: ‘This order does not prohibit the Alleged Offender from spending up to £1,000 a week towards his ordinary living expenses.’
It is a far cry from his days of splashing the cash. His costly and acrimonious divorce from Miss Ecclestone in 2017 did not dent his penchant for shopping trips to Harrods in a cavalcade of supercars. In March last year, he declared to Tatler magazine that he is ‘as rich as ever’.
He said he had once had a £5million credit line at ‘every casino’ in London, Monaco, Las Vegas and Macao but had recently cut his wagers to ‘just’ £20,000 a night, explaining: ‘Me fooling around with £20,000, I’m not trying to sound as if I don’t know the value of money, but it’s a huge improvement on losing £5million a night. You have to bet enough to hurt you, but I definitely had a gambling problem. I was losing millions every time.’
Interviewed at home by the high-society magazine, while wearing a £60,000 Audemars Piguet gold wristwatch, he showed off some of his paintings including a Van Gogh, a Constable, a Picasso and several Van Dycks.
These are likely to be among the list of artworks that Stunt has been ordered to draw up by the court. The judge demanded he itemise all of his ‘paintings, furniture, watches, jewellery and objets d’art’, along with their estimated value, photographs and locations where they are held.
Stunt has spent millions on artworks. His bodyguards have been spotted carrying bubble-wrapped masterpieces from Sotheby’s and Christie’s to Rolls-Royces parked on yellow lines outside.
He has lent paintings by Monet, Dali, Picasso and Constable to galleries around the world. Even Prince Charles accepted paintings on loan for the restoration of his Scottish stately home Dumfries House, and Stunt has several royal letters of gratitude on display at his Mayfair office.
Two months ago, in line with good journalistic practice, the Mail gave Stunt a chance to comment before publication. A security guard answering the door of his stucco-fronted Belgravia cottage said he was unavailable, but accepted a letter to him offering an opportunity to comment. Instead of doing so, Stunt went straight to a judge.
Later that day, Old Bailey Judge Mark Dennis QC granted an order to ‘prohibit publication of all information’ relating to the assets freezing order. Yesterday, Judge Dennis threw out the gagging order, and suggested Stunt had been trying to protect his ‘personal, reputational or personal business interests’, none of which was relevant to the Proceeds of Crime proceedings. The CPS has declined to comment.
My view: Oh £1000 a week is good enough for a man who reportedly boasted that losing £5million in a casino meant nothing to him, he'll definitely adjust to his weekly allowance. There's no need to hide things if you're doing the right thing, especially if you're a show off.