‘I was very lucky with my first wife and a bit unlucky with my second’

Michael Smurfit: His wives

Norma Smurfit: a “tower of strength” who gave Michael  the self-assurance to become his own man

Norma Smurfit: a “tower of strength” who gave Michael the self-assurance to become his own man

 

Michael Smurfit was married twice, first to Norma Triesman in 1963 in London, and then to Birgitta Beimark in 1988. Smurfit writes lovingly of Norma in A Life Worth Living , where he describes her as “a wonderful woman, a wonderful mother, a wonderful everything”.

He credits Norma as being a “tower of strength” who gave him the self-assurance to become his own man. They had four children, Tony, Michael, Sharon and Tracy.

Was Norma the great love in his life? “Yes, I am extremely, extremely fond of her,” Smurfit says. “I was very lucky with my first wife [Norma] and probably a bit unlucky with my second [Birgitta].”

“Norma was very feet on the ground. She was working-class people in London. She has very, very sound values and still has. She wasn’t interested at all in material things to any great extent.”

Smurfit says in his book he met Birgitta in St Tropez after a mutual friend introduced them.

“I hadn’t been thinking of leaving Norma, but I fell for Birgitta. She was tall, blonde and Swedish,” he writes.

When he told Norma he wanted a divorce, in a restaurant in 1985, “she threw a glass of wine over me and left”.

Smurfit lived with Birgitta first in St Tropez, then Cannes, before settling in Monaco.

“Moving to Monaco was nothing to do with taxation, as some people seem to assume. I was paying most of my taxes in the United States, so moving to Monaco did not alter that,” Smurfit writes.

Smurfit had two sons with Birgitta – Michael Alexander and Jonathan Christopher. They divorced in 1998.

“As I explained to you, if I had had a younger life, which I didn’t have, I probably would never have got married the second time,” Smurfit says now.

“I wouldn’t have let Birgitta get into my life. I wasn’t unhappily married until I met her.

“But having not sowed my own oats younger, I felt I am going to live my own life from now on, not live it for somebody else.”

* This article was amended on April 3rd 2014 to correct a date.