Fergie’s toe sucker in battle with former wife
She says he cheated but he’s demanding £1.6m
Of the scandals that have sullied the reputation of the Duchess of York, none has been more damaging than her relationship with John Bryan, her American ‘financial adviser’, who was photographed sucking her toes as she reclined topless by a pool in the South of france in 1992.
Yet fergie may have got off lightly — judging by the nightmare that appears to have engulfed the young woman who became Bryan’s first wife 13 years later.
Astrid Nuyens, a classically trained violinist, singer and model, was just 22 when she married Bryan, by then 50, in 2005.
the marriage lasted seven years, but ended in divorce in 2014 — and Astrid is currently being pursued by her former husband through the courts for £1.6 million. Now I can disclose the truth about the disastrous marriage and her fears of impending bankruptcy.
the pair met at a dinner party in LA. ‘It was absolutely love at first sight — certainly as far as I was concerned,’ Bryan said in 2009. ‘I was smitten the very first moment I laid eyes on her. She’s not only beautiful, but very talented.’
the couple lived in LA, with Bryan pursuing business interests with his company, the Watley Group, while Astrid developed her own career — with such success that, by 2011, she had a reality TV show, Astrid In Wonderland, in her native Belgium.
But the title soon seemed grimly ironic. ‘there were women that contacted me, via email and my social media,’ says Astrid, who still lives in Los Angeles.
the messages were distressing, informing her ‘that they’d had affairs with my husband. It was horrible. that’s how I found out he was cheating on me’.
Astrid, who separated from Bryan before divorcing him in March 2014, adds: ‘I paid him a lot of money to walk away.’
however, the torment is still not over. far from leaving Astrid in peace, Bryan, now 61, is suing her for earnings, which, he claims, she never disclosed at the time of their divorce.
Astrid, who has two outstanding lawsuits in Belgium against her former manager in a bid to reclaim what she is owed, disputes that she ever received the money.
Despite being a financial adviser, Bryan was never seen as wealthy by texan tycoon standards and has found business success elusive. In 1995, his Germanbased company Oceonics Deutschland collapsed with debts of £10 million.
And in 1996, he was made bankrupt by the high Court in London after failing to pay debts of £60,000 to creditors, including the Duchess of York’s sister. having negotiated the rights with hello! magazine for the Australian wedding of fergie’s sister Jane, he ended up pocketing £55,000 from the £145,000 deal and was ordered by the court to pay it back to Jane.
Bryan tells me: ‘I am confident that an appropriate resolution will be reached by the courts and I can move on with my life accordingly.’
though Astrid is recently very happily remarried — to director Bram Coppens, whose surname she uses — she says that her ex shows no flicker of sympathy or understanding.
As if that were not bad enough, Bryan lives disconcertingly close to her. ‘Like one mile away. Less than that. he rents some house. So I see him frequently.’
One indignity that even fergie was spared.