When one half of the famous twin TV stars, Mary-Kate Olsen, married banker Olivier Sarkozy in 2015 people couldn’t help but raise some eyebrows at their significant age difference (he was 46, she was 28), but for a while, it looked like they were making it work. At least up until 2020. In May of that year, it emerged that Mary-Kate wanted a divorce, and fast. While the notoriously private Olsen didn’t divulge any personal details about the split, people couldn’t help but notice her sister Ashley’s strange involvement.
Mary-Kate has always kept her personal life quite private, but insider sources have since talked about how she and Sarkozy met in the first place. In 2020 one of these told Entertainment Tonight that Mary-Kate was attracted to the wealthy older man because he “was more outgoing than she was.”
Apparently, the pair met at a party, and things went from there. According to Entertainment Tonight’s source, “When they did go out, she preferred to go out late at night. For example, they would have midnight dinners at Nobu. She also really liked being in the Hamptons [where Sarkozy lived] because there was more privacy for her there and she [could] ride her horses.”
The ET source continued, “They’re both very driven, intelligent and hard working, so there was definitely mutual respect there.” But there was also the matter of Sarkozy being seventeen years older than Mary-Kate. The insider said, “They both have friends that span a wide range of ages and it didn’t seem to be a big deal to them.”
However, the age difference did apparently matter to one person – Sarkozy’s ex-wife. According to the National Enquirer, Charlotte Sarkozy said that the relationship was “not right” and “grotesque” when the pair was seen together in 2012. Yet the romance between the banker and the now-fashion designer continued on nonetheless.
In fact, Sarkozy had only just divorced Charlotte when he met Mary-Kate. Yes, after having two children together, the pair split in 2011. And he’d also dated the actress Stella Schnabel after his divorce. Oh, and there was another very notable thing about him – he was the half-brother of Nicolas Sarkozy, one-time President of France.
As you might expect, the tabloids were fascinated by the romance. After all, a former child star dating the much older and incredibly wealthy half-brother of a world leader was a combination that didn’t come along every day. And the French media delved into the story, sometimes with a mocking tone. Sarkozy was nicknamed “the little French lover.”
Others seemed to think differently about the headline-grabbing romance though. Michael Pagnotta, the former publicist for the Olsen twins, told The Post in 2020, “I never found their relationship strange. The girls grew up around older, successful men from a very early age because they were so young when they started in [show] business.”
Pagnotta went on, “Both Ashley and Mary-Kate were used to dealing with older, decisive people who became very influential in their lives and careers and who they saw as peers. I can understand why Mary-Kate would be with a guy like him.” Yet Mary-Kate herself never spoke about what she saw in Sarkozy.
One reason for all the media coverage was that Mary-Kate had been a very famous child star. When she and her twin were still just babies, they shared the part of Michelle Tanner on the popular sitcom Full House. And they stayed with the show right up until it ended in 1995. This had to have greatly affected their upbringing.
Mary-Kate and Ashley were raking in piles of cash before they even turned 10. And they grew a massive pre-teen fanbase thanks to their various direct-to-VHS movies. What’s more, the twins had their own merchandise, magazine, and official fan club, all of which were wildly popular in the ’90s.
Now, you might think it was a strange way to grow up. And in 2010 Mary-Kate spoke to Marie Clare magazine about what her childhood had been like. She said that she and her twin had been like “little monkey performers” and she “wouldn’t wish [her] upbringing on anybody.” However, she added, “But I wouldn’t take it back for the world.”
Their younger sister Elizabeth, who herself went on to big things, also had mixed feelings about the way the twins grew up. In 2011 she told Nylon magazine, “They turned 18 and what was going on in her life – I’m talking about Mary-Kate – was all over the news. They would follow us shopping and [Mary-Kate and Ashley] would almost get into car accidents because of the paparazzi, and I didn’t want to be a part of it.”
However, Mary-Kate and Ashley moved away from the acting world and into the fashion one. Yes, in 2006 they started their own clothing company called The Row. The next year they opened Elizabeth and James, another fashion line. (The name came from the first names of their siblings.) So the two were already rich, but this made them even richer.
And thus Mary-Kate and Sarkozy were a couple who commanded a vast amount of wealth. You see, Sarkozy had excelled in investment banking. Starting from 2008 he worked as the managing director of Global Financial Services for billion-dollar company The Carlyle Group. And even his divorce from Charlotte didn’t seem to dent his finances too much.
Anyway, in March 2013 rumors began spreading that a Mary-Kate marriage proposal was on the horizon. Yes, and an insider told Us Weekly magazine that Sarkozy wanted to “lock [Mary-Kate] down for life” and considered her not only “smart as a whip” but “mature for her age.” But, the source said, Mary-Kate wanted to “give it more time.”
But by late February 2014 an engagement had indeed taken place. Sarkozy had proposed, and the wedding plans were in motion. And Mary-Kate’s equally famous family, which included both Ashley and Elizabeth of course, were reportedly thrilled. An insider told Us Weekly, “Mary-Kate’s family thinks Olivier is the best thing to happen to her.”
So the wedding between Mary-Kate and her older beau took place in November 2015. And reportedly the one thing that the celebrations weren’t lacking was the provision of cigarettes. According to an insider who spoke to Page Six magazine, the reception room was packed full of “bowls and bowls filled with cigarettes, and everyone smoked the whole night.”
The ceremony was very private, but Page Six magazine did gather up a few more details. It revealed, “The reception was held at a private residence on 49th Street, between Second and Third avenues; cocktails were served in a rear garden before the 50 guests dined indoors. Attendees were required to turn in their cellphones beforehand.”
After that, the former child star continued to keep the details of her marriage out of the press. Only in March 2017 did her fans get an inside look into how the relationship was going. During an interview with Net-a-Porter magazine, both Mary-Kate and Ashley discussed how they kept a healthy work-life balance.
Mary-Kate said in the interview, “I think we’re lucky [working hard] comes quite naturally for us. We don’t need so much time to sit and think and ponder. But then I have a husband, two step-kids and a life; I have to go home and cook dinner. I ride horses on the weekends. You find the thing that helps you relax and if you don’t have it, look for it. Or you get burned out and then you’re not productive.”
All in all, with the little information available at the time, the two appeared to have a good relationship. And prior to the wedding itself, the loved-up couple had been fans of public displays of affection. To add to that, there had even been rumours of them having children in future. So what, if anything, could actually go wrong?
Well suddenly, seemingly without warning, Sarkozy and Mary-Kate were divorcing. And worse, it was by all accounts a messy and painful split. There was a prenuptial agreement in place, and that was probably a good thing under the circumstances, as there were huge amounts of money in play.
Before their wedding in April 2014, Sarkozy and Mary-Kate had bought a beautiful townhouse in New York’s Turtle Bay Gardens. And it featured, among other things, an elevator, a library, a foundation, and the slightly odd luxury of an in-house hall of mirrors. Apparently the couple purchased it for $13.5 million.
And that wasn’t the only piece of property Mary-Kate and Sarkozy jointly owned. You see, they also had their home in the Hamptons, a massive five-bedroom mansion worth at least $5 million. Apparently, after filing for divorce Mary-Kate had left that home and headed off to another Hamptons estate, this one a rental.
Not only that, but Mary-Kate had allegedly been ordered out of her and Sarkozy’s New York place, being told via email that she had to be gone by May 18. Mary-Kate herself, unsurprisingly considering her past attitude towards privacy, made no comment to the media about what was happening. But touchingly, it soon emerged that her twin sister had been there for her.
Yes, according to an anonymous source who spoke to E! News, Mary-Kate had fled to be with her beloved twin Ashley, during what had fast become “heated” divorce proceedings. So she’d had a shoulder to cry on, at least. Furthermore, the source claimed it had “gotten very ugly between [Mary-Kate and Olivier]” and the former child star was simply “done with constant drama.”
Other so called insiders spoke to the media too. One alleged to Page Six, “[Olivier] seems like a fun guy when you meet him but he is a shark. Very tough. He’s not somebody you want to go up against. His divorce from [his first wife] got very messy for a while and they really went after each other. Don’t underestimate him if it gets messy with Mary-Kate.”
The media also reported on some of the lesser-known details of Sarkozy’s first divorce. After his split from Charlotte she had written a book called “Men Are Like Melons: A French Woman’s Guide to Surviving Divorce and Finding Love in the Era of the App.” In the book’s advertising campaign there had been the line: “Men are like melons. Out of ten, you’ll find one that’s good.”
Then on May 20 an insider told People magazine that children might have been one cause of the split. They said, “A few years ago, having a baby was not a priority for [Mary-Kate]. This has changed.” But Sarkozy apparently didn’t want any more children, having had two already.
A “fashion source” told People, “Olivier has two grown kids and doesn’t want more. Mary-Kate thought he would budge on that and he hasn’t.” They also said, “Mary-Kate prefers to be quiet and alone and doing the things she likes. She’s not that interested in socializing—she likes small gatherings with select people. They ended up being apart quite a bit.”
Also, rumor had it that Sarkozy had wanted Mary-Kate to be more of a stay-at-home wife, something she was unwilling to do. A source told People, “She’s super career focused and he’s very French and wanted her to be more available. You can’t control a girl who has been on the billionaire track since her 20s.”
And the magazine’s source threw out some other interesting tidbits, including, “[Mary-Kate] is the type of person who would never complain about a 12 hour work day. Olivier never understood her drive and passion.” They added, “Olivier loves traveling to tropical places with his French friends. He traveled without her several times.”
What’s more, People magazine got hold of a copy of the application Mary-Kate had filed. It read in part, “I am petrified that my husband is trying to deprive me of the home that we have lived in and if he is successful, I will not only lose my home but I risk losing my personal property as well.” Things sounded bad.
Possibly complicating matters further was that Sarkozy had apparently been friendlier with his ex-wife Charlotte than had previously been suggested. According to a source who spoke to Page Six, the divorce between the two had actually turned out okay in the end and they were on “good, very friendly terms.”
The source also said, “It was not uncommon for Charlotte to be around and stay in a separate bedroom in the Hamptons on holidays or birthdays. They have two kids and have always put them first. In their French way, family comes first, even with a divorce. Charlotte was even at Olivier’s wedding to Mary-Kate.”
Apparently, according to the Page Six source, things had intensified during the 2020 lockdown. You see, Sarkozy had “insisted to Mary-Kate” that his whole family be allowed to live in the couple’s mansion temporarily, and this naturally included Charlotte. So had this been the catalyst for the split?
The insider told the magazine, “Maybe French people culturally have a different view of marriage, and while Mary-Kate loves his children, it was too much to have his ex-wife living with them… Would you want the ex-wife living with you for an unforeseeable amount of time in the middle of a crisis?”
However, the source also insisted that there had been absolutely no infidelity in the marriage. They told Page Six, “It was simply erosion … growing apart. No cheating or betrayals … sometimes couples just run their course. The plan to move in his family was his way of moving on, and the final straw for Mary-Kate.”
But despite everything, insiders seemed optimistic. One told Page Six, “The Olsens have as much money as Sarkozy does, maybe more. Both of the girls have a lot of confidence in themselves and in business. Mary-Kate is very strong, both she and Ashley are. These girls are nothing like you expect them to be. Mary-Kate will survive.”