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How Christina Stuart Paine became Lady Tina Green

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Lady Tina Green / Photo All rights reserved

The Monaco resident is one of the richest and most influential women in the UK.

She is an iconic figure in the Principality. Lady Tina Green is undoubtedly one of the world’s best-known businesswomen and billionaires. Co-founder of the interior design firm Green and Mingarelli Design, she has owned more than 2,300 stores around the world. How did she build such an empire? Monaco Tribune invites you to take a step back in time.

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Born in London in 1949, Christina Stuart Paine travelled extensively as a child, dividing her time between Hong Kong, Japan and Thailand. The daughter of a wine merchant, young Christina enjoyed working. She especially loved creating, making things, using her manual skills. These qualities were to come in very handy later on.

First steps in the fashion industry

On the romantic side, Christina met Robert Palos, aka “Bobby” when she was just 17. A 31-year-old South African jazz drummer. Despite their age difference, the two married the following year and Christina continued to travel, to Australia and Japan in particular. Career-wise, the young woman started out in the diamond industry, before following her husband to his native country, where they opened a fashion store in Johannesburg. The couple had two children: Stasha, who became an artist and author, and Brett, who founded Brett Palos Investments.

Business was booming for Christina and Robert and they opened a second fashion boutique in London. But while Christina was 100% committed to their business, ‘Bobby’ found it more difficult. They divorced after 20 years together. Christina and Robert remained good friends, however, and the young woman was close to him right up to his death in 2011.

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Meanwhile, in 1985, Christina met Philip Green, a businessman she described at the time as “Just an ordinary person with a seriously strong work ethic.” The couple married in 1990 and Christina designed the interiors for the shops her husband owned, which launched her career in interior design. The couple had two children: Chloe and Brandon, who recently caused a stir in the celebrity news by being seen with actress Emma Watson.

Strong involvement in the Principality

The family moved to Monaco in 1998. The Greens fit perfectly into their Monegasque surroundings, and Christina, who was very discreet media-wise, became involved in many activities. In 2017, she was appointed treasurer of the Fondation Princess Charlène, which works to prevent drowning. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Association des Amis du Musée Océanographique de Monaco (Friends of the Oceanographic Museum), which supports the Museum’s activities, promotes its ocean protection policy and seeks to raise awareness and educate the general public.

Drawing on her experience with Philip’s stores, Tina Green was hired in 2005 to design the interior of a yacht. She met the architect and builder Pietro Mingarelli: they formed a partnership, with the name Green and Mingarelli Design. Yachts, flats, houses, private planes… the firm was in great demand and the pair would work up to 15 hours a day! As the Club des Résidents Etrangers de Monaco (CREM) points out, Tina Green has also decorated some of the Principality’s most prestigious venues, including the CREM clubhouse itself, La Vigie and the SASS Café. Together, Tina and Pietro founded the G&M Design Gallery, a prime exhibition venue in Larvotto.

At the same time, the Green couple acquired the Lionheart, a 90-metre superyacht estimated to be worth £100 million (which was quarantined in Port Hercule in 2020 after two crew members tested positive for coronavirus).

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In 2002, Philip Green bought the Arcadia Group, owner of a number of ready-to-wear shops including Topshop, Topman, Wallis, Evans, Burton, Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins and Outfit. Philip Green became CEO of the group, while Tina took over the running of Taveta Ltd, the majority shareholder in Taveta Investments Ltd, Arcadia’s parent company. 

A series of scandals

In the early years, Arcadia’s results were excellent. In 2005, Tina Green even received £1.2 billion in dividends, a historic record in the United Kingdom. However, thanks to the tax advantages through her  Monegasque residency status, Tina Green did not pay any tax on this sum in the UK. This caused a scandal on the other side of the Channel. The activist group UK Uncut staged several demonstrations outside Arcadia stores. According to the Daily Mail, Philip Green defended his wife, saying: “My wife’s not a tax exile – my family do not live in the United Kingdom, it’s somewhat different. We do pay all our tax in Britain, I think we have paid over the last five years some £300-400 million in taxes on profits that have been made on our company.”

According to The Guardian, this controversy did not prevent Philip Green from being knighted in 2006 for services to the retail industry, with the approval of Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, only to then publicly support the Conservative leader David Cameron in the 2010 elections. Philip Green became Sir Philip Green and Tina Green became Lady Tina Green. The following year, the Green couple’s fortune reached £5 billion, according to a list compiled at the time by the Sunday Times.

Sir Philip and Lady Tina Green were also spending more and more, however: in 2012, Sir Philip Green celebrated his 60th birthday in Mexico. Stevie Wonder, Robbie Williams and the Beach Boys provided the live music. Three years later, the couple sold British Home Stores (BHS), a subsidiary that joined the Arcadia Group in 2009, for £1. Problem: The buyer, Dominic Chappell, had already gone bankrupt several times and was a former race pilot who, again according to The Guardian, knew nothing about the retail sector.

Demise of the Arcadia group

BHS folded in 2016 and 11,000 employees lost their jobs. The Green couple was singled out for criticism after receiving dividends despite the bankruptcy. According to Insider, some 100 British MPs even symbolically voted to strip Sir Philip Green of his title, with a report describing him as ‘the unacceptable face of capitalism’. To ease tensions, Sir Philip Green paid £363 million to save the BHS pension fund.

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But the truce was short-lived: according to The Guardian, Sir Philip Green was charged in 2018 with making racist remarks to black employees, groping several women in his company, and physically assaulting some of his members of staff. Lady Tina Green’s husband immediately and publicly denied these allegations, while several years earlier a number of campaign groups had criticised the working conditions of Arcadia’s employees which, according to the activists, amounted to exploitation.

The US justice system had Sir Philip Green in its sights in 2019, according to Reuters charging him with “frequently touching in an inappropriate manner” a Pilates teacher in Arizona. The Arcadia Group reported that Sir Philip Green “strenuously denies the allegations” and that “contrary to previous suggestions in the media, there is no allegation of any sexual assault or misconduct made by the prosecution.”

Over the years, the couple’s wealth has dwindled, even though according to our colleagues at Monaco Life, Sir Philip and Lady Tina Green are still among the richest families in the United Kingdom. In 2019, however, their assets fell below £1 billion and the Arcadia group, which was severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, was wound up in 2021. 

Despite all these challenges, Lady Tina Green continues to be actively involved in her professional activities. While, according to The Sun, Sir Philip Green now divides his time between Monaco and the United Kingdom, his wife, is firmly based in the Principality. 

According to The Times, the couple’s net worth was estimated at £910 million in 2022.