Billionaire Donald Bren denies he loved mother of his two children
Billionaire land developer Donald L. Bren said in court Wednesday that he never loved his former girlfriend and that all the notes and gifts he sent her over the years were a mere show of affection rather than love.
Bren, chairman of the Irvine Co., spoke in a Los Angeles courtroom, where his two adult children with former girlfriend Jennifer Gold are seeking retroactive support of about $400,000 a month each.
"I was attracted to Jennifer, she and I had a dating relationship. I never told her I loved her," Bren said after lawyers showed him cards and notes he had signed with messages such as "lots and lots of love and big kisses."
When asked what he meant by the notes, Bren said: "There's is a big difference to me in sending a happy birthday card with the printing "with love" on it as opposed to telling someone I am so in love with you I would be engaged with you and marry you and have your children. I never said that to Jennifer."
Bren was asked by one of his lawyers if he regretted not spending more time with Christie Bren, 22, and David Bren, 18.
Gold testified later that "it was pretty shocking" to hear Bren speak that way about her and their children.
"It’s cruel to say these things in front of his children," Gold said outside the courtroom. “They're upset and angry. My son, he keeps it in. My daughter is very sensitive. It affects her a lot and her self esteem."
Bren has said he provided well for the children over the years and looks forward to paying for their college educations.
"Education is the most important gift a person can make to a child," he said in court. "It would allow those two children to grow up and be successful in their own right and not rely on anyone else but themselves to become productive and happy human beings."
Gold said Christie had already graduated from college and plans to study film editing. David will start classes at Boston University next week. Gold has been a homemaker and dabbled in sculpting, including studying in Italy to learn how to work with marble.
"It’s not that we are poor, that’s not the point," said the former model. "I just want [my children] to have what is theirs. It is their birthright."
-– Ching-Ching Ni
Photo: David Bren, left, and mother Jennifer Gold last week. Credit: Reed Saxon / Associated Press