Saturday, April 3, 2010

Sir Elton John's manager dons Miss Marple garb over mystery death

Friends and family of the late record company executive Peter Ikin who died in November 2008 aged 62, are still asking questions about the manner of his death. Ikin, a much loved music industry figure who was the boss of Warner's Music Australia passed away after a fall down some stairs in his Paris hotel and after marrying his French lover Alexandre Despallieres in a civil ceremony the previous month at the Chelsea Town Hall in London. Ikin had retired in 2000 after a stint as VP at the London HQ of Warner's Music.

Despallieres produced a new will reputedly signed by Ikin in August of that year and witnessed by Despallieres' assistant Jeremy Billien and another friend Vincent Bray, leaving Ikin's $20million fortune to his new husband. After getting probate granted in England, Despallieres' had Ikin's body cremated and set about spending over $2 million from Ikin's Channel Island's bank account, purchasing 3 Porches-one for himself and one each for  Billien and Bray.

actor Simon Burke, John Reid and Peter Ikin
London's High Court overturned that will after a previous one was produced by Ikin's lawyer, signed in 2002 which left his estate to charities, his godchildren and only living relative, a Catholic priest in Sydney. An out of court settlement was reached in which Despallieres is said to have received a million dollars.  Despallieres also agreed to move out of  Ikin's Chelsea apartment.

It's claimed that Despallieres has said in the past he was suffering from brain cancer and is HIV, hence Ikin's rush to marry him and make a new will.

Ikin was well liked and friendly with many pop stars like Elton John and Rod Stewart. John Mellancamp said of Ikin ; "he was always kind, and jovial and a pleasure to be with. I have thought and spoke of Peter often. He was my introduction to the music business"

Now former rock manager John Reid, a friend of Ikin's and who guided the careers of Elton John, Freddie Mercury and Queen and the dancer Michael Flatley wants some answers. Reid has hired a French lawyer who has petitioned the French coroner for a toxicology report into Ikin's sudden death. French police have opened a file and are investigating after it was found there were deadly levels of paracetamol in Ikin's blood when he died.

Billy Gaff wants fraud charges
And another tough-minded Scot Billy Gaff, the ex-manager of Rod Stewart is pursuing Despallieres for $500,000 he said he lent the Frenchmen whilst he was waiting for probate to be granted on Ikin's will . Gaff said he "came under Despallieres' spell when he said he was a French pop star". Gaff wants fraud charges laid against Despallieres.
He may have to get in the queue. At a recent memorial service for Ikin in Sydney  there was much muttering from Ikin's distraught friends in the music business about issuing  legal claims against Despallieres. It seems Reid has fired the first shot.