‘She has chosen to have a very specific look’: a strange encounter with the Catwoman and her decades-younger fiancé

Jocelyn Wildenstein is ready for the cameras – well, almost. The New York socialite – known as the Catwoman – has spent a small fortune on her striking appearance, so naturally she won’t be rushed.

After three hours, she’s finally ready to go.

The Jocelyn Wildenstein of today looks nothing like the Swiss teenager who moved to Paris in the early 60s. From humble beginnings, Jocelyn was soon mixing with Europe’s jetsetters – regularly holidaying in Africa, where she met billionaire art dealer Alec Wildenstein on a hunting safari.

They married and raised two children on this huge estate in Kenya, where their wildly extravagant lifestyle was like something out of the colonial past.

The property was huge. “80,000 acres,” Jocelyn explains. “You dedicated a large part of your life to building that place, to sculpting it. We wanted to create a game reserve to preserve the most beautiful animals.”

It was while Jocelyn was in Africa that she not only discovered her love of animals, but also an enduring obsession with cosmetic surgery.

“You know, I think plastic surgery is the way you keep your skin,” Jocelyn says. “I have flawless skin.”

The speculation is that Jocelyn created her feline appearance to appeal to her hunter husband’s love of big cats.

But no amount of plastic surgery could save the relationship – their 20-year marriage ended in scandal when Jocelyn caught him with another woman, and he pulled two pistols on her.

Jocelyn filed for divorce and walked away with one of the world’s largest settlements ever – a whopping US$2.5 billion (AU$3.5 billion).

Jocelyn was single and wealthier than ever when she met Frenchman Lloyd Klein, a fashion designer, who was 21 years younger than her. Fifteen years later, and Jocelyn and Lloyd have been together ever since, with Lloyd taking almost a decade to propose.

When he did pop the question, he did it in style – he proposed with a 32-carat engagement ring at the famed Versace Villa in Miami Beach.

When they’re out in public, Jocelyn and Lloyd understandably turns heads.

Standing out in the crowd has been a costly exercise – by some accounts, Jocelyn has spent $4 million on plastic surgery. It’s led to her being labelled everything from The Bride of Wildenstein to the Lion Queen to her most famous nickname, Catwoman.

The term makes Jocelyn laugh. “One Catwoman in the world! It’s amazing because you have to have a sense of humour, it’s a must.”

Lloyd sees only beauty in Jocleyn’s feline features. “She’s an inspiration for a designer. She has designed herself. She has chosen to have a very specific look.”

Despite winning the immense divorce settlement from her philandering husband, Jocelyn recently filed for bankruptcy.

But, according to court documents, Jocelyn is still a long way from destitute. Her bankruptcy filing reveals she has property worth $16 million and a $35,000 Bentley – but she values her wardrobe at a very modest $1,000.

Things seem so dire for Jocelyn, she actually receives $900 a month from social security. “It’s something like a cloud – it passes in the sky. I [will] not worry,” Jocelyn explains. But will there be blue skies ahead? “Yes, definitely.”

Given their eccentricities, there was plenty for Jocelyn and Lloyd to laugh about, but when asked a few too many questions about Jocelyn’s late husband and the couple’s finances – and not enough about Lloyd’s career in fashion – things became tense.

“Everyone, let’s pack up and go,” yells Lloyd at the Sunday Night crew. After an interesting few days filming with Jocelyn and Lloyd, the couple storm out, marking the end of a very strange interview.

 

Reporter: Matt Doran

Producer: Andrea Keir