Supermodel Linda Evangelista and ex-boyfriend Francois-Henri Pinault, a French business tycoon now married to actress Salma Hayek, faced off Thursday in the utilitarian environs of a Manhattan family court, where the question of how much it costs to raise a child today was center stage.
Ms. Evangelista wants a court to make the French billionaire pitch in for child-rearing expenses she has tallied at nearly $50,000 a month — for various expenses including armed bodyguards, round-the-clock nanny, as well as a second apartment maintained near her five-year-old son Augustin’s school for play-dates.
Ms. Evangelista, the 1980s and 1990s magazine-cover fixture who famously quipped that supermodels "don't wake up for less than $10,000 a day," has willingly paid all the boy's expenses for most of his life, but according to her lawyer, the model's roughly $1.8 million-a-year income took a major hit last year as a contract with L'Oreal ended.
So how much does raising a child cost for the average American family? Modern Parenthood offers these numbers from the 2010 Census:
There are currently 6,833,000 families in the US with children under 15 years old. The average weekly cost of child care among these families is about $138. The average monthly family income is $7,709 dollars. And the percentage of monthly family income spent on child care is 7.8 percent. Put another way, the average family spends about $600 a month on child care.
While it is fairly certain the average American family is also not budgeting for second apartments or armed bodyguards, it would seem that Ms. Evangelista’s estimated costs run vastly higher than those of your average working mother.
Mr. Pinault's camp seems to agree, and is so far is resisting the supermodel’s dollar figure. A potential $46,000-a-month tab is "just ridiculous," lawyer David Aaronson said.
Mr. Pinault, the chief executive of PPR, which owns Gucci, Yves St. Laurent, and other luxury brands, makes about $4 million a year from a complex of his family's companies; Forbes recently estimated the family's net worth at $13 billion. While he certainly can afford such a large sum, Mr. Pinault has argued that in fact Ms. Evangelista wants the money for her own lifestyle preferences, and not purely to support their child.
There is something of a precedent here, however. Mr. Pinault is not one to count pennies when it comes to his offspring.
Mr. Pinault and Hayek's 4-year-old daughter, Valentina, has been taken on a $52,000-plus 12-day vacation to Bora Bora, spends weekends at the Mr. Pinault family's country estate near Paris, has bodyguards at times to shield her from paparazzi, and has a $12 million Los Angeles home in a trust for her — a step Mr. Pinault said he took to reassure Hayek she and the girl would have a home if the couple parted.
By the time Augustin turns 18, the US Department of Agriculture estimates that average middle-income American parents will have spent about $222,360 on their kids, or 22 percent more, in real dollars, than parents spent on their children during the middle of the 1960s baby boom. If Ms. Evengelista gets what she’s asking, that estimate will be reached before her son learns simple division.
Ms. Evangelista is expected to testify later in the trial. At the end, Support Magistrate Paul Ryneski will make a ruling that the couple could accept or ask a judge to reconsider.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.