It’s over: Sydney publicist Renee Murphy has filed for divorce from Il Divo’s Sebastien Izambard
An Il Divo opera singer and his Australian wife are embroiled in an acrimonious divorce after their $US12.95 million Malibu mansion burned down.
Renee Murphy was a senior publicist at Sony Music in Sydney when she fell for the charms of touring virtuoso Sebastien Izambard in 2005.
Their relationship culminated in a French castle wedding, three children and a luxurious life split between homes in California, Paris and London.
Ms Murphy reared the kids while her tenor husband toured the world, the supergroup created by Simon Cowell having sold more than 35 million albums worldwide.
But this week Ms Murphy confirmed their seemingly happy union has come to an end.
‘Last year I filed for divorce, just days before our home and contents were completely destroyed by the 2018 Californian wildfires,’ Ms Murphy said.
‘I’ve been diagnosed with a life changing illness, mostly caring alone for our three children.’
Supergroup singer Izambard used to dedicate songs to Ms Murphy, the mother of his three children. They met while the ‘suave Frenchman’ was touring Australia in 2004
A young Il Divo in 2005 with supergroup creator Simon Cowell. Sebastien Izambard is on far right with Carlos Marin (third from left), David Miller (second) and Urs Buhler (first)
The destruction of the couple’s Malibu home is understood to have left Ms Murphy financially stressed.
She is said to be desperate to return to Australia because of her health crisis.
RENEE AND SEBASTIEN IZAMBARD’S RELATIONSHIP: A TIMELINE
2005: Renee Murphy meets tenor Sebastien Izambard, who turns on the charm.
After six months talking to him, she accompanies him on a holiday to Thailand, and the couple fall in love
2006: Ms Murphy quites her role as a senior publicist at Sony and moves to Europe to be with the ‘suave Frenchman’
2008: Ms Murphy gives birth to twins – a boy and a girl – in March.
The couple marry in France in September, with Simon Cowell toasting the couple’s romance
2011: The pair have a third child, a boy, in May
2018: Their Malibu house burns down and their relationship ends
May 2019: Izambard announces the couple have split
November 2019: Ms Murphy reveals she filed for divorce and has a ‘life changing illness’
Ms Murphy said: ‘The kids and I have been through so much already … I need to get home for the support of my friends and family.
‘Being a very private person, speaking out publicly is hard but it’s time however, I need to fight for freedom and peace for my children and I.’
Ms Murphy and Izambard attracted a flurry of headlines when they first hooked up fifteen years ago.
In a newspaper article, Ms Murphy recalled how the ‘suave Frenchman’ turned on the charm while he was on tour Down Under in 2004.
‘I didn’t realise Seb was interested in me until I sat in on an interview the group was doing and he kept winking at me,’ she told Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph.
‘I ignored him at first, not wanting to jeopardise my job, but he wouldn’t give up.
‘He convinced the tour manager to give him my number, and when I returned to the office, he’d left a message asking me to call him.’
Ms Murphy eventually fell for the charming singer. Sensitive to office gossip, she disclosed their relationship to her bosses.
Various newspaper profiles paint a picture of a loving marriage, with Izambard sometimes devoting songs to his wife on stage.
Il Divo has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide since the group were formed by music producer Simon Cowell. Izambard, above, in Hollywood
A source close to Ms Murphy claimed Izambard’s hefty touring schedule had placed strain on the couple’s relationship.
The family’s home was caught up in devastating wildfires which destroyed more than 1600 properties last November.
Then, Il Divo issued a statement saying Izambard had to pull out of a performance in South Africa because his home town had been ‘heavily affected by the fires.’
‘Our thoughts are with all the emergency services putting their own lives in danger working to bring the fire under control,’ the quartet said in a statement.
This past May, Izambard posted to Instagram confirming he and Ms Murphy had split.
‘Renee and I decided a few months ago to go our separate ways,’ he captioned a picture which featured the text ‘kindness begins with me’.
The couple’s Malibu home: Izambard listed the four acre property on the market for $USD12.95million in 2017
The home was not sold and was virtually destroyed in November 2018’s devastating wildfires in Malibu
Izambard sparked speculation among his followers the day before, when he posted a viral meme about turbulent relationships titled ‘every girl’s dark thoughts’.
The meme features an apologetic man saying to a woman: ‘You’re right. I should pitch in more.’
The woman then says to herself: ‘Okay. He apologised. We can move on’, until her alter ego whispers a ‘dark thought’ into her ear.
‘He only said sorry, argue some more,’ it says.
Neither Izambard or his representatives in the United States or the United Kingdom responded to requests for comment about the split.
Divorce proceedings are on foot at the Los Angeles County Superior Courts.
Il Divo: Opera supergroup is one of Simon Cowell’s biggest successes
Il Divo was founded by legendary UK music producer Simon Cowell, best known for his role on the Idol and X-Factor television shows.
Cowell brought Frenchman Sebastien Izambard, Swiss Urs Buhler, Spaniard Carlos Marin and American David Miller together in 2003.
The supergroup released their first album the next year and have since sold 35 million records and performed for US presidents and the Queen of England.
The ‘crossover classical artists’ biggest selling single is ‘Regresi a mi’, a Spanish adaptation of Diane Warren’s Un-break My Heart released in 2004.
The group has performed for US presidents Barack Obama, George Bush and Bill Clinton and Queen Elizabeth II, while one of their songs was the official soundtrack of the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
Izambard, Miller and Buhler are tenors, while Marin is a baritone.