Celebrity shop owner sues ex-friend in fight to collect £ 1.3million ‘loans’


The boss of a celebrity clothing store is suing his former friend for claiming she stole £ 1.3million from him by claiming to be “as rich as a Rothschild”.

Bridget Hutchcroft, 60, who runs Knightsbridge-based designer clothing agency Pandora, has accused Ekaterina Barrett of taking her savings from a series of loans she now refuses to repay.

Alleging a “fraudulent misrepresentation,” Ms Hutchcroft says Ms Barrett, 64, posed as a “multi-millionaire” to get the money while she was going through a divorce.

However, Ms Barrett – described by the High Court as a ‘connoisseur of high-end couture and designer fashion’ – insists the money was paid to her for the sale of luxury clothing from her collection. , as well as for the reimbursement of travel expenses in Monaco. Ms Hutchcroft has launched legal action to recover £ 1.3million, claiming the loss of her savings made her ill and threatened to lose her home.

On Ms. Hutchcroft’s Pandora Store website near Harrods, Princess Diana, Catherine Zeta Jones, and Ava Gardner are mentioned as former customers.

Her attorney, Daniel Burkitt, said in written court documents that the two women met in mid-2017 in Pandora, when the shop owner “made Ms. Barrett’s two greyhounds shine.”

Ms Barrett is accused of posing as “fabulously rich”, as a beneficiary of a trust fund and not needing to work. Ms Hutchcroft says Ms Barrett’s bank manager also told her her wealth was “equivalent to that of a Rothschild”.

In September 2017, Ms Barrett allegedly requested a “short-term loan” due to a cash flow problem with the trust fund, the court said, and “quickly increased her initial requests, saying she was in the process of divorce her English husband … and needed money to pay his lawyers.

Ms Hutchcroft said she was “under pressure” to continue lending money – totaling £ 1,368,524.19 – and said she continued to receive WhatsApp photos of Ms Barrett from sumptuous shopping sprees.

“Ms Barrett’s conduct is consistent with taking advantage of Ms Hutchcroft,” said Mr Burkitt, calling her “exploitative.” In her defense, Ms Barrett insists she is wealthy, with a house in Curzon Square, Mayfair, but denies bragging about her wealth to get money from her former friend.

Her attorney Edward Cumming QC said: “She has, at all times of the facts, owned a valuable collection of high end fashion items including clothing and accessories, and from time to time has sought to sell various items. . “

He said that Ms Hutchcroft and Pandora “took advantage of Ms Barrett’s kindness – at a delicate time for her as she came to terms with the end of her marriage and the death of her new partner – to gain possession of hundreds of Valuable objects”.

Designer handbags and watches have been sold to Pandora, he said, and Ms Barrett is suing Ms Hutchcroft for returning the items. The alleged loans “never existed,” he added. Ms Barrett’s assets have been frozen in the High Court lawsuit, which is due to be tried next year.

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