Two billionaire siblings are locked in a bitter court battle over their late mother’s £40million inheritance.
Upon her death four years ago, Patricia Moores left behind a £40million estate including a £2million six-bedroom home and sizeable trust set up more than 70 years ago by her father, the Littlewoods empire founder Cecil Moores.
However, the will has sparked an acrimonious legal feud among her three adult children – Christian, Rebecca and Matthew Velarde – over who will inherit Mrs Moores’s part of the family fortune.
Christian Velarde is her oldest son. He claims his mother meant for Matthew, Matthew’s younger brother to be cut out in order to keep his ex-wife away from claiming.
Matthew – supported by his sister Rebecca – argues he is entitled to a third share because his mother’s will ‘clearly’ set out her plan to split the estate equally.
Matthew won the High Court’s favor earlier this year. However, Christian continues to insist that the fund is only for him and Rebecca.
The Moores are one of Britain’s richest families, with an estimated fortune of £1.21billion amassed through the Littlewoods football pools and mail order retail empire. They have owned Everton as well as Liverpool football clubs throughout the years.
Matthew Velarde (left), son of the billionaire family behind the Littlewoods empire, won a High Court inheritance fight earlier this year over the £40million fortune left by mother Patricia Moores (right)
Pictured: The £2millioon home of Patricia Moores in the Isle of Man
Sir John Moores was aided in his construction of the empire by Cecil Moores. At one time, the Moores were the sons a bricklayer and had three women family members that are said to have been richer than the Queen.
In 1992, Business Age magazine, ranking Britain’s wealthiest women, put Moores family members Donabella Moores, Lady Grantchester and Patricia Martin in the top ten, with bigger fortunes than the Queen’s reported £100m at the time.
Bronze statues of the brothers were placed on Liverpool’s Church Street. This is where the pool company was established.
The company was sold to the Barclay brothers in 2002 for £750million, leaving many members of the family with vast multimillion pound fortunes. However, Mrs Moores’s children have been fighting to claim their shares of the family million after her death.
Penelope Reed QC was Christian’s barrister. She told Judge Ashley Greenbank that Moores had in 1981 appointed three of her children as equal beneficiaries. But, in 1997, she made a U turn and expelled Matthew.
One clause in her will says: “I leave devise bequeath the entire of my real estate, the remainder residue of my personal property…unto the children Peter Christian Velarde Matthew Julian Velarde and Rebecca Velarde.”
The court heard Matthew’s argument that Matthew had claimed the clause was a revocation of her 1997 designation of him and his siblings as sole beneficiaries.
Appealing, Ms Reed said last week to the judge that this was insufficient and she needed to have retracted the 1997 decision specifically to allow Matthew to be named as beneficiary.
Christian provided evidence that Matthew was divorcing, and Mrs Moores decided to make him a beneficiary of her trust. There had also been a general cooling of their relationship.
She told the judge that Matthew was going through a divorce at the time.
“That is the reason why this exclusion was made.”
According to her, there wasn’t enough language in the will to allow a judge in to determine that she wanted to reverse her 1997 decision to bring Matthew back as a beneficiary.
Pictured: Rebecca Velarde, who was involved in the High Court case over her mother’s fortune
She stated that the simple fact is, there was no mention of 1997’s appointment.
“This clause [of the will]’It was not meant to be able to undo something that had been so thoughtfully considered in 1997.
Rodney Stewart Smith, Matthew’s lawyer, stated that this judge was correct earlier in the year when he ruled that Mrs Moores’ assets would be divided equally by the will.
She signed her last will in 2007 and split her global assets, except certain gifts, equally among the siblings.
Christian received an orchid broach in gold with ruby centre, diamond leaves and matching gold- and diamond earrings. Matthew was presented with a Cartier watch in gold, his mother’s Russian three-ring gold Russian wedding ring and a threestrand pearl necklace featuring a large emerald, diamond clasp, as well as two pairs of earrings.
Pictured left, in 1951: Sir John Moores and Cecil founded Littlewoods Empire
Rebecca was gifted an art-deco diamond bracelet in platinum with diamond and pearl earrings. Also, Rebecca received a diamond broach, flower broach, and Leo medallions in gold and silver.
Five grandchildren were also left specific gifts of jewellery, plus £1million to split equally between them.
Matthew stated in his testimony that the divorce proceedings and financial consequences had ended by 1998. He also said his ex-wife had married a wealthy man and never attempted to file any claims against him.
Stewart Smith refuted the idea of a “general cooling” of mother-son relationships and said: “Matthew denied this. The fact that he was throughout a third beneficiary of Mrs Moores’s residuary estate support that.
She had stated two times that Mrs Moores’ worldwide assets must be taken into consideration and equally divided between her children. He also added.
He said that Mrs Moores was able to review all of her wishes regarding her demise during the making of the will.
A judge will decide on inheritance at a later date.