Inside The Life Of Jocelyn Wildenstein, The Billionaire Socialite Known As ‘Catwoman’


Over the last couple of decades, plastic surgery has become increasingly more popular. There are even some people who get addicted to having procedures done. Whether you are for or against cosmetic surgery, everyone should be free to choose what they want to do with their appearance. One woman, Jocelyn Wildenstein, rose to fame when she married billionaire Alec Wildenstein in the 1990s but has since grown infamous with her many changes to her face to make her appear more catlike.

Sometimes called the Catwoman, Jocelyn was born Jocelynnys Dayannys da Silva Bezerra Périsset in Lausanne, Switzerland, on September 7, 1945. She grew up there with her parents. Her father worked at a sporting goods store, and Jocelyn said life in Lausanne was not very glamorous. When she was 17 and began dating filmmaker Cyril Piguet, her life seemed to change. She later moved to Paris, France, and moved in with Italian French filmmaker Sergio Gobbi.

It is said that during this time, Jocelyn became a pilot and avid hunter. This passion led her to Africa, where she was introduced to Alec by Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi at the Wildenstein family ranch, called “Ol Jogi.” The pair hit it off, and they were in their 30s when they decided to get married. They ended up having two children, a daughter named Diane and a son called Alec Jr. Unfortunately, Jocelyn and Alec divorced in the late 90s.

Their divorce was messy, and Jocelyn ended up getting a very large settlement. Read on to learn more about her life and relationships.

When Jocelyn first left Switzerland, she felt that her life had finally begun. “My life changed then,” she said. “Lausanne is very plain, but I began meeting exciting, glamorous people.” Meeting people became a common occurrence for Jocelyn, who seemed to have found a living by dating wealthy men.

However, she has said that her true calling is decorating. Jocelyn explained, “I never worry for my career. I am very good at decoration. I am maybe extremely good at decoration.” It is unclear exactly what kind of decorating she enjoys, but the socialite seems to have an artistic side.

Jocelyn’s other passion is hunting and going on safaris. “Africa is a paradise. You meet people who look at life differently. They love the adventure,” she said. It is said that she and Alec both loved big cats, and Jocelyn once had a lynx as a pet. She once pointed out to Vanity Fair that lynx have very beautiful eyes and that her own eyes looked the same, but she said it was natural.

It is also said that Jocelyn began getting plastic surgery a year into her marriage with Alec. Apparently, he wanted her to look more catlike, and this is what led her to get surgery in the beginning.

Plastic surgery wasn’t the couple’s only concern. Alec confirmed in a 1998 interview that his father did not want him to marry Jocelyn in the first place. “He was against marriage in general,” Alec told Vanity Fair. “My father checks things out. My father tried to warn me.”

Over time, the constant plastic surgery procedures started to become an issue for the couple. “She was crazy. I would always find out last. She was thinking that she could fix her face like a piece of furniture. Skin does not work that way. But she wouldn’t listen,” Alec said in 1998.

Alec wasn’t the only one who noticed that Jocelyn seemed to have a problem and could not stop getting work done. “I don’t think I’ve known her when she wasn’t healing from something,” said a friend, who added that Jocelyne had “mutilated herself.”

For her part, Jocelyn denies that she has had multiple procedures. She claims that her face has always looked this way. “If I show you pictures of my grandmother,” she said, “what you see is these eyes—cat eyes—and high cheekbones.”

It seems there was also pressure at home to look perfect. Alec and Jocelyn went to get eye lifts together at one point. Jocelyn said Alec “hates to be with old people.” But admitted, “He never pushed me. . . . No, he all the time told me that I look very young.” She added, “Until the day you don’t look young enough!”

The couple divorced in 1999 after a dramatic scene where Jocelyn found her husband in bed with another woman, and Alec, claiming he thought he heard a burglar, pulled a gun on Jocelyn and her bodyguards. The police were called, and Alec ended up spending a night in jail. In the divorce settlement, Jocelyn was awarded $2.5 billion and then $100 million every year for 13 years.

In more recent years, Jocelyn has been out of the limelight for a while. She was occasionally seen attending fashion shows with designer Lloyd Klein, who she began dating in 2003. The pair split in 2016 after a violent dispute, but in 2018 they seemed to be back together when Jocelyn was seen wearing an engagement ring.

Also in 2018, Klein defended Jocelyn in the press over the plastic surgery rumors. “I don’t understand the whole press and the Catwoman thing because Jocelyn always looked like that,” Klein said. “She never really did anything to change her face. I have pictures from 16 years old where she looks exactly the same as today.”

That same year, Jocelyn was interviewed by Paper magazine, and Klein was present for the interview as well. At the end of the discussion, the fashion designer implied that Alec created the rumors about Jocelyn’s plastic surgery habits. “Basically, he created that whole story that Jocelyn changed so many times and got surgery a lot. As a fault for the divorce,” Klein shared.

Jocelyn outright denied the rumors about having plastic surgery on her face back in 2018 but said that she thinks that she was prettier when she was younger. “No, especially when we look back at my pictures – I think of course I am maybe more beautiful (back then),” she said. “When we are young there’s a certain freshness we lose with the years. But you still find the same eyes, same high cheeks, or same nose. I think I was more pretty.”

Alec passed away in 2008, but Jocelyn says his words about her plastic surgery have stuck around. “If you look at one of my mother she has also the eye shape like this. This was a story, and it’s something he chose very well because it stuck to me like glue. But the friends I had in Africa, or some friends I’ve had since we were 17, 20, 23 years old, they know me,” she said.

Jocelyn added that she is sometimes surprised by her own appearance when she sees candid photos of herself. She said, “It makes me sad to see myself on the screen. We have pictures of ourselves in our head that are different than what we project… It’s like ‘Oh, that’s me?'”

Much of Jocelyn’s personal identity is wrapped up in her love for Africa and nature. She shared what she had been working on, saying:

“Yes, I love Africa. I am very passionate about wild animals and I have a good approach with them. And we were trying to build a game reserve in the hills of very arid country. So we started from scratch to build the lake and also to put the irrigation with the water, you have to return the water to the river, you don’t let it go wherever it could spread. You have to canalize this water to go back to its source whatever it is, so you learn a lot when building it.”

Jocelyn was the one overseeing this construction, and the project took decades to finish. “Twenty years. It was really perfect, very magical the way it ended up. Similar to the way you build your life with a partner, but it doesn’t end so brutally,” she said.

Before the interview with Paper in 2018, it had been 20 years since Jocelyn had spoken to the press. When asked why that is, she responded:

“When the children were growing up, I didn’t want to speak about the family. I didn’t want it to fall back on them. But now they are adults, so I am free and can speak freely. But before so many events happened, their godfather died, then their father died, then the divorce. So it was a lot for some 16 and 17-year-old kids. Now they’re grown up.”

The interviewer then asked what it was like before when Jocelyn was in the tabloids regularly. “In the beginning, it’s why I stopped correcting my appearance because the articles were mean and would repeat the image that my ex-husband tried to paint of me. We were together for 20 years, so it’s a long time,” she said.

The socialite added, “We were doing a lot of things and working in the arts together, which is a lovely job to do. We were also building a lot in Africa, so we had a great time together. And I don’t know, you think you know a person, and then suddenly something happens and it’s not the same person at all anymore, and you have a hard time believing they could change so much. You see such a different side.”

Jocelyn then shared how she came to terms with the hardships of living in the spotlight. She explained, “It didn’t happen over the years; it happened very very suddenly. I think it happened when my father was dying and I left to take care of him. He was buried in Africa. I went over there and, well, what can happen? Things happen in life.”

As for her day-to-day life, Jocelyn still dreams of adventure abroad. She shared:

“It depends, we’re traveling a lot. I did a lot of camping in Africa, because what does it mean to go to Africa if you don’t camp along the river and see the animals come to drink at the water? At night we would make fires on each side of the river that would reflect on the dark water. The nights were amazing. I think I was the first woman to win the derby riding camels in Africa.”

At this stage in her life, Jocelyn prefers a slower pace and spending time in nature. She said:

“I am not going out socially so much now. I like big spaces and wild adventures, and to have new sensations. I love nature, for me, this is my greatest passion. The problem in the city is that we’re constantly changing from one subject to another, and it cuts the connection. It’s all separate in your brain, and it’s not the same. It’s why I like to stay for a long time in nature to create.”

The assumptions made about her life don’t seem to bother Jocelyn. She knows who she is and what matters to her. The socialite said:

“You know, in Africa, misconceptions never happened. They look at what you do. I worked with them, I stayed with them from when the sun rose to when it fell, and I built for them nice houses because you can’t ask people to come to your nice house and they have nothing. But there is misunderstanding when you don’t have a close relationship with people and they judge you from far away…I have nothing to prove. In the end, I don’t care.”

It was reported in March 2021 that Jocelyn and Klein are working on a docuseries about the star’s life and everything she has been through. Her publicist Brandon Cohen said in a statement: “She now really wants to talk about her life, what drove her, how she built a business with her fiancé in the craziness of their life together in New York.”

It seems like the docuseries is mostly centered around Jocelyn’s relationship with Klein and their engagement. Cohen said the series will cover “her life and her life now with this fabulous designer.”

Page Six also reports that Jocelyn and Klein were seen together at a boutique opening in Miami, Florida, in December 2020, looking very happy and in love. “It says so much about relationships today and how one small moment can change a relationship that can’t be fixed,” Jocelyn said via her publicist. “Love is deep, love is scary, and love is fragile. Choosing to be the person I want to be defines everything I do.”

Hopefully, this endeavor can bring good fortune to Jocelyn, who filed for bankruptcy in 2018. It was claimed that the socialite, who was previously awarded billions of dollars, is in debt to lawyers, American Express, and other creditors.

In her filing, Jocelyn also said she only received $900 a month from Social Security and relies on family and friends for the remainder of her expenses. Page Six said that even though she said she is broke, Jocelyn is sitting on a stash of uncashed checks and unclaimed funds accounts.

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