"What recession?" shouted the front page of the New York Post last week, beside a picture of a blonde Swedish countess, Marie Douglas-David. Douglas-David, a former banker at Lazard, is divorcing her husband of six years, George David, former CEO of United Technologies and worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
She is reportedly refusing to accept a post-nuptial agreement of $43 million; she wants their apartment at New York's most prestigious building - 740 Park Avenue - and a minimum of $53,000 a week. This has been broken down into a fascinating list of her weekly needs. Travel: $8,000. Clothes: $4,500. Health/skin care: $1,000. Flowers: $600 - and so forth. She had the audacity to state in her affidavit that these figures have been cut back because of the recession.
I read all this with particular amazement since I happen to be friends with an ex-fiancé of Ms Douglas-David's. I shot him off an email. "Bet you're glad you got out of that. " His inbox, he replied, was full of emails similar to mine.
But Douglas-David is not the only tone-deaf woman in New York these days. Despite the searing wounds inflicted by Bernie Madoff, despite the fact that several divorces are stalled because suddenly there are no assets to divide, some people still don't see what's going on.
Ousted Lehman boss Dick Fuld's wife has been spotted spending frenetically for Christmas. In an extraordinarily tacky display of ostentation Donald Trump Jr has shown the apple does not fall far from the tree by posing for a magazine with wife and baby in front of his sumptuous Christmas tree in his sumptuous apartment. I've heard one woman earnestly discuss with another how to get the couture sales going again. Small wonder John Thain, CEO of Merrill Lynch, thought it was OK to ask for a $10 million bonus - until he was told to remember that US jobless figures are the highest in 26 years.
As for Ms Douglas-David? Here's a tip for her or anyone in her plight. Read New York magazine's website as to how to list your expenses in a divorce: "Flowers = "office supplies". Health and skin care = "puppy food". Travel = "between New York and Calcutta". And so on.
Really, right now, we just do not want to know what she needs to spend on a manicure.
This article was originally published by the London Evening Standard
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