The celebrity couple have been raking in the cash, but their sheen is beginning to fade.
In his half-century on the public highways, this columnist is proud to report he has never once been convicted of a motoring offence. The secret to this blemish-free record? A personal chauffeur. Nonetheless, one was suitably disgusted to learn that a certain David Beckham “has swerved a speeding fine after his lawyer, dubbed ‘Mr Loophole’, successfully argued that, despite driving too fast, the notice of prosecution was defective”, as Jamie Johnson reports in the Daily Telegraph. Specifically, despite being “caught driving a Bentley at 59mph in a 40mph zone”, the former footballer escaped punishment because the notice arrived late.
But we shouldn’t be surprised by such a “grubby evasion”, says Alison Boshoff in the Daily Mail. Beckham is so “shameless” that “he took the occasion of his wife receiving an OBE last year to plug a brand of whisky he endorses”. Much of his post-football career “has amounted to a cynical cash-n-grab” that has turned the former star and his wife into a “moneyspinning phenomenon” that makes him an estimated £52m a year “just from lending his name, face and body to all sorts of commercial ventures”. Indeed, experts estimate that “he’s actually more valuable now than when he was on the pitch”.
He’s no slouch when it comes to his attempts to lower his tax bill, either. He once turned down a charity event with the Queen “because he was non-domiciled for tax reasons at the time”. His involvement with a tax-avoiding film investment scheme proved so contentious that it counted as a “red flag” four years ago when he was put forward for a knighthood, but not given one. After this latest disgrace, “you have to really wonder how much longer the public will continue buying into the tarnished Brand Beckham”.
The empress’s new clothes
Still, if David has been raking in the cash, his wife’s business ventures have had more mixed success. The first catwalk show of Victoria’s fashion label last month was “a carefully choreographed tenth birthday party for her fashion brand, with a lavish Vogue cover shoot and £115 T-shirts celebrating the milestone”, reports Iram Ramzan in the Times. But “harder-nosed fashionistas” may “wonder if the jamboree could be more fairly badged the empress’s new clothes”.
Detailed analysis of the company’s accounts suggests “the loss-making and debt-ridden venture is not a business success story worth toasting”. Despite £169m in sales over the entire eight-year period, “Victoria Beckham Limited has racked up losses of nearly £12m, equal to about £4,000 a day”, and has “broken even in just four financial years”. David has been forced to step in to bail out the company with “substantial loans”.
Still, all may be not lost, as there are hopes that “new investors and stewardship may finally boost the label’s profitability”. In any case, if Victoria is ever short of a few bob, she has other options. A Spice Girls reunion tour could prove to be a “lucrative use of her time”.
Tabloid money… Britain could use a Trump-style boost
• My blood was boiling last week over Conwy County Council’s decision to cut household waste collections to once every four weeks, says Saira Khan in the Sunday Mirror. And that’s after a one-month trial of the service two years ago in the north Wales town led to complaints from exasperated residents over an invasion of rats, seagulls and flies. It’s all in a misguided bid to get more households recycling. But as a mum of two, despite doing all the recycling I can, my bin’s brimming after just a week. The council says this will save £390,000 a year, yet it’s just gone ahead with a move to new offices that will cost taxpayers £1.5m a year in rent. No wonder the locals of Conwy think their council is rubbish.
• American fashion house Michael Kors has splashed out $2.1bn to buy rival designer label Versace, says Nick Ferrari in the Sunday Express. Along with other deals ranging from the TV giant Comcast buying Sky to a US firm possibly buying up the Casino supermarket chain in France, the value of takeovers and acquisitions from the US is a record £3.2trn. Yes, trillion!
Say what you like about Donald Trump, the mood of aggressive optimism due to soaring stock prices and economic growth cannot be underestimated. Under the leadership of Trump, rejuvenated American firms have begun an unprecedented spending spree. Surely many of us would like some of that to bolster British business confidence?
• First Man, starring Ryan Gosling as astronaut Neil Armstrong, is an extraordinary new film, says Lorraine Kelly in The Sun. You will be moved to tears and laugh out loud as you get to know these incredible pioneers who risked everything for the Apollo 11 moon mission.
So it’s a shame that, while Nasa continues to carry out unmanned missions to Mars and Jupiter, “space tourism” has been left to billionaires such as Elon Musk, who will mostly be doing it for the bragging rights. I would rather have proper explorers up in space than a bunch of the spoiled super-rich guzzling champagne and complaining about the lobster being too tough. We must not lose sight of what space travel cost the first man on the moon and his family.