As she was presented with a five-tier birthday cake by a group of her new celebrity friends at an exclusive Miami restaurant – with Stevie Wonder’s Happy Birthday playing in the background – Victoria Beckham cracked a rare smile.
It was not just because she was celebrating turning 47, surrounded by these uber-rich Americans, but because she realised she felt very much at home in Florida.
Despite vowing never to settle in America, the former Spice Girl is now thinking of living there permanently. ‘This place is everything,’ she told her 29 million Instagram followers alongside a video of her birthday celebration. ‘I love Miami.’ The word ‘love’ was actually a pink heart emoji.
Ostensibly, the reason for the Beckhams’ presence in Florida is that husband David has launched his team, Inter Miami, in the US Major Soccer League.
But what was originally planned to be a short stopover after the family flew out on Boxing Day has turned into an open-ended four-month stay.
Another key factor in Victoria’s Florida love affair is her wish to be alongside her 22-year-old son Brooklyn, who is engaged to the daughter of an American billionaire.
Despite vowing never to settle in America, the former Spice Girl is now thinking of living there permanently. A key factor in Victoria’s Florida love affair is her wish to be alongside her 22-year-old son Brooklyn, who is engaged to the daughter of an American billionaire
Mother and son share an extremely close bond and she is loathe to be separated across the Atlantic from her eldest child.
Brooklyn was his mother’s ‘rock’ while David travelled the world as a footballer and during his subsequent money-making career. He was often her ‘date’ at London showbiz parties and was at his mum’s side while his parents endured marriage troubles.
According to friends, the thought of Brooklyn being 4,400 miles away fills Victoria with ‘utter horror’.
Previous separations have been fraught and he returned from New York, where he was at university, because they missed each other so much.
Until Brooklyn’s engagement, moving to America, say friends, ‘was the last thing that Victoria wanted to do’ after dividing her family’s time between their luxury properties in West London’s Holland Park and the Cotswolds after a five-year stint in Los Angeles.
Her fashion business in Britain has been central to her life, too.
But the sudden change of heart is down to the presence of heiress Nicola Peltz. Brooklyn moved to the States at the beginning of last year’s lockdown to be with his 26-year-old actress fiancee. Such is the closeness of their two families that they gathered en masse last week to watch David’s Inter Miami play.
One friend said: ‘It was the most beautiful twist of fate that the Beckham family had two interests in Florida: Nicola and David’s involvement in a group that’s trying to bring top-tier soccer back to Miami. It could not have worked out better.
‘They all love it there. Victoria looks so sunny and, of course, they have talked about making it their home.’
Ever since David left Manchester United in 2003, the family has had to make new cities their home very quickly, with stints in Madrid, Los Angeles, Milan and Paris. A friend says: ‘They are very adaptable but Miami seems a long-term option.’
Crucially, Nicola and Victoria share a close relationship, while Harper, the Beckhams’ nine-year-old daughter, is said to treat the investment fund heiress as a big sister.
The Beckhams have happily entrenched themselves among the Peltz tribe, with Nicola’s father Nelson, 78, his wife Claudia, 66, and Nicola’s brothers all watching Inter Miami’s season opener last week.
NEW LIFE: Victoria, Brooklyn and Harper with Claudia, Nelson and Nicola Peltz
‘They are like one, big happy family,’ says the friend. ‘It’s Victoria’s dream to hang out with such rich, glamorous and influential people.’
She is particularly in awe of Nelson, a Trump-acolyte tycoon worth £1.3 billion who owns two private jets and lives in a vast French Regency-style home in Palm Beach, Florida. He also owns a mega-mansion in Bedford, New York, with 130 acres.
It’s no secret that David and Victoria faced a quandary over a move to Miami. David, 45, was advised that, commercially, it was vital he moved to the city to prove his commitment to the area and its football team. However, it was to be a wrench.
Victoria, too, whose fashion label’s offices are just a mile from the couple’s £25 million Holland Park property, was happy in Britain. A move from London will not be easy as she remains determined to succeed with her clothes business, despite its embarrassingly large annual losses, totalling £40 million.
The designer enjoyed being in London, close to her parents Jackie and Tony, and her younger sister Louise. The couple’s youngest two children, Harper and Cruz, 16, were at school in the UK. But they took the plunge after Brooklyn proposed to Nicola with a £160,000 emerald-cut diamond ring.
They swiftly bought a glitzy, new £20 million five-bedroom Miami apartment. Until then, David was staying with his friend Marc Anthony – an ex-husband of singer Jennifer Lopez – not far from the city’s popular Ocean Drive.
The move to Florida was a rare high in what had been a difficult 2020 for Victoria, particularly after The Mail on Sunday revealed she had furloughed 30 of her staff last April. Publicly shamed after taking taxpayers’ money despite the family’s £360 million fortune, she made a humiliating U-turn and did not take the handout.
Indeed, one source says of her time in Florida: ‘Victoria enjoys the lack of scrutiny over there.’
Helping her get established in Miami are a posse of new celebrity friends. Last week she partied with Kim Kardashian and rapper Pharrell Williams at the launch of high-profile restaurateur David Grutman’s five-star Good Time Hotel, which coincided with Inter Miami’s first game of the season – a loss –against Beckham’s former side, LA Galaxy.
David Beckham, owner of Inter Miami CF, wife Victoria Beckham (L) and their daughter Harper Beckham attend the game between Inter Miami FC and the Los Angeles Galaxy, April 18
The Beckham family’s guest list included many Peltzes and American football superstar Tom Brady.
Victoria has also linked up with Grutman’s wife Isabela and Brady’s wife Gisele Bundchen – both Brazilian models.
Natalie Massenet, founder of upmarket fashion website Net-a-Porter, is also in the gang, as is Phil Neville, David’s former Manchester United team-mate, whom he hired to manage his football team after Neville left his job as manager of the England women’s football squad.
Victoria’s temptation to escape to the sunshine for good has been fired by significant changes to her working schedule forced by the pandemic. ‘She learned that she could work anywhere,’ says one friend. ‘Victoria realised that she can do her day-job from Miami – she’s able to work from home and operate on different time zones.’
Perhaps another draw is that while her fashion range is based in West London, there is speculation that she will not open her offices again and, instead, implement a ‘working from home’ policy for staff. Meanwhile, her new beauty business is based in New York, just a three-hour flight from Miami and on the same time zone.
Football apart, David is, as ever, making the most of the commercial opportunities.
He has established partnerships for his whisky brand Haig in many restaurants and bars in Miami, and has signed a deal to endorse Maserati cars, recently filming a video in the city as part of the contract.
And while the couple are said to have enjoyed their first lockdown in their £6 million home in Great Tew, Oxfordshire, life now is based in their penthouse in the One Thousand Museum, a 62-floor building which is Miami’s only residential block with a helipad.
As for the Beckham children, they’ve taken advantage of the flexibility that lockdown has offered when it has come to their schooling. With schools shut, Romeo, 18, Cruz and Harper all took their lessons online. When pupils returned to classrooms on March 8, they at first opted to continue their remote learning.
While sources close to the family say the Beckhams will return to London ‘momentarily’ so the children can attend school until the summer holidays, it is understood they will return to the US as soon as summer term ends.
So then it will be back to their new life. For David, this means games of padel tennis, an indoor racquet sport popular in Florida. Romeo has been training with the Inter Miami youth team. Cruz, who wants to be a pop star, is fascinated by street art.
Victoria, meanwhile, has been living her ‘best life’, according to those close to her. ‘It’s glamorous, sunny and swimming with celebrities,’ said one friend.
Above all, it has shown the world a rare sight – Victoria Beckham’s smile instead of her signature poker face.