England: husband wins custody of £64,000 piano in divorce battle
Millionaire American lawyer Richard Fields has succeeded in a custody battle over a Steinway baby grand piano worth £64,000 in a divorce battle with his wife, Ekaterina Parfenova.
A judge in the Family Division of the High Court in London said it would be absurd to ship the piano from New York to England.
The couple are locked in battle over Mr Fields’ £6 million in assets in a case which has so far cost an estimated £1.2m in legal fees.
Ms Parfenova, 42, a former beauty queen, said the piano was the only thing she wanted from the pair’s former home but Mr Fields said he bought it before their marriage and so should keep it.
Mr Justice Holman inquired as to how accomplished the pair were as pianists and was told Mr Fields did not play at all while Ms Parfenova was merely an amateur.
The court also heard how the piano held “particular resonance” for Mr Fields whose third wife took his first Steinway in their divorce settlement.
Stephen Trowell QC, for Mr Fields, said: “That wife took the piano from him.
“He had to relinquish the piano.
“He wanted such a piano.
“He went out and bought another such piano.”
Ms Parfenova said that her seven-year-old son was learning to play the instrument but the judge said “children hammering away do not need a Steinway baby grand”.
Mr Trowell said Ms Parfenova ought to find employment as an estate agent or at a jewellers rather than depend on Mr Fields to maintain her for the rest of her life.
He characterised her remark that she would prefer to find another husband as flippant.
Mr Trowell told the judge that Ms Parfenova was seeking a cash settlement of £2.6m but had reduced her maintenance demand for herself and the couple’s two children to £500,000, down from £750,000.
The hearing is ongoing.