What you need to know:
- Christina did not like Ol Jogi, too, for she disliked the killing of wildlife under the guise of controlling their population.
- At 30, she had clinical depression and was now abusing drugs after settling in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
- Nobody seems to know the relationship that existed between Adnan Khashoggi and Jocelyne, or how the two had come to know each other.
- After the death of Daniel Wildenstein in 2001, Alec inherited half of his father’s business empire, then estimated at $10 billion (Sh1 trillion), including the 60,000-acre Ol Jogi Ranch.
Ol Jogi in Laikipia was the perfect hideout for billionaires, or what the New York Magazine calls “present day Happy Valley Club”. It also was home to the art-dealing dynasty of Daniel Wildenstein, whose fortune included rare works worth billions of dollars dating back four generations.
It was here that socialite Jocelyne Wildenstein got a billionaire husband, Alec, a member of the world’s richest art family which ‘owns’ this expansive private ranch. It was from here, too, that both became fodder for Western tabloids, thanks to their messy divorce.
Locals, as Kenyan conservationist Mordecai Ogada recently found out — albeit in a crude way and in front of his children — are not supposed to photograph wildlife near the 58,000-acre conservancy, or what Ogada calls ‘Laikipia Colony’.
While Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has ordered an investigation into the harassment of the conservationist, who together with John Mbaria authored The Big Conservation Lie: The Untold Story of Wildlife Conservation in Kenya, the matter appears not to rest there since Ogada has been demanding a written apology.
To the powerful Franco-American-Jewish Wildenstein dynasty, Ol Jogi was more than a hideout for one of the world’s most secretive family. It was their playground, too. It had been bought for Alec in 1977 and he co-owned it with French tycoon Henri Rousell.
There is something else about Rousell. Besides being son to a leading French industrialist, he was also a close friend to Saudi arms dealer and playboy Adnan Khashoggi, at least by the time Khashoggi was purchasing Ol Pejeta and the Mt Kenya Safari Club. Rousell had also sold the vast Marbella estate, said to be the most expensive estate in Spain’s exclusive Costa de Sol, to Khashoggi.
It is said that Henri Rousell had sold to his brother his interest in France’s largest pharmaceutical company, Roussel-Uclaf, and “used the proceeds to maintain a life among the very rich with his Kenyan ranch”. That might be the reason he earned a dishonourable mention during the 1984 Judicial Commission of Inquiry on Charles Njonjo as the man who gave Mr Njonjo a rifle.
Henri Rousell’s son, Thierry, would later woo Christina Onassis, the daughter of Greek shipping tycoon Aristo Onassis — the man who would later marry Jacqueline Kennedy, the widow of American President John F Kennedy. The death of Christina’s brother Alexander in 1973, her mother’s suicide in 1974 and her father in 1975 saw her inherit the $77 million estate. But she was unhappy, and once referred to Jacqueline as “my father’s unfortunate obsession” and openly thought of her as a gold-digger.
Christina did not like Ol Jogi, too, for she disliked the killing of wildlife under the guise of controlling their population. Her marriage to Thierry — her fourth — collapsed after she discovered that Roussel had fathered a child with his long-time mistress. At 30, she had clinical depression and was now abusing drugs after settling in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is claimed that she once spent $30,000 to send a private jet from Buenos Aires to America to fetch Diet Coke stock. At another point, she ordered a helicopter to fly from Austria to Switzerland to retrieve a David Bowie cassette she’d left there.
At only 37, the “poor little rich girl” died.
By the time Christina was getting married to Thierry Rousell, her father-in-law’s partner in Ol Jogi, Alec Wildenstein, had been introduced to a woman who would put the ranch in the world map of divorce scandals. The woman was a socialite named Jocelyne Wildenstein, who had been moving across Africa for about 10 years. She was introduced to Alec by Khashoggi one evening in 1977, and in less than 24-hours she dumped her boyfriend of five years, the European filmmaker Sergio Gobbi, while Alec dropped Maria Kimberly, a Ford model he had lived together with for 12 years.
From Ol Jogi, which served as the backdrop for Sydney Pollack’s 1985 film "Out of Africa", the two love-birds eloped to Las Vegas on April 30, 1978 and secretly married, even though Alec’s father Daniel was against the union. He actually skipped the wedding.
Nobody seems to know the relationship that existed between Adnan Khashoggi and Jocelyne, or how the two had come to know each other. But the matter would later feature in their epic divorce case when Alec claimed that Jocelyne used to boast that before she flew Wildensteins’ Gulfstream IV, she’d flown aboard a larger jet owned by Khashoggi.
With a monthly personal upkeep of Sh15 million at the Ol Jogi Ranch, Joycelyne would later tell The Vanity Fair that she loved Laikipia: “I really put my imagination and heart into it... overseeing the ranch’s 200 buildings, two swimming pools, 55 man-made lakes — and 366 servants”. They also built a Sh300 million mansion in Ol Jogi and had a bullet-proof cave for their two tigers.
But it was Jocelyne’s obsession with plastic surgery, which according to Daily Mail cost her £2million, that would make her catch the attention of tabloids, with the New York Post nicknaming her ‘Bride of Wildenstein’. Certainly, the plastic surgery had backfired on her looks and at one point, during the divorce proceedings, Alec asked Judge Marylyn Diamond to bar reporters since his ex-wife had “scaring looks”.
“She has the impression that you fix a face the way you fix a house,” Alec Wildenstein told People in 1998. “I must say I have trouble recognising her up close.”
It had all started in Ol Jogi when the two joked about the folly of getting old. The two newlyweds, according to New York Magazine, hired the services of Dr Richard Corburn, but the aging joke became an obsession to Jocelyne.
Tabloids claimed she had undergone canthopexy, a procedure that elevated her eyes and gave her a cat-like appearance. According to The Sun, she “had an upper and lower eyelid surgery, a brow-lift, face-lift, lip-plumping injections, chin augmentation, fat grafting and/or cheek implants”.
One day in Ol Jogi in September 1997, Jocelyne received a fax from her husband who was at their family home in New York: “You are free to come to New York, but it is impossible for me to let you come in at #11” , which meant address 11 East 64th Street NY. Alec had claimed, or rather lied, that he had many engagements. But Jocylene decided to leave Ol Jogi for New York only to find Alec in bed with a 19-year old Russian girl, Yelena Jarikova. He was then 57.
According to some tabloids, Alec pointed a pistol at Jocelyne, grabbed his girlfriend and they escaped downstairs. In shock, Jocelyne called the police and Alec was arrested and taken to the cells, where he was charged with “second-degree menacing”.
Although he pleaded guilty, Alec’s father, Daniel, a well-known womaniser too, and who had opposed Alec’s marriage to Jocelyne, was said to have quipped: “That’s it, there will be no more money for her. This lady is going to wind up with nothing.”
If the family thought that the Queen of Ol Jogi was going down without a fight, they were wrong. By then, Jocelyne’s mother was still in Laikipia battling Alzheimers. Most of the property that Alec was thought to have owned was actually in his father’s name, including the Ol Jogi Ranch and the family’s castle, Le Chateau Mariaenthal, thought to be the largest in Paris metro.
Even with that, Alec was rich: he had his own private jet and 160 thoroughbred racehorses which were winning epic races in Europe. But as it turned out, most of the family fortune was still in Alec father’s name. One newspaper wrote that “if Jocelyne wanted money from this dying marriage, she would have to sue her father-in-law for divorce. Everybody knows you can’t sue your father-in-law.”
But still Jocelyne decided to file for divorce in a case that earned her global attention — and some fodder for tabloids. She, perhaps, loved it and hired a well-known Republican campaign consultant Edward Rollins to handle her PR. It was this case that exposed the extent of Wildenstein family's riches and how Alec’s father, Daniel, controlled the fortune held under Wildenstein & Co, and how his sons, in their 50s, had no control over it.
When the case opened, Jocelyne’s lawyer asked the court to order the family to give her a monthly pay of Sh20 million ($200,000) and a deposit of Sh5 billion ($50m) pending the divorce settlement. But Alec Wildenstein pleaded poverty, arguing that he only earned a meagre $175,000 (Sh17.5 million) a year and was highly subsidised by his father.
Jocelyne was to receive $2.5 billion (Sh250 billion) and $100 million each year for 13 years afterward. Certianly, the Wildenstein did not want any public revelation of their wealth and forensic look at their accounts. They opted for a behind-the-tent negotiation.
After the death of Daniel Wildenstein in 2001, Alec inherited half of his father’s business empire, then estimated at $10 billion (Sh1 trillion), including the 60,000-acre Ol Jogi Ranch. In 2000, he married a Russian-born model, Liouba Stoupakova, the woman who would later inherit Ol Jogi after the February 17, 2008 death of Alec in Paris.
Fast-forward to May 2018, and Jocelyne filed for bankruptcy. According to the New York Post, she still had millions of dollars in property, including a sprawling apartment valued at $11.75 million at the Trump World Tower in Manhattan. And that is only part of the story of Ol Jogi Ranch, where Mordecai Oganda found himself in a tight spot. Perhaps there is more.