UPDATED: Peter Cook Details Affair With Diana Bianchi
Christie Brinkley’s estranged husband said Wednesday he had sex with his teenage lover in his office, then paid her $300,000 while hoping to keep their affair quiet. He also showered her with spending money, including $500 hidden under a rock.
Peter Cook, called to the stand by his wife’s divorce lawyers, was questioned about his affair with Diana Bianchi, who is expected to testify that Cook seduced her shortly after hiring her for his Hamptons architectural firm.
Earlier, the fashion model’s lawyer said Cook spent about $3,000 a month on pornographic Web sites.
“That is the man who’s come before this court and asked for custody of his 13-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter,” attorney Robert Stephan Cohen said. The couple’s daughter, Sailor, had her birthday on Wednesday.
“It was wrong and he said it was wrong,” Cook’s lawyer, Norman Sheresky, said of the porn.
But the main focus of the trial is Cook’s affair with the 18-year-old, which set off a frenzy in the tabloids. Cohen said Brinkley found out about it from the teenager’s stepfather; the fashion model got the bad news moments before she was to speak at the Southampton High School graduation.
“There is no way to make that right,” Sheresky said. “Peter has apologized. He’s cried his eyes out. He’s lost his marriage.”
Cook’s lawyer said Brinkley is partly to blame for the public spectacle.
“For goodness sake: She’s on her fourth husband,” Sheresky told the court. “Your honor, we’re here because of the self-indulgent wrath of a woman scorned.”
Cook said he met Bianchi in early 2005 when she was working at a Hamptons toy store. Their affair began that March, around the time he hired Bianchi. She was paid $20,000 to type magazine articles onto the company’s Web site. He also left her cash payments in various spots: $500 under the rock outside his office; more behind a painting.
Before their relationship ended in late 2005, they had sex in the office a number of times, and at homes in the Hamptons owned by Brinkley.
Bianchi got the $300,000 in May 2007. The exact purpose of the money was not specified, but Cook said he was trying to protect himself and his family from scandal.
Sheresky said the case is no different than that of politicians who were unfaithful to their wives: former President Clinton, and former governors Eliot Spitzer of New York and James McGreevey of New Jersey.
Cohen said Brinkley paid for everything throughout the marriage as Cook “quickly transformed himself as a person to the manor born.” But custody, rather than money, is the couple’s main dispute. Brinkley’s ownership of her $30 million Bridgehampton home is not being contested.
Cohen said Brinkley is a doting mother whose work schedule revolves around her children. Her ex-husband, “Piano Man” Billy Joel, is also involved in their lives.
“Uncle Billy is around to support these kids,” said Cohen.
Alexa Ray Joel, 22, the daughter of Brinkley and Joel, will be called to testify about Cook’s “constant criticism of Alexa,” said Cohen.
Sheresky said there’s ample evidence that Cook’s a good parent, including interviews in which Brinkley referred to him as “the best dad in the world.”
The lawyer quoted Brinkley as saying: “Peter is our rock. He’s the calm in the middle of the storm.”
Sheresky also blasted Brinkley for wanting to keep the trial open to the public.
“That’s putting her agenda in front of the best interests of the children,” said Sheresky. “What kind of a mother wants her husband flogged in public?”