Britney And Fed-Ex
She has been dismissed as simply a bubble-headed pop princess. So when Britney Spears filed for divorce last week after two stormy years of marriage to Kevin Federline — now dubbed Fed-Ex — many assumed it would cost the 24-year-old singer a hefty chunk of her reported
£65million fortune. But it can be revealed that, far from facing financial ruin, astute Britney safeguarded her global business empire with an iron-clad 60-page prenuptial agreement, prior to her wedding in October 2004.
Britney wanted every penny protected by the pre-nup and ordered her vast legal team to draw up a list of all her worldwide assets, held in a myriad of companies including Britney Brands, BritneyFilms, Britney Online, Britney Touring, Fairy Zone Productions, One More Time Music and Britney Television.
To find out exactly how much she was worth, they gathered together hundreds of financial and tax statements. These documents have now been seen by The Mail on Sunday, and they offer a fascinating insight into the finances of a pop phenomenon.
It can also be revealed that Britney even staged an elaborate sham wedding, again to protect her fortune.
The event, on September 18, 2004, in the modest back garden of a friend's house in the Los Angeles suburb of Studio City, was meant to be the 'real thing' but, with Federline yet to sign the pre-nup, a proper wedding could not go ahead.
So, with the paparazzi on her case, Britney decided to stage the 'fake' wedding — and drew up a watertight contract to ensure the ceremony was not legally binding.
The pair were then married for real in a secret ceremony on October 6 — after Federline had signed the agreement that banned him from making any future claim against any assets his wife had prior to their marriage.
A source linked to the prenuptial negotiations said last night: 'Everyone thinks Britney is this hick from Louisiana but, in reality, she is an extraordinarily astute businesswoman who has built herself into a global brand.'
A great deal of her fortune was made prior to her marriage and, when Kevin signed the pre-nup, he waived any right to any part of Britney Incorporated.
Without a prenuptial agreement Britney, who built her fortune off the back of bubblegum hits such as Oops! I Did It Again and Baby One More Time could have been forced to split her empire 50-50.
The financial statements gathered for the 2004 pre-nup list total personal cash and assets at the time worth £16.92million.
Her biggest year for earnings, according to her income tax returns, was 2001 when she made £10.2 million. Current estimates put the value of her fortune now at £65m.
Britney, who has two sons with former back-up dancer Federline — 14-month-old Sean Preston and eight-week-old Jayden James - broke the news of the divorce to her husband via text message.
Her apparent relief at being free may also be down to the fact that, with her mighty fortune protected, she is still able to laugh all the way to the bank.
In the document referred to as the Smith and Jones Cohabitation/Prenuptial Agreement, Britney and her husband agree to each have a one-half share of their £5.2million home in Malibu.
The agreement bans Federline for getting his hands on any of the money Britney made before their marriage or any money she makes from pre-existing deals and contracts during their marriage.
Any gift worth more than £5,263 requires a legal document signed between the couple stating who will own it if they split. If there is no legal document, Federline will be forced to hand back gifts from Britney such as his Harley Davidson motorcycle and his Ferrari.
An early draft of the pre-nup puts a cap on spousal support at £18,947 per year of marriage. This was later amended to £157,894, though legal jargon effectively means he gets this for every TWO years of marriage. Each is banned from writing books or giving interviews about their relationship without the other's prior consent.
Britney's freefall career tumbles into Vegas kitsch
The rumours say it all. Britney Spears, once the biggest name in pop, is considering a move to Las Vegas, kitsch graveyard of the once famous.
Spears is known to have been offered more than $15m a year to be the resident act in a top Vegas hotel. Although that deal collapsed, a move to Sin City is still possible — she has an offer of a regular gig at the Palms and its new 2,500-seat performance space. She would be following in the footsteps of Elvis Presley, Barry Manilow and Celine Dion.
It has been a stunning turnaround for America's pop princess. Rarely in the annals of popular culture has one name soared so high so quickly and then fallen so far. Spears has gone from being a teen sensation to a 25-year-old twice-divorced, single mother-of-two whose career is on the rocks.
It all came to a head last week with the announcement of her plans to divorce her second husband, dancer Kevin Federline. He apparently received the news via a text message. To add insult to injury, the moment seemed to be caught on TV as Federline was with a film crew at the time. The clip then spread around the world courtesy of YouTube.
It summed up the all-intrusive fame that turned a young woman from the rural south first into a global star and then into a punchline in a celebrity joke. No wonder she has gone through two marriages before most young Americans go down the aisle once — her first, to a childhood friend, was annulled within days.
Spears began early, appearing in Disney's the Mickey Mouse Club at 11. In 1998, her first single, 'Baby One More Time', made her an international star largely on the back of its provocative video featuring Spears as a scantily dressed schoolgirl. More hit albums followed, a relationship with Justin Timberlake and a global obsession with whether she was a virgin.
A series of dreadful personal and professional decisions has wrecked a career that could once do no wrong. It has changed Spears from being compared to a young Madonna into a favourite butt of watercooler gossip.
Her first, brief, marriage, to childhood friend Jason Alexander, was conducted in a Vegas wedding chapel. Then came Federline, who was widely seen as using Spears to piggyback his own career. Then came Spears's disastrous decision to turn her second marriage into a reality TV show, Chaotic.
After that there was a series of incidents involving her young children, including one in which she drove with her baby in her lap. Finally, there is also a rumoured Spears and Federline sex tape. Spears recently sued an American magazine that reported on the existence of the tape. Bizarrely, she sued not over the existence of the tape itself, but because the magazine had suggested she was blase about it. A judge threw the case out, saying Spears had made a career out her sexuality.
That judgment, sums up what went wrong with Spears's career. She symbolised the hyper-sexuality demanded of American women in the modern era. It was the core of her appeal — but society wants younger, less maternal idols than her.
'It must be scary for her. At 25 she's considered ageing and shes not able to define a place for herself any more in popular culture,' said Wieselman.But it is not over yet. Spears's new album, due out at the start of next year, will be her chance to rescue her career. Free of Federline, it might be possible to launch a credible comeback. But she will need something special. 'It is make-or-break for her. But if anyone can do it, Britney can,' said Wieselman.
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