Mel B has wiped out her multimillion Spice Girls’ fortune, a court was told, as the former pop star appeared at her bitter divorce battle for the first time. The singer, 42, faced Stephen Belafonte, who she says tortured her with years of physical and mental abuse, in court in Los Angeles on Friday.
The pair both have outstanding tax debts after making “improvident” lifestyle choices, Los Angeles Superior Court was told. Grace Jamra, representing Belafonte, said: “She wiped out all her Spice Girls’ money, approximately £50m, if not more.”
Mel B, whose real name is Melanie Brown, appeared in court in high-waisted black trousers and a white shirt with a black neck tie. She sat clutching a tissue at the far side of the court to the suited Belafonte and they were separated by four lawyers. Jacalyn Davis, representing Brown, spoke of their tax problems, saying they were “sustained through improvident lifestyle choices”.
“They never had money at the end of the year to pay their taxes,” she added. “All their community income was being spent and then some. In this marriage that would be Miss Brown’s income from the Spice Girls. “Prickly things happen when the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) doesn’t get paid.”
Brown previously won a temporary restraining order after arguing her husband is abusive and has links to the porn industry. Her lawyers claimed he was a danger to their child as a “convicted domestic violence offender” with an “extensive criminal history”. Ms Jamra argued the allegations were part of “an ongoing smear campaign”.
But Judge Lawrence Riff ruled Belafonte, 42, could only see five-year-old Madison twice a week at a supervised centre. Brown, now a judge on America’s Got Talent, married the film producer in Las Vegas in June 2007.
She filed for divorce on March 20 “irreconcilable differences”. The case was adjourned until after lunch.