A driver who chauffeured heiress Tamara Ecclestone and her husband Jay Rutland was furloughed at the taxpayers’ expense – and then dismissed from his job. Mr Rutland and Ms Ecclestone are pictured together above
A driver who chauffeured heiress Tamara Ecclestone and her husband Jay Rutland was furloughed at the taxpayers’ expense – and then dismissed from his job.
Tony Richardson was employed to drive Mr Rutland by the Maddox Gallery as a perk of his role as founder, creative director and public face.
The driver was furloughed during lockdown, which began in March, with the Government’s job retention scheme used to pay up to 80 per cent of his wages.
He was made redundant in June when the couple flew to Croatia for the summer. The cost to the taxpayer of Mr Richardson’s furlough is an estimated £5,000.
Ms Ecclestone is reportedly worth £250 million, while her father, Formula 1 boss Bernie, is said to be worth ten times that amount.
The Maddox Gallery, which has its headquarters in Notting Hill, West London, displays work by top artists such as Banksy, Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst and Grayson Perry.
Last night, a source told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Jay was given the driver as a perk and because everyone was in lockdown, there was nothing for him to do. It made no sense to keep him, so he was placed on furlough by the Maddox Gallery, who used the Government scheme to pay him.
‘It is a company which felt it needed to use the job retention scheme to ensure staff were paid. While nothing against the rules happened, the Maddox is plush and flashy, with some very famous people involved, so morally it was perhaps something they should have thought twice about.’
While Mr Rutland is not a listed director of the Maddox Gallery, he is its public face.
When it opened in 2015, he threw a lavish party with guests including retail billionaire Tina Green and models Lottie Moss and Daisy Lowe. Two years ago, he was given the title group creative director.
The Ecclestone family has similarly close links. John Russo, chief executive of Ms Ecclestone’s family business, is a listed director of the Maddox Gallery and her sister Petra was made creative director of the Los Angeles branch when it opened two years ago.
The LA gallery is the sixth in the chain which also includes three in Mayfair, Central London, and one in the luxury Alpine ski resort of Gstaad.
Sources close to Ms Ecclestone and Mr Rutland last night said Mr Richardson was not employed by the couple, that they had not personally taken advantage of the job retention scheme, and any decision about the furlough was down to the company.
The episode comes after this newspaper revealed in April that Victoria Beckham had used taxpayers’ money to furlough 30 staff at her fashion firm, despite having an estimated £335 million family fortune. She later performed a U-turn on the funding.
Ms Ecclestone is reportedly worth £250 million, while her father, Formula 1 boss Bernie, pictured, is said to be worth ten times that amount