Divorced Italian millionaire is suing his widow after leaving her entire inheritance
The first wife of a multi-millionaire ice cream emperor is suing his ‘cold’ Russian second wife and widow over his £4.75million fortune – after his will left nothing for their two children as he ‘provided them adequately financially’ during his lifetime ” had .
Ernesto “Ernie” Colicci died of Covid in 2021 at the age of 66 after spending nearly 40 years carving a London-based ice cream “empire” alongside his first wife Josephine Colicci.
The couple’s two children, Rob Colicci, 39, and Rosanna Colicci, 36, both played roles in the booming family business, with Rob later marrying ex-Hollyoaks actress Scarlett Bowman.
But Ernie and Josephine divorced in 2011, and in 2014 he married his second wife, Russian-born Nora Grinberg.
Ernesto ‘Ernie’ Colicci died of Covid in 2021 at the age of 66 after spending almost 40 years carving out a London-based ice cream ’empire’.
Now his first wife Josephine Colicci is suing his widow over Mr Colicci’s inheritance
Mr Colicci’s widow, Nora Grinberg, shares a daughter with the late Ice Baron
Rob Colicci and Josephine Colicci arrive before the High Court proceedings
Ernie had come to the UK from his native Italy in 1982 “with a dream of selling ice cream” and over the years that followed set up a business with around 35 locations in London’s parks, offering a mix of cafes, boutique restaurants and vintage ice cream vans operation.
In April 2017, when Ernie died, his will left his entire fortune of £4.75million to Ms Grinberg and their baby daughter, writing a letter telling his children from his first marriage that he had given them enough money while he was alive had.
But now Ms Colicci is standing face-to-face with her ex-husband’s widow – who the court heard the court heard she was disparagingly referred to as his “Russian maid” – in a courtroom, arguing that his £1.6million share of the ice cream deal is rightful should go to their children, Rob and Rosanna.
Ms Colicci, 59, insists his 40 per cent stake in family business ECSI Ltd was earmarked to her children Rob and Rosanna under an agreement they worked out together in 2016.
But on his death he actually left his estate to Mrs. Grinberg, and Mrs. Colicci is now suing, on a judicial declaration, that Mrs. Grinberg holds the shares in trust for Rob and Rosanna.
The siblings each already own 10% of the family business and Rob is a director with Mrs Colicci owning the remaining 40%.
Ms Grinberg is being sued in the High Court as executor of her husband’s estate in a dispute that has already raked in around £150,000 in legal fees from the Colicci family, who are suing as surviving shareholders in the company.
Penelope Reed KC – for Ms Colicci and her children – said the case revolves in part around the effect of a 2016 legal deed negotiated between Ms Colicci, Ernie and their two children, in which the parents “each agreed to a making a will,” and they left shares in the company to Rob and Rosanna.
Ms Colicci claims a legal deed negotiated between her, her ex-husband and their two children in 2016 assured her inheritance
The family business was taken over by Rob Colicci, 39, (far left) and Rosanna Colicci, 36 (far right).
Ms Colicci said she helped her husband build their empire through four decades of transplantation
From the witness stand, Ms Colicci told the court that when her ex started dating Ms Grinberg, she initially considered her a friend and even attended her wedding to Mr Colicci.
She still had a good relationship with Ernie, with whom she had helped build her ice cream empire over four decades of transplants, adding that even after their split he “confided with me with everything.”
“We went from selling ice cream in the back of a van to the business we have today through a lot of hard work,” she told the court.
She said she and her ex agreed in 2016 that their two children would inherit their company shares when they died, to ensure their offspring’s future and the Colicci empire.
And she also claimed Ernie and his second bride “almost broke up” after he suggested she sign a pre-nup deal before their wedding, which she declined.
The fallout over the proposed marriage spoiled their wedding day, Ms Colicci said, adding: “She came to the altar reluctantly, he had to go and fetch her from the room to come down.”
Ms Grinberg’s lawyer, Angela Walsh, confronted Ms Colicci with claims that she referred to her ex’s “Russian maid” in one conversation, suggesting that it was a “pejorative term for an independent, professional woman”.
“Possibly,” replied Ms. Colicci.
Ms Walsh argued that the terms of the 2016 agreement were “erased” by a subsequent shareholders’ agreement in 2017, which “replaced previous agreements” and also distributed 10 per cent of Ernie and Josephine’s shares to Rob and Rosanna.
She accepted that his shares should remain in the Colicci family but said that Rob and Rosanna should pay a fair price for it as they are part of the estate left by her husband Mrs Grinberg.
The attorney told Judge Mark Anderson KC that Ms Grinberg, who claims Ernie never insisted that she sign a prenuptial agreement, will face financial “hardship” if she loses her late husband’s share in the family business for nothing.
She had sacrificed a dynamic career as a chemical engineer running her own company to start a family with Mr Colicci – with their daughter, now six years old and fatherless, the court heard.
“The financial impact on his wife and daughter has been life changing,” her lawyer said, adding that much of the fortune Mr Colicci left them is at risk of being swallowed up by debt and “liabilities”.
After the birth of their baby, Mr Colicci was determined to “take care of his new wife and child” – feeling he had already done everything he could to support his two children from his first marriage.
He even left a “wishing letter” showing he wrote Rob and Rosanna out of his will so he could care for Ms Grinberg, who left a lucrative business role to marry him and start a family.
Mr. Colicci had stated in his will that he had made “sufficient financial provisions” for his first two children
He said: “They are now independent adults with financial security. I think this is more than adequate financial provision for Roberto and Rosanna.’
In his letter he explained: “I love Roberto and Rosanna very much and my will does not reflect how I feel for them.
“I have endowed both of them with significant financial resources during their lifetime, and I have furnished them with properties, rental properties and careers.
“They are now independent adults with financial security. I think this is more than adequate financial provision for Roberto and Rosanna.’
Rob Colicci testified and explained that he felt a lack of trust in his stepmother, partly because of her refusal to sign the prenuptial agreement with his father.
But he added: “It wasn’t really about the pre-nup, it was about my general feeling that she had a chill.
“We felt that Nora was trying to establish a hierarchy in my father’s life and when I found out about the marriage that was another factor.
“I think a lot of emphasis was given to the premarital issue. It added to my thinking that I didn’t trust her, but I think it got blown a bit.
The judge’s verdict is expected at a later date.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11884885/Divorc-e-Italian-millionaire-sues-widow-left-entire-inheritance-her.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Divorced Italian millionaire is suing his widow after leaving her entire inheritance