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‘I still cry about it every day,’ says Tamara Mellon, as tears roll down her perfectly made-up cheeks.It’s a sunny autumn morning in Los Angeles and the former It-girl and co-founder of luxury shoe brand Jimmy Choo is talking about the death in April of her ex-husband, billionaire Matthew Mellon – father to her 16-year-old daughter Minty.But, feeling undermined and exploited by the firm’s private equity investors (who by then owned a majority share in the company), Tamara left Jimmy Choo in 2011 with a reported £105 million payout, and two years later started her own eponymous line of shoes and clothing.By 2015, however, the new firm had filed for bankruptcy."Michael is very supportive and a great sounding board.He is so honest and very straight up – you don't get anything wishy washy with him, although he's no good at small talk.‘He was showing up for Minty, he looked healthy and handsome and was living the life he wanted to yearlive.’ As an early investor in cryptocurrency, he’d also enjoyed a great deal of financial success.
‘It plugs the brain’s opioid receptors so you don’t have cravings, but it runs out after three months,’ says Tamara.Matthew had an appointment for a booster on a Monday morning, and checked into a hotel on Sunday night. ‘When you use [drugs] every day, your body builds a tolerance, but when you relapse you can’t use the amount you used before and you OD,’ she says.‘It’s very common and often people die.’ Minty was ‘absolutely devastated’, she says. Since 2011, she has been dating Michael Ovitz, the 71-year-old co-founder of CAA – the biggest talent agency in the US, representing A-listers from Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg to Madonna – and now a major Silicon Valley investor.But Tamara, impeccably groomed in sleek Saint Laurent trousers and jacket and leopard-print boots from her own collection, is made of impressively stern stuff.
Tamara launched Jimmy Choo – with the Malaysian shoe designer who lent his name to the brand – in 1996, while still in her 20s.
It was a very public failure for the former golden girl of retail, once ranked the 64th richest woman in Britain, worth an estimated £99 million.