London, April 20: Arun Nayar’s estranged wife, Valentina Pedroni, has accused Liz Hurley of “stealing” her husband.
Pedroni, a former Italian-born model — has retained a dignified silence herself but has now allowed a friend, Miss Rosita Celentano, an Italian TV presenter, to do the talking for her.
Celentano’s remarks do appear to have the ring of truth for they paint the portrait of a wife, who had agreed to a trial separation from her husband, but discovered to her dismay that a friend had moved in for the kill.
It seems that Pedroni — at 33, she is four years younger than 37-year-old Hurley — still retains hopes of rescuing her marriage.
Pedroni’s sentiments were summed up by Celentano: “I was kind and sweet to Liz and then look what she does; she goes and steals my husband from me. She has had no scruples at all and if she knew any better she should have stayed away. Liz knew Arun was married but that didn’t stop her. They carried on behind my back and I knew nothing.”
Celentano’s interview appears today in The Mail on Sunday which reports that Pedroni had returned to Milan from Mumbai, “prompting speculation that she had made a last-ditch attempt at reconciliation”.
Hurley met Nayar, who is also 37, at a party at the Nayars’ chalet in St Moritz, Switzerland, towards the end of last year. At that time, Nayar and his wife had just agreed on a period of separation but she apparently “hoped to rescue the marriage”.
According to Celentano, “Valentina has been left very upset by what has happened. We met Liz through mutual friends and we were all having afternoon tea. Something about Liz didn’t immediately click with me but Valentina thought Liz was lovely — now I have been telling her I was right all along. Valentina is very private and will never say a bad word about anyone, but she has been left distraught. She would rather none of this had come out but that has not happened.”
The report suggests that Hurley and Nayar are serious about each other — “Hurley is planning another trip to Bombay (that’s how the West still refers to it) next month to look for a second home. She has told friends that she fell in love with the Indian city and wants to divide her time between London and Bombay.”
But Pedroni may fight to save her marriage. “Valentina still has feelings for her husband. She hopes it will not end this way — they have known each other for more than 10 years and she still wants to remain friends,” said Celentano.
Nayar and his wife are still on speaking terms, added the informant. “There have not been any screaming matches and she is still on amicable terms with him. Valentina made a big sacrifice to move to Bombay with Arun when they got married. I know how much she loved him. Valentina is still in touch with Arun and I think deep down she hopes they can sort this out.”
Judging by the profile of Nayar in today’s Sunday Times, which has got rather late into this soap opera, it is not clear why Pedroni is bothering.
“Liz’s new man' He’s no catch back in Bombay,” is the Sunday Times headline.
The paper has not really uncovered any hidden skeletons in Nayar’s cupboard but recirculates an old remark by the novelist and commentator Shobhaa De: “I know him and I think he is an obnoxious and arrogant brat. He is trading on his good looks.”
Readers are told: “Eleven years ago he met Valentina Pedroni, a blonde part-time model, in her home town of Milan. After a four-year courtship they married in Bombay, where Pedroni settled in but attracted comment for wearing excessive jewellery and sending the couple’s dog to Italy when it needed a vet. However, Pedroni’s friend, the journalist Anuradha Mahindra, describes her as ‘the sweetest, gentlest and kindest person I know’.”
Sides are being taken.
Nayar’s Indian friends have been understanding. “He is actually a very nice guy,” said one. “Marriages do break up and someone is always left behind. The truth is that Arun’s and Valentina’s marriage had been over for a while.”
Pedroni’s family seems to believe otherwise. Anna Maria Pedroni, her mother, has said that Nayar’s affair was just “a seven-year-itch fling” and that Hurley would not last the course: “Valentina and Arun are just going through one of those crises that all couples go through when they are married. I am sure they will get back together.”
Nayar, who is the son of Vinod, an Indian father, and Gunar, a German mother, is quite desi in one respect. He is said to be upset that he and his wife have not had children. Reports of Nayar’s wealth have also been challenged: he won’t be able to get his hands on his mother’s money while she is still alive.