Renate Blauel changed identity to shed ties
Sir Elton John’s ex-wife Renate Blauel adopted a new identity and went into hiding in a British village in an attempt to shed her connection to the singer, according to court filings in her multimillion pound legal case against the songwriter.
Blauel is seeking substantial damages from John, which could be as high as £3m, claiming he has caused her deep psychological distress by repeatedly breaching a 1988 divorce agreement to not discuss their marriage.
Blauel, who has studiously avoided all publicity for the last three decades, has filed proceedings at the high court against her former husband in the wake of the publication of John’s autobiography and the associated film Rocketman.
New legal documents lay bare the extent to which German-born Blauel has tried to escape her former relationship with the singer and struggled with her mental health.
Court filings submitted by her lawyers claim:
Blauel changed her name by deed poll in 2001 to a new, unknown identity in order to shed her old connection to John. She has changed her legal name back to Blauel for the length of this legal case in order to protect her new identity.
Blauel told her British friends in 2001 that she was moving to Germany to care for her parents, before confiding in just four close associates that in reality she was really remaining in the UK and adopting a new identity.
In a bid to avoid press interest Blauel bought her new home in the name of a friend and hid all possessions indicating her identity as Elton John’s ex-wife before the removal men arrived.
Blauel has also changed her appearance in order to avoid being linked to her old life.
Blauel said that as a result of taking such measures until recently “she was living quietly and privately” in a village with a new partner. She had successfully stopped being known as John’s former wife “and expected that she would continue to do so for the rest of her life”.
She claims her new life was upended when she learned through a television advert, shortly before its 2019 release, that John had made an autobiographical film called Rocketman which featured their marriage and that an accompanying autobiography was about to be released which included details of their relationship.
The pair married in Australia in 1984 at a time when John was struggling with his sexuality. According to Blauel, when the pair separated four years later their divorce settlement included a clause banning either side from discussing “the marriage or the reasons for the separation” except in confidential conversations with their immediate family or legal advisers.
Blauel’s lawyers claim her attempts to make last-minute changes to John’s autobiography were largely ignored and she particularly objected to passages implying her marriage to John was a sham.
She says that the pair “did attempt to have children during their relationship but were unable to do so”, contrary to John’s claims that he did not want a family until he met his current husband David Furnish.
Her lawyers say she has struggled with her mental health following her divorce and received repeated rounds of electric shock therapy. They claim she had since largely recovered but as a result of the Rocketman film she has suffered a “devastating mental relapse” with “recurring nightmares, agoraphobia, anxiety, depression, fear, and has had to relive her past constantly” requiring expensive ongoing medical support.
Blauel’s lawyer, Yisrael Hiller, said one informal estimate of potential damages to Blauel caused by John’s actions was as high as £3m. He added: “In 1988 Elton agreed to respect her privacy but has since repeatedly ignored this promise; the lawsuit only deals with his breaches over the recent past but there have been many other breaches.”
“When Renate learned, only days before the publication deadline, that Elton was writing an autobiography, she urgently tried to secure the removal of passages about her but Elton refused. Elton didn’t even bother to ask her for permission to include her in the film and it came as a complete shock to her that Elton decided to feature her in it.”
“Renate is particularly upset by the film which is inaccurate, misleading and insulting. In her mind, the film seeks to portray their marriage as a sham, which she wholeheartedly disputes and considers a false and disrespectful portrayal of their time together.
“All of these breaches have caused her tremendous harm, suffering and damage and she has had enough. Renate wants the privacy that was promised to her – that is why she is seeking an injunction. Any claim for monetary relief is secondary, and would just cover damages and future expenses caused by Elton’s breaches.”
In his defence, John’s lawyers argue that many of the aspects of their marriage were already in the public domain and the reasons for their divorce were already public – namely that he is a gay man who who wanted to be in a relationship with another man.
They also said it was not possible to hold John responsible for Blauel’s mental health since she had struggled well before the release of the Rocketman film and his autobiography. Both sides accept that an attempt was made to contact Blauel prior to the release of the film but she claims she did not receive the emails.
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