VIRGINIA: Wealthy divorcee Patricia Kluge to auction off items from her divorce settlement

Patricia Kluge was dubbed the “Richest Brit in Virginia” by UK Guardian back in the 1990’s when she divorced billionaire financier/media mogul John Kluge. In a December 2003 report, the Guardian said of Kluge ” She had a strict upbringing in Iraq, became a nude model in London, then married a billionaire….And, Patricia Kluge is not finished yet.”
Apparently not, if this yard sale, which is expected to rival the one Edra Blixseth threw, fetches what folks at Sothebys and other auction houses expect it to fetch.
After her 1990 divorce from John, Patricia made out like a bandit in her divorce settlement, winning not only a 3000 acre estate (she and her ex lived on it for several years after the divorce) but also preposterously expensive estate jewelry, books, hunting gear and a ton of other accoutrements of their fabled life together.  It is those very same baubles and material possessions that Patricia is trying to unload at auction.
When the Kluges divorced back in the day, it was the talk of the society set of Virginia and the rest of the country, if not the world. It was not only because of the sheer breadth of assets to be distributed in this divorce that caused folks to talk. It was not just because of the “class” with which the Kluge’s handled themselves (their divorce occurred around the same time as Donald and Ivana Trump and is often contrasted with how the Trumps handled their business). But the Kluge’s had their own scandals of sorts, namely, rumors, as reported in publications like People Magazine, that Mrs. Kluge (who is British, Scottish and Iraqi) was having a fling of sorts with then governor of Virginia, Douglas Wilder, a Black man (a scandal at the time in Pre-Obama America that literally shook this old world aristocracy; and a situation People Magazine described as “veiled racism”). According to the report, she had to drop out of an event where she was to host Princess Diana and Prince Charles due to rumors that surrounded her divorce and her past. (It should be noted that there was no claim of adultery either then or now) Said People:

The settlement alone would have been enough to keep blue-blood eyebrows raised, but there’s more. In recent weeks word has trickled out about who the soon-to-be ex-Mrs. Kluge has been keeping company with: no less than Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, 59, the first elected black Governor in U.S. history and a rising political star who’s being widely touted as a possible White House contender. 

According to the People report, the racial differences between two just made the gossip all the much sweeter for some strange reason. Where is Mr. Wilder today? Well, we don’t know he’s alive and kicking and was recently elected Mayor of Virginia (after his gubernatorial stint). There is no indication that he and Mrs. Kluge are involved – but we don’t know this for a fact. What we do know is that more than a decade hence, Mr. Wilder never became president; and John, who is now 95, is remarried to a woman named Maria Tussi Kluge (he’s still a billionaire, albeit not the richest man in the world as he was in 1990); and Patricia now wants to get rid of all the trappings of her wealthy and magnificent life with her ex husband (he was about 30 years her senior), simplify her life, downsize, and streamline her new life as an owner of a vineyard, international traveler, and real estate connoisseur. According to the WSJ Wealth Report:

Patricia Kluge is having the yard sale of all yard sales this spring. First, Sotheby’s is scheduled this week to auction off more than 200 pieces of jewelry [that she received in her divorce settlement] from her collection, including a pair of platinum and diamond pendant-ear clips set with almost 64 carats of pear-shaped diamonds and estimated between $600,000 and $800,000. Also included are some “fancy-intense” yellow diamonds, suites of sapphires and rubies, and a sapphire and diamond Panthère wristwatch from Cartier circa 1985. The watch is estimated between $100,000 and $150,000

The sale is expected to include real estate, art, rare books, decorative arts, jewelry, guns and couture gowns – also according to WSJ. This sale would bring to an end, a storied divorce between socialites of class and distinction, a rarity in today’s Twitter and Facebook modalities which produce great vulgarity when the rich divorce. John and Patricia did it with such grace. Said the New York Times at the time:

On the social circuit this week, there was talk of the attractive way John and Patricia Kluge, who are said to be the country’s wealthiest couple, are dissolving their marriage of nine years. It sounded like a divorce made in heaven, which was refreshing, since everyone had had enough of the other kind.

Hopefully the auction will be equally as graceful, a fitting denouement to a marriage and divorce that by all accounts was a pairing and unpairing of equals, and a study in how some new money divorces can be handled with  anti-ghetto refinement.
Update: 95 year old John Kluge has died this week. Our condolences to all.
Image credit:

Originally published on April 22, 2010