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Why this heiress’ “scam” wedding is making headlines around the world

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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Andi Potamkin

The story behind the glamorous, star-studded wedding that was allegedly faked for attention. 

The Amangiri resort in the heart of Utah’s red rock desert is something of a celebrity magnet.

Emily Ratajkowski went there on honeymoon, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Jason Statham have holidayed there a deux, and Sabrina Dhowre – now Mrs Idris Elba – booked the resort to host her bachelorette party under the stars.

In 2015, the resort played host to the extravagant wedding festivities of Andi Potamkin, an American heiress to the Potamkin Automotive Group, and William Jordan Blackmore, hairdresser of choice for Selena Gomez, Marc Jacobs and Elizabeth Olsen. 

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The wedding was, in a word, lavish. Some $1 million was spent on the festivities, which took place in front of guests including Olsen and fashion designer Brian Atwood. The newlyweds arrived on a private jet for their pre-wedding game night of poker and karaoke. (The bride wore a Dior minidress and packed a wardrobe full of Manolo Blahnik, Prada, Brian Atwood and Gianvito Rossi shoes.) 

Then came the big day itself, with Potamkin clad in a bespoke Maurizio Galante gown and “big” hair to be wed at sunset in the Utah desert. The wedding’s reception included horseback riding, zip-lining, hiking, a movie night, yoga, watercolour classes, a recovery lunch by the pool and a “BBQ & s’more buffet”. 

“As the couple read their own vows and exchanged rings crafted from archaic dinosaur bones found in the very same area in which they were standing (yes, really), they looked as if they were backlit from the sun,” The Coveteur wrote of the ceremony.

Sounds lovely, right? Only according to a lawsuit currently gripping New York high society, the whole thing was faked.

Blackmore and Potamkin are in the middle of a messy separation, with Blackmore alleging that Potamkin “tricked him” and the celebrant into believing the marriage was legally binding when it wasn’t. According to Page Six, Potamkin misled Blackmore, staging the wedding as a publicity stunt. “Heiress scammed celebrity hairstylist into ‘lavish wedding’ & sham marriage as PR stunt,” a People story read. 

“The truth was that Andi never wanted to marry Jordan; she just wanted a lavish wedding experience, a public-relations stunt and the attention that came with it,” Blackmore’s lawsuit claims.  

According Blackmore, “the scheme” was “hatched” by Potamkin and her father Alan in order to protect Potamkin’s fortune. (The family is allegedly worth $150 million, Page Six reports.) The idea was “to give his daughter the fantasy experience and attention she so desired, with no lasting consequences under law.”

No marriage license was obtained, and an ordained minister did not oversee the ceremony. As such, the couple do not appear to be legally married. In December, Potamkin placed her $90,000 engagement ring on the coffee table in the couple’s Brooklyn abode and told her ‘husband’ that “we have to break up.” According to Potamkin, it was a case of the pair becoming “consciously uncoupled”. 

It was only when Blackmore received legal papers describing their union as a “symbolic ceremony… that did not constitute a legally binding marriage” that he began to question the veracity of their wedding and sought legal advice of his own. Now, the hairstylist is suing the Potamkins for $2 million in damages. He has described himself as “shaken to his core by the discovery of what Andi and Alan Potamkin surreptitiously did to him,” Blackmore’s lawyer Matthew Coogan told Page Six

For Potamkin, the lawsuit is simply not true. “[It] includes tons of untrue and irrelevant information about my family, included for no purpose other than to attempt to publicly embarrass us,” she told the newspaper.

Potamkin has also filed an answer to Blackmore’s legal complaint containing an email from her former partner that “establishes that Blackmore unequivocally knew that in order for their marriage to be official, he and Andi would need ‘to go to the courthouse and file [their] marriage with the state of New York…” The answer also included another email from Blackmore that acknowledged the couple’s separation as “for the best” and recognised Potamkin’s “bravery” in ending the relationship. 

Now, in a bizarre twist of fate, it would seem that in order to get down to the business of separation, the fake wedding will have to become a real one. The couple cannot actually get ‘divorced’ until they are first married. According to Potamkin’s lawyer Jennifer Altman, both members of the relationship have filed with the Utah courts to recognise the marriage. After this, Potamkin is looking to activate the prenup that Blackmore signed before their ‘wedding’.

“While it is unfortunate that the marriage has ended, the failure of a marriage does not justify Mr Blackmore’s use of the legal process as a manifestation of his disappointment,” Altman told People

But Blackmore believes that his business has suffered immensely because of the scandal. His lawyer Coogan told Page Six they intend to declare the prenup non-binding and are seeking millions in damages. “Anti Potamkin’s current change of position is all too convenient an effort to distance herself from the fraud,” Coogan said. 

Images: Getty

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Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer, podcaster and recent Australian transplant in London. You can find her on the internet talking about pop culture, food and travel.

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