Celebrity lawyer Chris Murphy splits with wife of 25 years
Notoriously prickly Sydney lawyer Chris Murphy and his artist wife Agnes Bruck have separated after 25 years.
Last week close sources confirmed relations between the pair had deteriorated in recent times, leading to the couple's stormy break-up at the start of the year.
The outbreak of the pandemic in March is said to have forced the couple back under the same roof mid-year for the sake of their teenage son, Jessie, 14, who left his prestigious eastern suburbs boys school, Cranbrook, around the same time.
But now comes word the pair have split again, with Bruck and the couple's son now in residence at the family's Bondi apartment while Murphy is up the road in rental accommodation.
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Murphy could not be reached for comment yesterday.
According to well-placed sources, contributing further to the collapse of the couple's rocky union has been the recent poor health of both Murphy and Bruck.
Bruck, who is two decades Murphy's junior, is understood to have spent time in a Sydney hospital at the start of the year.
Murphy, who will be 72 this month, continues to battle the ravages of age and with it the associated deafness that has kept him from representing his famous clients in court during the past year.
That responsibility has increasingly gone to his less-bullish second-in-command Bryan Wrench, who this week was in court for another of Murphy's clients, one-time South Sydney pin-up boy Sam Burgess.
Yesterday close sources pointed out that while there isn't much Murphy doesn't know about criminal law, punting and the South Sydney Rabbitohs, there may still be a few things he has left to learn about women and divorce law.
Having famously helped celebrity clients Matthew Newton, Hazem El Masri and Shaun Kenny-Dowall defend domestic assault charges brought by their wives or police, Murphy could be in for a fierce fight in the divorce courts, with Bruck, or "the wife" as he'd no doubt call her in court if she were on the opposing side, now searching for a brilliant divorce lawyer.
Expertly and bloodlessly assisting her in her search are understood to be good friends socialite Heidi Onisforou, ex-wife of multi-millionaire property developer Theo Onisforou, Julie Singleton, ex of John Singleton, Shari-Lea Hitchcock, one-time mistress of Visy Industries boss Richard Pratt, and Emma Steel, the recently estranged wife of neurosurgeon Tim Steel, who made headlines earlier this year when it emerged she argued with the surgeon during their marriage over a $24,000 monthly allowance she found inadequate.
Murphy's fortune, it would seem, is as much a mystery to his estranged wife as it is to others.
In 2008 Murphy confirmed he had lost $100 million with the collapse of stockbroking company Opes Prime, giving an insight into the wheelings and dealings of the keen stockbroker-investor.
He said, at the time, the collapse of Opes had taken a great toll on his family, which also includes a daughter, Hope, now 19.
Between them Murphy and Bruck look to still be the owners of a substantial property portfolio.
Murphy historically invested in property across Sydney - in Avalon, Balmoral, Mosman, Neutral Bay, Surry Hills, Bondi, Woolloomooloo, Walsh Bay and as far afield as Junee, Cootamundra and Port Macquarie.
A property search last week confirmed he currently owns properties at Cameron Park and Richmond Lowlands.
Bruck meanwhile has just one property to her name - a house at Robertson.
Bruck and Murphy met in the mid-1990s when she was a struggling artist and he was on the rebound after his relationship with television presenter and model Lisa Patrick.
After accepting Murphy's offer of free studio space in East Sydney, Bruck, who was previously in a relationship with a stockbroker friend of Murphy's, soon fell for the lawyer's rough and ready charms.
With Murphy then already attached to some of Sydney's most powerful men - among them Kerry Packer and son James, broadcaster Alan Jones and actor Russell Crowe - Bruck found herself surrounded by some heady company and access to an array of controversial celebrities, notably Newton and the Burgesses, for her portraiture.
GEORGIE'S GRIM MOOD SPARKS SALARY-CUT SUSPICIONS
When Georgie Gardner's in a bad mood at work, it seems everyone knows. So there has been plenty of talk this past week concerning who or what may have gotten the better of the usually cool-headed Nine newsreader.
According to Nine insiders Gardner, who has spent the past week filling Peter Overton's chair at the helm of the 6pm news bulletin while Overton took a week off, was unable to keep her smile from slipping after receiving some unwelcome news at work last week.
It prompted speculation Gardner has been notified she'll be taking a pay cut in her latest contract negotiations.
Gardner was offered a large six-figure pay rise in 2017 to step into Lisa Wilkinson's shoes when Wilkinson left Nine's Today show for Ten.
Gardner's salary was said to have been increased by around $300,000 by her then BFF Nine CEO Hugh Marks, who believed Gardner was the only one capable of filling Wilkinson's shoes (Well, maybe after Carrie Bickmore … who is said to have knocked him back).
But that experiment soon failed, and while Gardner would hold onto her seat on Today for a second year after Stefanovic was benched at the end of 2018, she would finally get her marching orders from the show at the top of 2020, though not the pay adjustment many said was inevitable when the yawn-again Stefanovic returned.
In two months, the third year of Gardner's reported $750,000 Today contract will click over.
After swapping Artarmon for Mosman in January 2019 - and her $4.2 million home for a $6 million home in the process - a proposed pay cut could hurt, though husband Tim Baker, an investment banker, is surely earning enough to pay the mortgage.
With Nine still trimming salaries, Gardner may not be the only one in a bad mood.
CELEBRITY IS OUT OF THERE … AND OVER HERE
With Ten set to unveil its programming schedule for 2021 next Thursday when the TV broadcaster holds the advertising showcase known as the Upfronts, this column is tipping I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here … will be back.
After previously reporting the show would be cut because the COVID-19 restrictions meant it was impossible to shoot the program from South Africa, we're now hearing Ten will go ahead with the show from Murwillumbah following the decision by UK producer ITV to relocate its UK version of the show from Australia back to the UK, or specifically to North Wales.
With the Australian facility sitting idle it made sense to move the local version of the show to the wilds of Murwillumbah.
Tipped to be starring on the show is ballroom dancer Sharna Burgess, one of the judges on Channel 10's Dancing With The Stars which, as previously tipped here, is expected to be cancelled by the network next year, prompting Tristan MacManus to be moved onto the desk at Studio 10 for the remained of his 10 contract.
Burgess similarly will bring some sparkle to I'm A Celebrity … alongside a cast of retired sportsmen and some soon-to-be-restored celebrities.
Originally published as Celebrity lawyer Chris Murphy splits with wife of 25 years