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Billionaire heiress Petra Ecclestone: 'I don't have to lug around my husband and pay for him'

11 OCTOBER 2011

Petra Ecclestone, the youngest daughter of F1 tycoon Bernie Ecclestone and Croatian supermodel Slavica Radic, has revealed her new business venture.

The stylish lady - whose designer shoe collection is so vast that “every three to four months I ship a whole load over to Croatia for charity” - is turning her love of fashion into an occupation.

She has created a line of 35 handbags titled Stark, and has the full support of husband James Stunt, who she married last month in a lavish £5 million ceremony.

 

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Since they met on a blind date five years ago, the clearly smitten couple have made a conscious effort “never to spend a night apart”, she told the Daily Telegraph.

And for Petra, who has been dubbed the 'British Paris Hilton', it's clear that art dealer James does not see money as motivation for being with the billionaire heiress.

“You can always tell,” she said firmly. “It’s obvious if a guy wants to use you to become famous, and James doesn’t.

“And he can support himself, which makes life easier. If we go on holiday, he pays, so I don’t have to lug him around and pay for him."

Despite the public’s perception of the 22-year-old and her older sister Tamara, Petra has a solid work ethic, instilled in her by her mother.

 

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To keep her daughters grounded following her divorce from Bernie, Slavica refused the help of a nanny or maid and regularly took her girls to the Croatian port of Rijeka to meet their relatives.

“My grandmother worked on a fruit and vegetable market stall,” she said. "Showing us where we came from was important.”

But her understanding of hard work was also passed down from her entrepreneur father: “I’m very like him,” she said. “I don’t like the idea of waking up and not having anything to do.

“I don’t need to work, but I’ve chosen to. Do people think I don’t know that I’m privileged and lucky for what my parents have achieved?”

She addressed the speculation surrounding the magnificent $85 million LA mansion – with an estimated 123 rooms and 27 bathrooms - that she recently purchased.

“I didn’t buy the house for my dogs,” she laughed, referring to her seven-strong brood of big British bull dogs.

“But I saw a lot of houses and so many were like museums. This one is quite cosy – it’s a real family house.”

So perhaps expanding the family is on the cards for the newlyweds? “I definitely want three or four children before I’m 30,” she said with a smile.

“I think I keep buying dogs to replace children!”

 

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She certainly seems keen to expand her canine collection, having bought the last two on a whim earlier this month.

“We were in New York for fashion week and I was in between meetings wondering what to do, so I went and got two dogs”.

Petra is also quick to quash rumours about the ‘rivalry’ between her and her sister, who has also recently bought a mansion in LA.

“People always want to think that there are problems,” she said.

“But I don’t see any sort of rivalry. Tamara loves… not the limelight, but having her picture taken and performing, whereas I’m shyer.

“I prefer to be behind the camera designing,” she said. And she wants her design project Stark to expand and become a full-time career.

“I don’t want to aim too high, but hopefully I’ll have handbag and shoe stores around the world.

“I’m just trying to be successful, and even though I know I’ll never be as successful as my dad, I’d like to make my parents proud.”

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