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Billionaire Donald Bren says he was shocked when he learned his girlfriend was pregnant

August 19, 2010 |  2:04 pm

Bren Billionaire land developer Donald L. Bren told a jury Thursday that he was shocked when he learned his former girlfriend was pregnant with his two children, who are now suing him for retroactive child support.

"I felt betrayed in that she promised me that she was protected," he said of Jennifer McKay Gold. "And obviously she wasn't."

The years-old legal battle has opened a window into the intensely private Bren, 78, who has an estimated net worth of $12 billion. On Thursday, the Irvine Co. chairman described his relationship with Gold as an infrequent, loveless romance.

"Did you ever tell Jennifer you loved her" asked attorney Hillel Chodos, who represents Gold and her adult children.

"No, sir" Bren replied.

"Are you sure?" Chodos asked.

"I'm sure," Bren said.

Bren's children with Gold -- Christie Bren, 22, and David Bren, 18 -- are seeking retroactive child support in the amount of $400,000 a month each. They contend that out-of-court payments Bren made to them and their mother were well below what would have been awarded in a family court.

Bren's attorneys claim his financial support has been generous.

Bren's daughter and son looked on as the real estate magnate recounted how he met their mother. The two were introduced by a mutual friend, and several weeks later Gold sent him a note asking him to get a drink, Bren said.

They had been seeing each other infrequently for a few years when Gold told him she was pregnant with their first child, he said. Because of their "unconventional relationship" and the risk his wealth posed for kidnappings and extortion attempts, they agreed to have the baby discreetly, he said.

Gold left Los Angeles for Aspen, Colo., where she spent the final months of her pregnancy and gave birth, Bren said.

The potentially massive payments Bren is being asked to pay are deserved, attorneys for the Bren children say, given the $3 million to $5 million a month they contend he was spending during the years he would have been paying formal child support.

Bren's attorney has disputed that amount, but Gold has said that Bren enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle, including a fleet of five jets with two full-time pilots, a 240-foot yacht with crew, lavish homes in Bel-Air and Orange County, a ranch in Idaho and a large staff of servants.

-- Robert Faturechi at L.A. Superior Court

Photo: Donald Bren leaves court Wednesday. Credit: Reed Saxon / Associated Press