The invitations were out, the private jet arranged, and now friends of Corina Noel and her hubby can’t reach them to confirm that the party’s still on. They’re worried, naturally, that something may have happened.
FRIENDS of Andrés Piedrahita and Corina Noel were exchanging e-mails last week, trying to ascertain whether their Christmas trip to Mustique was going ahead as planned.
It was supposed to be the usual affair; meet on Boxing Day in Barbados, then fly to the exclusive island by private jet. There they would eat their turkey in the sunshine at Yemanja, the Noel family holiday home, and enjoy views that are reputed to be the best on the island. Or so says fashion magnate Tommy Hilfiger, who lives next door.
Although the guest list had yet to be finalised, the circle usually included a handful of Europe’s financial elite, such as Alberto Cortina, the billionaire Spanish banker, and Lawrence Stroll, the former owner of Asprey.
Other acquaintances include Arki Busson, the London-based hedge-fund impresario and fiancé of actress Uma Thurman, as well as the younger generation of the BotÍn family, the banking dynasty that runs Santander – owner of Abbey and Alliance & Leicester.
In the past few days, however, Andrés and Corina have dropped off the social radar, refusing to answer calls to their Belgravia townhouse or their home in Madrid. Not all the calls were friendly.
As the European head of the investment firm Fairfield Greenwich, Piedrahita was one of the most prolific salesmen for Bernard Madoff. Fairfield, run by Corina’s father Walter Noel, has emerged as Madoff’s biggest single victim and may lose more than $7.5 billion (£5 billion). Many of its clients were lured in through a network of the family’s connections.