Sunday, December 20, 2009

discreet aristocratic entrance

      Slipping quietly into her former home town for a visit is the Countess of Dartmouth, the former Fiona Handbury who divorced the owner of media magazine empire, Matt Hanbury in 2001.Hanbury also happens to be Rupert Murdoch's nephew which has earned him the nickname-The Man From Uncle.
     When Sir Keith Murdoch died in 1952 he left one newspaper, the Adelaide Advertiser to his son Rupert who has since parlayed it into the News Corp world-wide media empire.
     Leaving a handful of small moderately successful magazines to daughter Helen, her son Matt turned them into a nation wide publishing success Murdoch Magazines which he sold in 2004 to Perth billionaire Kerry Stokes for $77M.
      Fiona, a former model who has appeared on Vogue covers around the world was once Sydney's party queen, holding court at the Handbury's magnificent Point Piper pile, Altona. The Handbury parties were the most sought after invites with Matt
(pictured right), a frustrated rock'n'roller taking to the stage with his own rock band and electric guitar.
        Altona is one of the most desired harbourside properties. Fiona once confided to tSS at one of their poolside shindigs that the Handbury and Murdoch clans aren't terribly close and only ever meet at the most formal family functions like birthday get-togethers for the Murdoch matriach Dame Elisabeth Murdoch.
       As part of her divorce settlement, Fiona received Altona which she promptly sold for nearly $29M. It currently rents out to visiting celebs like Bono and actor Hugh Jackman. Jackman  has expressed a desire to purchase the house.
      Cashed up, Fiona fled the Sydney scene for rural England.

Enter William Legge, the 10th Earl of Dartmouth.and an MP of the European parliament. Friends were surprised when Legge took Hanbury for his bride, convinced he was destined for confirmed bachelorhood. Now Fiona is a regular at London society parties and across the pond in New York and the Hamptons.

There's a rumour around town that the Countess's visit may involve discussions of a financial kind. Handbury still owns a highly successful publishing company Murdoch Books which goes from strength to strength operating, from a set of magnificent offices on a huge wharf on the harbour.
As revealed exclusively by tSS a year ago actor Eric Bana has become the public face of Father Chris Riley's Youth Of The Streets charity which gives homeless kids  a head start with the skills needed to survive after a rough childhood. YOTS as it is called is one of Matt Handbury's favourite causes and he has purchased a country farm for the charity and is it's most feverent financial supporter. Matt currently lives in the National Trust listed Bronte House on a 50 year lease on condition he opens the superb gardens which have magnificent sweeping lawns down to Bronte beach once a year to the public.
                           As for the Countess, she divides her time between a Belgravia house and a New York apartment while the Earl attends to affairs in Brussels.

Distant cousins ?

Belgian cartoon character Tin Tin
                                                                                                              Aussie PM Kevin Rudd