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Pinault questioned at child support hearing

In the latest development in a long-running child support dispute, French billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault was asked why he failed to promptly accept paternity of his son, whose mother is supermodel Linda Evangelista. Pinault claimed he was distracted by the birth of a second child he fathered with actress Salma Hayek, to whom he is currently married. In Maryland, an unmarried father's paternity must be established before he is obligated to pay child support.

Evangelista has requested that Pinault provide her with $46,000 each month in child support, a proposal that Pinault sees as "unreasonable." Evangelista argues that the billionaire should provide financial resources allowing the boy to receive the same level of support as his other daughter. Pinault claimed that Evangelista first requested child support from him in 2007, but that he rejected the proposal. He said that he made a counter-offer, but Evangelista never accepted or rejected it. She then sued Pinault for child support in 2010.

In response to questions regarding why he was so late in confirming his paternity of his son, Pinault explained that Hayek's "difficult pregnancy" prompted him to ask Evangelista to "delay recognition" of their son until his daughter was born. He claimed that Evangelista agreed to this request.

During the hearing, Evangelista testified for 45 minutes regarding her successful modeling career, explaining that she still earns up to $100,000 for a public appearance. However, she told reporters, "I'm here today as a mother, not a model."

Pinault is best known as the chief executive of PPR, which owns such companies as Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci and other high-end brands. Evangelista's attorney estimated that Pinault is worth more than $3 billion.

Source: Reuters, "French billionaire quizzed at New York child support trial," Chris Francescani, May 4, 2012

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