Who is Libbie Mugrabi? Socialite who sought $100M settlement reopens divorce suit
Libbie Mugrabi has demanded the court invalidate their separation agreement and restart their settlement negotiations
A socialite who had reportedly asked for a hundred million dollars in her divorce from her supposedly adulterous husband is now reopening their divorce case, alleging her ex-husband deliberately damaged works by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol that he was ordered by a judge to give her.
The Mugrabi divorce, which has seen an enormous amount of New York press coverage, reached a settlement in December 2020. The media attention was there for a reason. After all, it dealt with one of the wealthiest and most influential families in the art world. David Mugrabi, the scion of a powerful art-dealing family that is reportedly worth $5 billion and owns some 1,000 works by Warhol — the world’s largest private holding — just could not agree with his spouse Libbie on the terms of the separation, which included art, real estate, alimony, and child support.
The problems in the settlement
Libbie Mugrabi had said back in February that she was “very happy” with the settlement she received, without disclosing the particulars of the deal. In April, a Manhattan Supreme Court judge ordered the exes to exchange artworks plus cars, including a vintage Ferrari, on May 6 in the Hamptons.
Yet on Monday, June 14, Libbie claimed in court documents that her ex had given her damaged art, valued well below the $16 million he had agreed they were worth. She reportedly consulted with an IRS-certified art appraiser who told her “the value of the art is worth substantially less” and that David “fraudulently misrepresented the value of the art he agreed to give [her],” and that he “tried to give [her] damaged art.”
Libbie alleged that the art was not damaged the last time she saw it, and David “purposely damaged the art he agreed to provide [her] under the separation agreement.” One of the works was a ‘Statue of Liberty’ by Warhol, reportedly worth $2 million, and the other was a Basquiat valued at $6.5 million. A source close to Libbie claimed the Warhol “has black lines from water damage” and “scratches,” and that the Basquiat is a “collage that was damaged” with “part of the paper lifting off the canvas.”
She also reportedly alleged that Lexapro, the antidepressant she was on when she signed the divorce deal, affected her judgment and that she had not realized she was agreeing to $79,000 a month in child support. She now wants it to be restored to nearly $100,000 a month. She has reportedly demanded the court invalidate their separation agreement and restart their settlement negotiations, claiming that David had “failed to timely pay his support obligation for at least the five months” before she signed the separation agreement, which she did “under duress” because it placed her in “financial desperation.”
Libbie, who got the couple’s Hamptons home in the divorce, also claimed that David has not provided a $7 million Manhattan apartment for her and their two teenage children and that she “would receive a Basquiat painting of the same value” in exchange.
Libbie’s divorce lawyer Ken Jewell said, “We have filed a complaint to set aside the separation agreement between David and Libbie Mugrabi given the unjust and predatory circumstances surrounding its execution, in addition to the fraud imposed upon Ms Mugrabi, as well as the financial and emotional abuse she has suffered from David Mugrabi as a result.”
Who is Libbie Mugrabi?
In a recent interview, Libbie compared herself and her marriage to Princess Diana. “I had the same thing as her — I got married young. She was told what to do and wear. And so was I,” she said. “You’re under control and under a rein. It doesn’t matter what’s fair or what you deserve... After divorce, you can breathe, free of the gilded cage.” She also said, “I married someone who thought he was better than me.”
Born Libbie Scher to a plastic surgeon father and a nurse mother, she grew up in Deal, New Jersey. As per a profile of the socialite, she enjoyed a Palm Beach vacation home and attended Orthodox day school.
At 22, when she had recently graduated from the New York Restaurant School, Libbie met David, then an art student eight years her senior. They met when they both were staying at the St Regis hotel in Aspen, Colorado. She described to the New York Times her courtship as a relatively modest period when her future husband lived in a one-bedroom apartment in Trump Tower. “He wasn’t the type of man that wanted to spoil me until after we got married,” she said.
She said that David casually proposed to her at the apartment in 2004. “He didn’t have a ring, but I said, ‘You don’t need a ring to propose,’” she said. The couple wed in 2005 at an extravagant ceremony at the Pierre hotel. “It was way over even what I wanted,” she said. “I knew about 30 people at my wedding. It had about 500 or 600.”
On July 4, 2018, David and Libbie hosted a dinner party for about 15 business associates, some of whom were also staying over at their nine-bedroom estate in the Hamptons. She said that she retired around 11.30 pm after a long night. When she woke around 6 am and came downstairs, she said she found her husband lying on top of a woman beneath a painting from Richard Prince’s ‘After Dark’ series. Both were naked. “She was naked on my couch with a towel on top of her, and he was sitting on the floor with his head lying on her breasts,” she said. This triggered the divorce.