Jimmy Choo shoe founder files suit against mother

LOS ANGELES Wed Jan 23, 2008 8:00pm EST

Tamara Mellon, co-founder of Jimmy Choo shoe company, arrives at the GQ Man of the Year awards in London, September 5, 2006. Mellon filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against her estranged mother, seeking $10 million in damages stemming from the 2004 sale of the business. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

Tamara Mellon, co-founder of Jimmy Choo shoe company, arrives at the GQ Man of the Year awards in London, September 5, 2006. Mellon filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against her estranged mother, seeking $10 million in damages stemming from the 2004 sale of the business.

Credit: Reuters/Luke MacGregor

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The co-founder of the Jimmy Choo shoe boutique beloved by celebrities filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against her estranged mother, seeking $10 million in damages stemming from the 2004 sale of the business.

Tamara Mellon, the British businesswoman and socialite who turned Jimmy Choo into a luxury shoe brand, filed a civil complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court against her mother and former Chanel model, Ann Yeardye, who lives in Beverly Hills.

Mellon's U.S. lawyer, Bert Fields, said the lawsuit deals with the 2004 sale of Jimmy Choo, in which both Mellon and Yeardye held an interest through family trusts.

According to the complaint, Yeardye, who Fields said had never been involved in the business, insisted on receiving her share entirely in cash.

This required Mellon to take the stock. But, by mistake, half of the stock that was supposed to go to Mellon was transferred instead to Yeardye, who has repeatedly refused to return it, the lawsuit said.

The complaint seeks $10 million in damages for breach of contract and related wrongdoing.

Mellon said in a statement that she had been forced to take legal action after trying other means to settle the dispute.

"I am baffled by my mother's refusal to return assets which rightfully do not belong to her," she said.

Yeardye could not be reached for comment.

Mellon, a former editor at Vogue magazine, co-founded Jimmy Choo Ltd in London in 1996 and helped turn the pricey high-heeled shoes into must-have accessories on the hit TV show "Sex and the City" and on Hollywood red carpets.

The company was sold in November 2004 to Phoenix Equity Partners. In February 2007, it was sold for the third time in six years, this time to a group led by private equity firm TowerBrook Capital at a value of 185 million pounds (then $364.1 million).

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant, editing by Dan Whitcomb)

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