It seemed like the perfect union – a marriage that brought together two of the country’s wealthiest families.
He was the multi-millionaire son of the late financier and tycoon Jimmy Goldsmith, she a scion of the Rothschild banking dynasty.
But now Ben Goldsmith and his music producer wife Kate, who have three children, are to divorce after she embarked on a passionate love affair with an American rap singer named Jay Electronica.
Ben and Kate Goldsmith pictured in December 2010. The couple are set to divorce after she embarked on a passionate love affair with an American rap star
Last night Mr Goldsmith confirmed the split, saying: ‘I’m pretty shell-shocked by everything. All I am thinking about now is my children.’
The marriage ended with a dramatic showdown at the family home in Notting Hill, West London, on Wednesday morning.
Mr Goldsmith, 31, confronted his 30-year-old wife over explicit text messages and emails he found on her smartphone that she had received from and sent to the New Orleans-born hip-hop artist, who now lives in London and is one of her clients.
After initially denying the romance, Mrs Goldsmith confessed to the affair when her husband told her he had read the text messages.
During a heated altercation, Mr Goldsmith slapped his wife and kicked a child’s toy at her.
He then took the children to school. By the time he returned, she had called police and they were at the house to arrest him.
Last night a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police confirmed that officers were called to attend a domestic disturbance in the couple’s street at 8am and arrested a man on suspicion of common assault.
The couple's marriage is on the rocks after Mr Goldsmith confronted his wife over explicit messages she had sent to rapper Jay Electronica (pictured)
Mr Goldsmith was released after being given a caution.
Sources say the marriage has become increasingly volatile and turbulent during the past two years, but added that Mr Goldsmith had never hit his wife before.
One friend of old Etonian Mr Goldsmith said yesterday that he was ‘devastated and miserable’ over the collapse of his marriage to Kate, whom he has known since he was 18.
He has moved out of the marital home to stay with friends and has a suitcase of clothes in his offices in the West End.
‘Ben is heartbroken, devastated and thoroughly miserable,’ a friend of the couple said. ‘He suspected Kate was cheating on him because she has been behaving increasingly erratically for some time.
‘She is obsessed with this chap called Jay Electronica who is one of her clients. She is always on the phone to him and out with him until four or five in the morning most nights. Sometimes she even stays with him.
‘Ben was paranoid about their friendship months ago, but when he confronted her about an affair earlier this year she denied it.
‘Then last week he found a series of texts and email messages. They were very intense messages planning sexual liaisons.’
Ben, who has been drowning his troubles at his local pub The Scarsdale in West Kensington, where he has been overheard discussing the affair, has told friends that the marriage is over and that he intends to file for divorce on the grounds of adultery.
Kate inherited an £18 million fortune after her father, banker Amschel Rothschild, hanged himself at the Bristol Hotel in Paris in 1996. It is understood that her affair with Jay Electronica, a father of one whose real name is Timothy Elpadaro Thedford, has been going on for close to a year.
She has been in constant touch with him on Twitter and last month the rapper posted a picture of Kate aboard a helicopter on his site. He also recently tweeted: ‘The handling of the heart is a very delicate art cause its paper thiiiiin.’ [sic]
Electronica, 36, who is signed to Kate’s record label Round Table, was born and raised in the violent crime-ridden Magnolia Projects in New Orleans, Louisiana. He has been rapping since 2004 and is known for controversial and explicitly sexual lyrics.
He has a three-year-old daughter with Grammy award-winning singer Erykah Badu. He keeps a relatively low profile in London but works with some of the industry’s biggest talents, including Jay Z and Sean ‘P-Diddy’ Combs. He is also friendly with heiress and socialite Nicky Hilton and regularly tweets Kate’s brother James, who is believed to know about the affair.
Starting out: Ben and Kate at their 2003 wedding in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
The rapper is currently in LA following the death of his grandmother Dorothy Flowers, but he is expected to be reunited with Kate shortly.
Sources close to the Goldsmiths say that although the marriage has been on the rocks for some time – the couple had a trial separation earlier this year – they are deeply shocked that Kate has left Ben for a bad-boy rapper.
Mr Goldsmith tried to save the marriage but has now told friends ‘there is no going back’.
A family friend told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Ben has said that Kate has confessed everything to him. He has said this is definitely it and the marriage is over. He will be filing for divorce on the grounds of adultery. He has moved out and is staying with friends.’
The split has been another blow to the wider Goldsmith family, who are still reeling from the divorce of Ben’s older brother, Tory politician Zac. His ten-year marriage to Sheherazade Ventura-Bentley collapsed in 2009 after he embarked on an affair with Kate’s younger sister Alice Rothschild.
In a bizarre twist to the family saga, Zac and Alice now live together in a house on the Goldsmiths’ family estate in Richmond, South-West London, and plan to marry as soon as Zac’s divorce is finalised.
Lady Annabel Goldsmith, Ben’s mother, is said to be devastated about his marital breakdown and spent last week looking after her grandchildren.
Meanwhile, Kate’s family are reported to be ‘worried sick’ about her new relationship. ‘Her mother and all her family are very concerned that Kate is going off the rails,’ says a friend.
‘Kate and Alice are talking but most of the family are not on speaking terms with her at the moment. The whole situation is very sad.
‘Ben and Kate have a wonderful family, a lovely house and everything they could have wanted. The problem is, Kate is hanging out with Jay all the time and she has become a different person. There have been some very explosive rows.
‘She’s out nearly every night until the early hours and has become obsessed with this rapper.
‘Her explanation to her husband has always been that it’s work and that’s why she and this guy have been spending so much time together.’
The source added that Ben had been worried about Electronica since January, but Kate assured him the relationship was a working one and nothing more.
‘They had a trial separation earlier this year. They both went off and did their own things. I think Ben saw a couple of girls, but there was nothing serious. Kate convinced Ben to give it another go, which he did.
‘He was furious when he found out that Kate had been cheating on him with Electronica. He is totally heartbroken.’
The marriage took a knock two years ago when Kate became close to a friend of Ben’s, but the couple agreed to try to make things work.
Last summer they were reported to have suffered another rocky patch over Kate’s busy work schedule. Mr Goldsmith put the family home on the market in April.
The couple claimed they needed to downsize, but the truth was that the problems in their relationship were becoming more evident.
Now the couple will have to thrash out a complicated and legally fraught divorce settlement. Zac’s divorce to Sheherazade is still not settled because of the financial structure of the Goldsmith dynasty.
Sir Jimmy left his family a £1.2 billion fortune, but much of the capital is tied up in trusts run by trust managers. The brothers’ fortunes, and that of their sister Jemima, is mostly from inheritance income, not capital.
Meanwhile Kate, who went to Bryanstone School in Dorset, is determined to continue working with Electronica and her record label and management company.
Ben and Kate started dating in 2000 when they were regulars in the social pages of Tatler magazine, where Ben was frequently voted most eligible bachelor – topping even Prince William at the time.
In 2003 the couple celebrated their engagement at Annabel’s in Mayfair, the club named after Ben’s mother, and were married that September. Ben was 23 and Kate 21.
They followed a family tradition of marrying young. Ben’s father eloped with his first wife, Bolivian tin heiress Isabel Patino, when he was 21, and Ben’s older sister Jemima surprised society when she married Pakistan cricketer Imran Khan at the same age.
Kate’s father was 25 when he married her mother, heiress Anita Guinness, who was 23.
The Rothschild and Goldsmith families, blood relations who can trace their heritage to the Jewish ghettos of 18th Century Frankfurt, are powerful and influential in the worlds of finance and politics.
Sir Jimmy amassed his £1.2 billion fortune through pharmaceutical and banking interests.
Through his marriage to Lady Annabel, a close friend of the Prince of Wales, he was also a high-profile society figure.