The past month has seen a shockingly sad, raw tale played out on Paulina Porizkova’s Instagram account.
“Beginning the process of letting go of things — letting go of thirty years — letting go of everything I’ve known — everything that made me feel safe,” she wrote on Sept. 1. The accompanying photograph showed her clutching clothing to her face, as if inhaling memories.
“Last two days in my house. It’s empty, cold and dirty,” the 55-year-old posted on Oct. 16, along with a photo of herself crouched in a large living room, nearly bare but for a few boxes. “I’ve never cried as much as I have in the last year.”
It was on Sept. 15, 2019, that the former supermodel came home to the $10 million Gramercy Park townhouse she shared with her husband, Cars singer Ric Ocasek, and found him dead from heart disease and pulmonary emphysema. The 75-year-old rocker had recently undergone surgery, but his passing was still a shock.
Even more shocking: The very next day, Porizkova discovered that he had rewritten his will just weeks before — and she had been cut out and would have to give up her home.
“I have made no provision for my wife … as we are in the process of divorcing. Even if I should die before our divorce is final … Paulina is not entitled to any elective share … because she has abandoned me,” Ocasek wrote in his will.
The couple had announced their split in May of 2018, with Porizkova revealing that it had occurred the year before — although they still lived together and supported each other right up until his death. “The photos of our happy family are in fact, happy family photos; we are just no longer a couple,” she wrote on Instagram, as the two continued to be seen in public with their sons Jonathan, now 26 and who Porizkova has said is a video-game designer, and 22-year-old Oliver, reportedly a college student.
But, insiders say, Ocasek was not as happy as Porizkova wanted to portray.
“Ric and Paulina really loved each other, but [when he got sick] he seemed to get tired — of everything,” said a former model and Porizkova pal who lives in LA. “She didn’t know if he’d stopped loving her or just stopped loving life. He felt emotionally dead to her.”
Inside Paulina’s Gramercy Park home as she moves out
Other insiders agree with that assessment. “Who abandoned who is up to whom you talk to,” said a model who’s been friends with Porizkova since their early New York days. “He clearly felt she was abandoning him at a trying time in his life — even though she was the one helping him most when he got sick. And she felt like he’d just stopped caring about the marriage — another form of abandonment.”
From the beginning, the romance seemed like the stuff that rock ’n’ roll dreams are made of: musician meets supermodel on the set of a video.
Actor Timothy Hutton, who directed the 1984 video for the Cars song “Drive,” told casting people at the time he’d wanted a “tall exotic woman with something fierce” about her. The Czech model, just 19 at the time, fit the bill. More than just a pretty face — she was that year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover girl — Porizkova was able to act out a memorably emotional meltdown in the clip. Hutton later told Vanity Fair, “I felt something between [Ocasek and Porizkova] instantly.”
The two wed five years later, when she was 24 and he was 45.
“Ric was always in awe of her,” said a former music executive who helped produce the “Drive” video. “He was married when he met Paulina and she was very young, but it was love at first sight. He couldn’t believe anyone that beautiful would want to be with him.”
The model’s star shone bright as her husband’s began to fade. The Cars continued to release albums throughout the 1980s, but to fewer sales, and broke up in 1989.
Porizkova, meanwhile, garnered covers of Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and more, as well as advertising campaigns for brands including Chanel, Christian Dior, Versace and Revlon. In 1988, she was awarded what was then the highest-paying modeling contract in the world: $6 million from Estee Lauder. After that ended in 1995, she landed a multimillion-dollar contract with Escada.
“Paulina was successful and she lasted. The [models] who lack good work ethics tend not to last. It’s more than looks,” said “Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women” author Michael Gross.
Porizkova has said that she put her life’s earnings “into the marriage,” but has not revealed how much of her own money is left.
“She wasn’t crazy materialistic, but Paulina got used to a pretty comfortable life,” said one modeling agent who knows her.
In more recent years, the couple’s dynamic shifted. “As Paulina got older and was working less … she seemed more dependent on [Ocasek],” said the music exec. “I think she really resented him for that in the end.”
The model who did not respond to The Post’s requests for comment, told “CBS This Morning”: “It’s really hard to be married to somebody if you’re the only one putting in all the work.”
Nonetheless, she stayed in the house, caring for Ocasek as his health failed.
“He was still the man that I loved and that I had grown up with,” she told CBS. “And I couldn’t really imagine life without him.”
Ocasek’s estate is said to be worth $5 million, according to documents filed in Manhattan Surrogate’s court. Porizkova plans to contest the will, which would grant her what’s called “an elective share” under state law unless it can actually be proven that she did, in fact, abandon him. Ocasek also did not leave money to two sons from his second marriage but did provide for two others from his first marriage as well as his sons with Porizkova, his third wife.
Nicole Noonan, a New York divorce attorney, told The Post: “In the state of New York, if they are still married [at the time of his death], she is entitled to a … share of the estate. Anyone can sue for anything. So she can put up a good argument … They got married with the promise of sticking together through sickness and health and she showed that — despite whatever frame of mind he may have been in at that time when he rewrote the will. You can’t disinherit your spouse. You can disinherit everyone — except for your spouse.
The question now, is how Porizkova will make money to support herself. In addition to forthright Instagram posts about her living situation, she has also taken to posting unfiltered photos that show her as who she truly is. And while she has admitted she’s never loved modeling, she seems to be determined to carve a new path in that world.
“Grief is certainly no beauty maker. My eyelids are starting to droop. The jowly bits next to my mouth don’t only make me look older but also somehow bitter,” she posted in January. “Now, how can I help to make all this — what we consider flaws — to be seen differently, to be seen as confidence and beauty of a mature age rather than something that needs to be eliminated?”
“She’s certainly never had to worry about working. Now she does — but she’s very smart, very capable, resourceful,” said the modeling agent. “If the court decision doesn’t go her way, I’m sure her sons will help, and she will reinvent in a new and interesting way, I have no doubt.”
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