“[Ikin] deserves to have the questions around how he died answered once and for all, it really should not have taken all these years,” she said.
Music industry legend Molly Meldrum, London-based John Reid who managed Elton John for many years and was portrayed in the film Rocketman, actor Simon Burke and many of Ikin’s lesser-known Sydney friends contacted by PS this week shared the view that Despallieres’ day in court had been a long time coming.
“It does seem like a very hopeful development but after 11 years of longing for justice to be served,” said Burke, who attended Ikin’s civil service wedding in London to Despallieres.
Ikin’s supporters have also been buoyed by news that two of Despallieres’ alleged accomplices have also been indicted by the French judiciary to face forgery charges over the former Warner Music executive’s $20 million estate. Despallieres had initially claimed to be the sole beneficiary of the fortune, but he reached an out-of-court settlement with Ikin’s Australian relatives when they challenged his claim and the will was found to be a forgery.
Eighteen months after Ikin was found dead in a Paris hotel, police detained Despallieres and his personal assistant, Jeremy Bilien, for whom Despallieres bought a new Porsche after claiming Ikin’s estate. Another man, Vincent Bray, who identified as Bilien’s lover and was named as a witness to the forged will, was also arrested.
All three denied accusations of foul play and were eventually released on bail, pending the decision by a Paris judge on whether they would face charges. A decade later, that decision finally arrived this week.
It was the dead 62-year-old’s friends, namely Reid and Burke, who became suspicious, even as Despallieres wept in the dank funeral chapel at Paris’s famous Pere Lachaise cemetery. Reid and Burke had rushed from London to be there for the hurriedly organised cremation, held two days after Ikin died.
Reid, along with another of Ikin’s oldest friends, Rod Stewart’s former manager Billy Gaff, refused to believe it was simply a heart attack. They ordered a toxicology report after discovering that under French law a blood sample must be taken after death and kept for one year. With only weeks to go before the first anniversary of his death, the report found Ikin died with “lethal” doses of paracetamol in his system.
Meldrum has previously told PS he was suspicious when Despallieres, 20 years Ikin’s junior, “moved so quickly to claim the estate … it was all very odd”.
Over the years, PS has interviewed a range of other people who have cast doubt on Despallieres’ story, including his former sister-in-law, Peta Campbell, who made a report to French police after she raised suspicions about how Despallieres’ own parents had died.
She accused Despallieres of being “a dangerous, accomplished conman”, a claim he vehemently denied at the time when PS tracked him down in Paris.
“I am grieving the death of my husband, these claims are very hurtful,” he said before refusing to answer any further questions.
In 2012 he was interviewed on Seven’s Sunday Night program and flatly denied murdering Ikin.
Despallieres and Ikin met in San Francisco in 1987, and their courtship involved luxury cruises, travelling the world and mingling with the rich and famous.
After a few months Despallieres disappeared from Ikin’s life, only to resurface six months before his death. He turned up on Ikin’s Sydney doorstep accompanied by Bilien. Ikin told friends Despallieres had become a wealthy internet entrepreneur, but that he would soon die of a brain tumour.
Just a month after the pair married in a London civil ceremony, Despallieres, Ikin and Bilien holidayed in Paris, staying at the Abba Montparnasse Hotel. It was here Ikin was found dead.
Concerns were raised when Despallieres texted Ikin’s former assistant to say her old boss and friend had fallen down a flight of stairs but was refusing medical treatment – odd, as Ikin was known to be fastidious about his health.
It later emerged that Ikin had in fact been admitted to a Paris hospital three times in the three days before he died.
Soon after the funeral, Despallieres’ lawyer made a claim on Ikin’s millions, using a single-page photocopy of a will witnessed not by an attorney, but by Bilien and Bray.
The men then took up residence in Ikin’s Victorian home in London’s swanky Cheyne Place, with reports of decadent soirees and Despallieres buying three Porsches – one for himself and the others for his new housemates.
In the months and years that followed Ikin’s death, other bizarre stories about Despallieres emerged – including the tale of an elderly but wealthy widow in Los Angeles who met the handsome young Frenchman on a sunbed by the pool at the swish Beverly Hills Hotel.
Marcelle Becker, who had recently lost her own stepson, formally adopted Despallieres, a grown man, in 2005, three years before he reappeared by Ikin’s side.
The French TV news show Sept a Huit reported in 2010 that she annulled the adoption after she began to suspect he tried to poison her.
“He’s so dangerous,” she later told a journalist from Bloomberg.
“I was lucky to get out of it. I don’t want to get involved.”
Jackie O swears she plugs for love, not profit
Given she is reportedly one half of a $100 million media power couple, radio star Jackie “O” Henderson ruffled a few feathers with her comments slamming social media influencers for promoting “unnecessary” products on Instagram.
“I’m really getting over it! I’m really getting over Instagram and people flogging products and doing ads. I just don’t like it too much,” she wailed on air.
“If you do it every now and then and you feel it suits you and it fits with your brand, I think, ‘Fine, do it’.”
This from a woman who has many posts on her own Insta feed featuring links to various products, from hair styling contraptions to tropical resorts.
Henderson later explained to PS: “I personally receive requests to do paid posts all the time, but I knock back at least 95 per cent of those offers if they feel like they’re just an ad. I think I’ve done maybe four paid posts in the last five years and all of those have been products I’d already used or love.”
What about all those flash holidays at billionaire Lang Walker’s private island resort Kokomo?
“I’m not paid by Kokomo to post about my holidays, nor do I receive free trips from them. I know the people who own the island, and after visiting five times in the last three years I have a beautiful relationship with the people who run it, and I genuinely want to support the island because I love the people there, they have become like family to us.”
Andrew Hornery is a senior journalist and Private Sydney columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald.