When a marriage falls apart, even the angriest of husbands probably wouldn’t bother laying claim to his wife’s shoes.
But then, most wives don’t have a footwear collection worth £640 000 (more than R8.4 million).
US hedge fund manager Daniel Shak is suing his ex-wife, Beth, for 35 percent of all the shoes she owns, claiming she kept them hidden as they thrashed out a £2 million divorce settlement.
Mr Shak alleges she hoarded the 1 200 pairs - more than half of which are by Christian Louboutin - in a “secret room” in their exclusive apartment.
But Mrs Shak, a professional poker player, branded her ex-husband’s move as harassment, said he must have known about the shoes - and vowed to “fight him all the way”.
The couple, who have three children together, split up in 2009. Mr Shak remained in their £4.7 million apartment, which he has since sold for a £120 000 profit.
Last year, however, he lost a reported £4.5 million on the gold market. He has now filed the lawsuit against his ex-wife. It states: “In the summer of 2011, Daniel became aware that Beth owned and failed to disclose an extensive … collection of Christian Louboutin shoes … and other high-end designer shoes.
“Dan trusted his wife and was not inspecting his home to try to find inventory or ‘secret rooms’.” The collection is indeed vast and includes 700 pairs of Louboutins, costing from £450 to £2 800.
That, combined with her reputation as a World Series poker player, has made Mrs Shak something of a celebrity in the US. She has appeared on television to discuss her shoe habit, and is starting to design her own range of footwear.
The 42-year-old’s devotion to Louboutin is such that she has described his creations as “fine art” and even has a tattoo of one of his heels.
The collection includes dozens of pairs of strappy silver sandals, black kitten heels and leopard print pumps, all in her own size five.
Mrs Shak’s most expensive shoes are a pair of black and white cowboy boots once owned by Elizabeth Taylor. She keeps them in a glass cabinet of their own with a framed picture of the actress on the wall above, although she refused to reveal how much they cost.
She now lives in a luxurious house near Philadelphia with her two youngest children Lindy, 17, and Austin, 15 - and has four storage areas around the property for all her footwear. The main closet, which can only be entered using a numerical keypad has eight racks, each full of shoes, going from the floor to the ceiling.
There is also a separate rack in another room, where she keeps her formal shoes, and another cupboard for the remainder.
Mrs Shak claims she has always funded her habit with her poker winnings, although by some counts she has won only £300 000 during her six years in the game. She said: “There are shoes that I don’t even remember buying. I’m so short of space I had to give a couple of hundred pairs away.
“Sometimes I pull a pair out that I don’t remember and feel like I got a pair of shoes for free.”
She added that it would be “ludicrous” if she had actually kept her habit a secret from her husband when they shared the apartment in New York.
“I’m shaking my head over this whole thing,” she said. “He is saying he didn’t know the closet in our master bedroom existed.”
Asked if she has become addicted, she said: “I don’t have an addiction to shoes because they’re a want, and definitely not a need.” Mrs Shak’s collection beats that of Mariah Carey, who reportedly owns 1 000 pairs.
But it’s smaller than Celine Dion’s, who is said to own around 3 000 - the same number collected by Imelda Marcos, the infamous first lady of the Philippines. Asked if she gets compared to Marcos, Mrs Shak laughed: “Yes, it’s so bad!”
Mr Shak, 52, who runs SHK Asset Management in New York, said: “I take offence at her statement where she says I am claiming to have no knowledge of her master bathroom closet.”
The case is now going through the courts. - Daily Mail