Their romance is over, but the public relations war between Todd English and Erica Wang has just begun. A day after English told us he'd been beaten up by his former fiancee, Wang called us and read a one-sentence statement.
"We both knew that neither of our parents approved of this marriage for a very long time, but that does not explain why he's now making up awful things about me," said Wang, who refused to answer questions.
The call was arranged by a confidante of the would-be bride, who's been handling her many media requests but wouldn't allow his name to be used. Apparently intent on keeping her feud with the famous foodie alive, Wang was scheduled to be on the "Today" show this morning.
English and Wang, who'd dated for two years, were set to get married Oct. 3 at the St. Regis Hotel in New York. But English disappeared several days before the wedding, finally calling Wang the day of the ceremony to cancel. Wang proceeded without the groom, partying on her own with 150 or so guests.
The rep said there's no excuse for canceling a wedding at the last minute.
"She is blameless," he said. "(English's) handlers can't defend what he did, so they've come up with the two things people always say about women: She's crazy and greedy."
Wang, who is 16 years younger than the 49-year-old English, met the chef at one of his restaurants, and later quit her job as a concierge at the Peninsula Hotel in New York to spend more time with him.
A longtime friend of the chef's told us yesterday that he and others, including the restaurateur's own mother, tried several times to talk English out of the marriage. (English has three children -- Oliver, 19, Isabelle, 16, and Simon, 13 -- with his ex-wife Olivia.)
English had told friends and family that Wang had a fierce temper and sometimes hit him, including once with his own watch, opening a cut around his eye. One friend told us he warned English that the volatile relationship could put his business empire in jeopardy. Others were worried about Wang's spending habits, citing $35,000 charges at Chanel and a $6,000 purchase at Neiman Marcus a few days after the wedding was canceled.
"They were in love," said Wang's rep. "Nobody is suggesting they were not in love." That's true. Though he has a reputation as a lothario, English told us he did love Wang. "But," he said, "I can see this is the best thing for the both of us."
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