How Leni Klum and billionaire businessman Flavio Briatore rebuilt their fractious father-daughter relationship after years of ‘never seeing each other’ and her being adopted by Heidi Klum’s ex Seal
Leni Klum has been enjoying a very luxurious holiday on her billionaire businessman father Flavio Briatore’s yacht in recent days, travelling around France and Italy.
Leni, 19, who is the daughter of Flavio, 73, and model Heidi Klum, has been joined by her boyfriend Aris Rachevsky as they have been spending quality time with her father.
The father and daughter have been photographed looking close as they chatted and laughed together, but their relationship has not always been so solid.
Flavio and Heidi went their separate ways during her pregnancy, and the supermodel began dating singer Seal soon afterwards, before welcoming her first child.
Heidi went on to tie the knot with her now-ex-husband Seal in 2005, and soon after, he adopted Leni. Heidi and Seal eventually split up in 2012.
Flavio has since spoken about how Seal ‘raised’ Leni and confessed he didn’t have a relationship with his daughter, but they now appear to have rebuilt their bond.
As Leni and Flavio enjoy quality time together on holiday, MailOnline looks at how the father and daughter have grown closer after years of estrangement.
Trip: Leni Klum has been enjoying a very luxurious holiday on her billionaire businessman father Flavio Briatore’s yacht in recent days, travelling around France and Italy
Absent: But they have not always been on such good terms as Flavio has told how their distance was ‘unbridgeable’ when he stayed in London (Heidi and Leni are pictured in 2006)
HEIDI AND FLAVIO’S SPLIT
Heidi and Italian Formula One manager Flavio first went public with their relationship in March 2003.
The German-American model announced her pregnancy just months later in December 2003, but while she was expecting, the couple went their separate ways.
While she was still pregnant, Heidi started dating musician Seal and she then welcomed her daughter Leni in May 2004 in New York.
Flavio later told how he was living in London during the early years of Leni’s life whereas Heidi was in Los Angeles, describing the distance as ‘unbridgeable’.
Relationship: Heidi and Flavio (pictured in October 2003) started dating March 2003, but they split not long after Heidi announced her pregnancy in December of that same year
SEAL ADOPTS LENI
Heidi and Seal tied the knot in 2005, and just four years later, Seal adopted his wife and Flavio’s daughter Leni.
Leni was officially adopted by Seal when she was five years old, and she changed her name to Helene Samuel – the singer’s surname.
Leni now goes by her mother’s surname and is known as Leni Olumi Klum in her professional modelling life and on her Instagram page.
Flavio told how they all ‘calmly’ agreed that it made sense for Seal to adopt Leni so she could ‘grow up in a family’.
‘The three of us calmly agreed that it made the most sense that he adopt her, because a child needs to grow up in a family,’ Flavio told Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera in 2016.
Heidi and Seal went their separate ways in 2012 and their divorce was finalised two years later.
The couple share three children – Lou, 12, Henry, 16, and Johan, 14 – and Seal has maintained a very close relationship with Leni since their split.
Heidi went on to tie the knot with Tom Kaulitz in 2019. The guitarist was married once before to model Ria Sommerfeld from 2015 until 2018.
Adoption: Heidi and Seal tied the knot in 2005, and just four years later, Seal adopted his wife and Flavio’s daughter Leni (Heidi and Leni are pictured in August 2006)
Exes: Heidi and Seal (pictured in January 2010) went their separate ways in 2012 and their divorce was finalised two years later
FLAVIO SAYS NEVER SEES LENI
Twelve years after Heidi gave birth to Leni, Flavio told how he ‘never’ sees his daughter and said that makes it ‘hard’ to miss her.
Former Renault F1 team manager Flavio, who has a son Nathan with his ex-wife Elisabetta Gregoraci, added: ‘Heidi, Seal and I have built an amazing relationship.
‘It’s hard to miss a baby that you never see. But I know that Leni is not an abandoned child. Leni is part of Seal’s family and Nathan is part of mine.’
He went on to explain that he used to speak to his daughter for two hours on the phone each day, but that it ‘wasn’t enough’.
‘Leni was born when Heidi and I had already spilt. Heidi was living in Los Angeles and I was in London, the distance between us was unbridgeable,’ he said.
‘We used to speak on the phone two hours a day, but it wasn’t enough. She needed to stay with her mum.’
While Flavio lived in London, Leni grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from Pacifica Christian High School in 2022.
Distant: Twelve years after Heidi gave birth to Leni, Flavio (pictured with Heidi in September 2003) told how he ‘never’ sees his daughter and said that makes it ‘hard’ to miss her
LENI AND SEAL’S CLOSE RELATIONSHIP
Since Heidi and Seal split in 2012, Seal has maintained a very close relationship with his adoptive daughter Leni.
Seal and Leni have attended a number of events together over the years, including the 2022 US Open in New York City.
The pair walked their first-ever red carpet together in 2021, which Seal told ET was ‘one of the proudest moments of my life’.
He also spoke on their special ‘bond’ and how it formed while Heidi was still pregnant with Leni.
‘It’s everything and it has always been like that, from the day I met her mother,’ he explained. ‘[Heidi] was two weeks pregnant with this beautiful lady.
‘We have always had that bond,’ the Kiss From A Rose singer said.
Speaking of her relationship with Seal, Leni told how the singer and her mother Heidi both taught her to be herself.
‘They have both taught me to be myself, and to do what makes me feel comfortable,’ Leni told People last year.
‘You can tell if you’re not comfortable and then the best of you isn’t brought out. I just think you should be open and honest with what makes you comfortable, be yourself, do what you love.’
Very close: Seal and Leni have attended a number of events together over the years, including the 2022 US Open in New York City
Split: Heidi and Seal went their separate ways in 2012 and their divorce was finalised two years later, but the singer has remained close with Leni (Seal and Leni are pictured in January 2023)
LENI REUNITES WITH FATHER FLAVIO
Leni reunited with her biological father in August 2018, with reports at the time claiming they had met up in Italy in late July of that year.
TMZ published photographs of the father and daughter spending time together at the Cala di Volpe hotel in Porto Cervo after years apart.
Heidi and her three other children were reportedly also present, and Leni and Flavio were seen embracing as they appeared to be rebuilding their relationship.
Little is known about their relationship in recent years as they keep things relatively private, but they have been seen together on a number of occasions more recently.
Fame: In 2020, Heidi opened up about Leni’s upbringing (both pictured in 2015) and how she hadn’t a ‘normal’ upbringing due to her global fame as a model
HEIDI SPEAKS ABOUT LENI’S UPBRINGING
In 2020, Heidi opened up about Leni’s upbringing and the three different men who have been father figures in her life – Flavio, Seal and Heidi’s now-husband Tom.
In a gushing tribute to her daughter on Instagram, Heidi also told how Leni hadn’t had the chance for a ‘normal’ upbringing due to her global fame as a model.
‘I know that being my daughter is not always easy. You never had the opportunity to grow up ‘normally’. But what is normal?,’ a message translated from German to English read.
‘Growing up with three different daddies probably won’t either, but you have the talent to get the best out of everything.
‘And I would say: none of it harmed you – on the contrary: you are a self-confident young woman who fights for her goals.
‘And even more important: you are a really great person with your heart in the right place.’
Despite her mother’s fame, Heidi kept her daughter Leni mainly out of the public eye throughout her childhood, though she wanted to be a model from the age of 12.
But Heidi turned down many offers on Leni’s behalf, including one from Brandy Melville when Leni was around 12 or 13 years old.
‘The first offer came when I was only 12 or 13, from a brand I liked to wear: Brandy Melville. At that time I begged my mother, but no chance. Now I understand that it would have been too early,’ Leni told Vogue Germany.
In 2020, Heidi told how she decided that then-16-year-old Leni was ‘old enough’ to pursue modelling after spending her childhood out of the public eye.
LENI GOES ON HOLIDAY WITH FLAVIO
Family time: In recent weeks, Leni has been enjoying a holiday with her boyfriend Aris Rachevsky on her billionaire father Flavio’s luxury yacht
Reunited: The pair have been photographed looking close as they chatted and spent quality time together on a beach trip in Italy earlier this week
In recent weeks, Leni has been enjoying a sun-soaked holiday with her boyfriend Aris Rachevsky on her billionaire father Flavio’s luxury yacht.
She has been seen spending quality time with her father as they have travelled around Italy and France on the lavish vessel.
The pair have been photographed looking close as they chatted and spent quality time together on a beach trip in Italy earlier this week.
The father and daughter appear to have rebuilt their relationship after years of absence and estrangement, and now sweetly appear to have a close bond.
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