Arun Nayar - Biography

When Arun Nayar walked up the aisle with [Elizabeth Hurley] in March 2007, it was billed as the celebrity wedding of the year and attracted press coverage the world over. Yet he has managed to keep an intriguingly low profile. "Most of what you read about him is made up, but he actually doesn't mind at all," commented a close friend. "He finds it funny, and secretly rather likes being portrayed as some sort of international man of mystery."


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And in true 'international man of mystery' form, Arun was not, as commonly believed, born into the Mumbai aristocracy, but rather spent his early years on a Leeds council estate. Born in December 1964 to Gunnar, his German-born mother, and Vinod, his Indian father - who was studying at the local university, the family moved to India shortly after the birth of Arun\'s younger brother Nikhil.

Following his parents separation, both boys lived with their mother, who founded an enormously successful textiles firm in Mumbai which boomed in the 1970s. The family's new-found wealth enabled Gunnar to send her children to the exclusive Cathedral and John Connon school, where the cheeky young Arun was constantly playing practical jokes.

Arun\'s mischievous behaviour in Mumbai resulted in the 16-year-old being sent back to England, to attend to prestigious Millfield boarding school. The strict education and emphasis on sports, at which Arun excelled, obviously set the teenager on the straight and narrow, and the naturally bright student won a place to study physics at Oxford. Fluent in English, Hindi, German and Italian, Arun went on to gain a Masters degree in physics at Imperial College, London, before returning to India to work in the family textiles business.

The young, handsome businessman certainly enjoyed his youth working in Mumbai, becoming a regular on the city's glamorous social scene and earning himself a jet-set reputation with holidays in Saint Tropez and Saint Moritz and houses in France, Germany and London.

In 1991 Arun met an Italian model in St Moritz, Valentina Pedroni, who he married in 1997. "Arun was handsome and enchanting," she later recalled. "He knows how to speak to a woman, and how to be sweet. He was irresistible, and I fell in love straight away." The pair enjoyed a seemingly perfect relationship, with a glamorous life among Mumbai's glitterati, but they began leading increasingly separate lives with Valentina spending time abroad and Arun devoting much time to his computer business, Direction Software Solutions.

The couple separated in 2002 and soon after Arun found himself suddenly in the spotlight when he met and fell in love with Elizabeth Hurley. London-based financier Alessandro Tome had introduced the couple over dinner and they were seen in public for the first time in January 2003 at a Christian Dior fashion show in Paris.

Despite a difficult and lengthy divorce, Arun was declared free to remarry in November 2005, and he and Elizabeth began planning their extravagant nuptials. The couple held two lavish wedding ceremonies - one in England, one in India.

The pair lived between London and a country house in the Cotswolds, with Elizabeth's son Damian from a former relationship, where Arun admitted that rural life suits him. "I'll take Damian out on the tractor while Elizabeth cooks," he said. "It\'s a bit like the Waltons."

Arun was said to be "devastated" by the breakdown of his marriage, which was exposed in a tabloid newspaper in December 2010. It was widely reported the couple were set to divorce, though the dignified tycoon refused to comment on the rumours surrounding their split.