South African billionaire, Douw Steyn is the CEO and founder of the BGL group which is an insurance company based in the UK. Douw is also known for his impressive real estate collection, especially Steyn City, a 900-hectare sized piece of land that is soon going to be turned into a luxurious private estate. He and his family live in his palatial mansion dubbed Palazzo Steyn City – an architectural masterpiece comprising East-Asian, European, Italian and Indian designs. He is most notably known for his ties to South African hero, Nelson Mandela. In a famous gesture, he hosted Mandela at the Southern Sun Estate when he was newly released from prison in 1990 and later bought him the Houston Estate.
The extremely private billionaire’s decision to keep his life away from the prying eyes of the public might be the reason why much is not known about his family. Nevertheless, he has been married thrice in his lifetime (twice to the same woman). His first wife was named Elizabeth Margaret Steyn and they had two sons together named – Tjaart Steyn and Louis Steyn. His second wife, Carolyn Steyn, married, divorced and then married him again in what could be described as the purest expression of romantic entanglement you’ve ever heard. And they have lived together happily since then.
How The Love Story Between Douw Steyn and Carolyn Steyn Has Unfolded
The relationship between Douw and Carolyn Steyn perfectly suits the saying that ‘every disappointment is a blessing in disguise.’ This popular phrase comes readily to mind when describing the circumstances that led to the meeting of the lovebirds. Carolyn Steyn was a relatively unknown actress based in the United States. She was on the brink of landing her biggest movie role yet, a role that would have projected her career upward – when she received a call asking her to come back home (to South Africa) and care for her terminally ill mother.
Carolyn immediately flew back to South Africa so she could be by her mother’s bedside and met Douw on the plane. They were immediately attracted to each other and when he invited her to accompany him to a business dinner party as his date, she accepted. When recounting that romantic dinner party in an interview, Caroline said they danced together to an Andrew Lloyd Webbers ballad and he told her point-blank that he was going to marry her. Her first feeling was one of incredulous surprise, but she gathered her wits and brushed off his impromptu proposal. It was the first time Caroline had found herself in a circle of wealthy businessmen and she felt out of place.
But Douw did not become one of South Africa’s richest men by giving up too easily. He kept pressing until she began to trust him. When talking about how he courted her, Carolyn admitted that he was a very intense and overwhelming man and that was what made him so intriguing. All this happened in the year 1998 and they started a serious romantic relationship and dated for about five years.
A Tale Of Two Weddings: Douw Married Carolyn in 2003 and 2013
In 2003, Doug and Carolyn got married for the first time. The marriage was regrettably short-lived as it lasted for only 5 months. Carolyn said that she found it very difficult to live with him. It’s not easy to determine exactly why the marriage crashed because even after their divorce, they remained very close. They tried to move on and Douw actually got engaged to another woman but the marriage never went through. In another interview, Carolyn admitted that Douw was very addictive and she could never move too far from him.
The duo decided to put an end to their misery after ten years and they re-married in a lavish wedding in February 2013. The wedding took place at the 5-star Saxon Boutique Hotel, one of Douw’s hotel collections. The lavish wedding ceremony had some of South Africa’s most prominent personalities in attendance, among them: Michael de Pinna, Timothy Moloi, and Graca Machel.
Carolyn Steyn Was An Actress Before She Met Her Billionaire Husband
Even though she is most commonly referred to as ‘Billionaire’s Wife’, Carolyn Steyn has achieved a lot for herself outside the influence of her husband’s wealth. Formerly Carolyn Barkuizen, the 63-year-old is a South African radio personality, philanthropist, and actress, best known for her ‘67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela’ initiative. She was born on the 17th of May 1960 to Yvonne Mazotti Barkuizen (mother) in Johannesburg City.
Carolyn had her high school education in 1977 at Jeppe Girls’ High. She attended college at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and graduated in 1981 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dramatic Arts. She later moved to the US for 10 years and studied at Beverly Hills Playhouse alongside famous actors like Kate Hudson, Doris Roberts, Giovanni Ribisi, and Tony Danza. She certainly used to roll with the crème de la crème of Hollywood at the time.
Although she is not Charlize Theron, her acting credits are quite impressive. While living in London in the late 2000s, she starred in numerous Los Angeles plays like Betrayal, Private Lives, and Shadowlands. She returned to South Africa in 2013 after her wedding and began to feature in local South African movies. Some of her most popular appearances were on TV series, Generations, and movies like Mandela’s Gun (2016), Zulu Wedding (2017), and Harry’s Game (2017). She also hosted a lot of radio shows and currently co-hosts the show, ‘Whispers’ with Michael De Pinna.
She Is The Founder Of 67 Blankets For Nelson Mandela
Carolyn Steyn did not achieve billionaire status like her husband but she has made a lot of positive impact with her philanthropy. Her ‘67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela’ initiative has become a global phenomenon, setting the world record for the largest area covered by a blanket in 2015.
She was hosting a birthday lunch party for her husband when she was approached by Zelda LaGrange, (Mandela’s long-time personal assistant), who was one of the guests. They had a casual conversation, but that was the spark that lit the bulb in Carolyn’s head and ’67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela’ was born. The initiative was set up to provide the poor with blankets while enabling impoverished South Africans to earn honest wages through crocheting. This remains Carolyn Steyn’s biggest legacy to date.
Douw Steyn Has Two Children From His First Wife
The couple has not had any biological children together, however, Douw Steyn has two sons with his first wife, Elizabeth whose names are Tjaart and Louise Steyn. They were both born and raised in Johannesburg. Not much is known about Tjaart because his life was kept extremely private, mainly because his father maintains a tight grip on what his family members can reveal to the press. The only time Tjaart was mentioned in the tabloids was when he and his father’s former security chief officer, Brad Wood, had a physical altercation. Tjaart pressed charges and Wood went to prison for attempted extortion and physical assault. Even less is known about his younger brother, Louis.
In November 2014, they set up a foundation in honor of their mother. The foundation was named the Elizabeth Margaret Steyn Foundation (EMS). The two brothers seemed to enjoy working with each other and together they developed the Maboneng precinct, transforming a city once full of abandoned buildings into a livable, artistic and hip entertainment district opening up further employment opportunities for Maboneng citizens.
A Timeline Of The Love Life Of The South African Billionaire, Douw Steyn
The insurance billionaire has had his fair share of women, a couple of which seemed to bring him more trouble than romantic bliss. Although he was legally married three times (twice to the same person – which is his current wife Carolyn Steyn), he has other relationships that played out in public. This includes his relationship with Donne Botha which ended in a dramatic court battle over spousal rights. Douw Steyn must be a happy man at the moment with Carolyn, considering what he’s been through.
Douw Steyn and Elizabeth Margaret Steyn
Douw Steyn’s very first marriage was to Elizabeth Margaret Steyn in the 1980s. Elizabeth was a social worker and a fan of Nelson Mandela. She was a social rights activist during the period that Mandela was released from prison and she was determined to do all she could to enable a smooth transition from apartheid. Elizabeth once served as a trustee of the Nelson Mandela Children Fund. She and Douw later got divorced, but it is unclear when. She is still a determined and feisty activist, fighting for social justice but she doesn’t have any known social media handles.
Douw Steyn and Donne Botha
Donne Botha was a personal trainer when she met Douw at a party in Sandton in 2005. The black-haired beauty did not hesitate to accept Douw’s proposal, even though she was 14 years younger than he was. They were engaged from 2005 to 2009. Things moved from sweet to sour in this four-year period due to serious misunderstandings between the couple.
In August 2007, the couple had a ‘marriage blessing’ ceremony at the Lanesborough Hotel in London. It was an extravagant ceremony with the bride’s dress costing not less than €30,000 at the time. During the recital of vows, Douw joked that he wanted the marriage to last for a month, then Donne countered laughingly that two weeks was better. It seemed like a joke but alas, it was not. Exactly one month after, Donna filed for divorce from Douw and in 2014, she took him to court demanding spousal settlement.
Douw Steyn and Bianca Ferrante
Bianca Ferrante was the beautiful, young beautician that caught Douw’s attention when she was lunching with her friend at a hotel. In what Bianca thought was a case of love at first sight, Douw sent for a jeweler to get a tray of stone rings so that they would be engaged. Bianca detested the idea of a shot-gun wedding and suggested to him that they should take things slowly instead. They began dating on the 4th of April in 2006 according to a court report.
Less than a week later, she was assaulted in a Saxon Boutique hotel room by Douw’s then-fiancée, Donne Botha. Donne attempted to stab her with a broken bottle and she sustained a couple of injuries although none of the wounds were fatal. In 2007, Ferrante claimed the sum of R1.2 million in damages from Douw Steyn. She claimed also that Douw had breached his promise to marry her; a promise he denied ever making. She also sued Douw, Donne, and Saxon Boutique Hotel in a separate lawsuit. Steyn responded with a countersuit and laid charges of extortion and intimidation against her and her lawyers.
Douw Steyn and Donne Botha Had A Nasty Fight In Court
Donne Botha’s first stint in court happened immediately after her assault on Bianca Ferrante. She was charged with attempted murder and her trial began in 2008. Donne claimed she was drunk and couldn’t remember the incident. She was found guilty of assault and fined R3,000. Again in 2014, Donne Botha filed a bid for half of Douw Steyn’s estate. In the litigious battle that ensued, Donne demanded a monthly sum of R100,000 as spousal support until the event of her death or remarriage.
When asked of her proof of marriage, all she could present was the evidence of the ceremony that occurred in a London hotel over 7 years ago. She claimed that Douw had assured her of the legality of the ceremony once they had signed the wedding register.
In Douw’s defense, Adrian Christmas, a British lawyer told the court that the ceremony in London was simply a “blessing ceremony” and not a lawful wedding. He further explained that his client, Douw, approached him and revealed that he was unable to comply with the requirements for a wedding license in England. Steyn was then advised to hold a ceremony of some sort, so as not to disappoint the invited wedding guests.
His legal counsel also summoned English Law expert Janet Kentridge, who then confirmed that there was no legal marriage in the absence of a registrar. This meant that only the registrar issues a license and there was none at the ceremony. After examining all the evidence, Justice Khosi Hadebe ruled that there was no wedding and issued a punitive cost order against Donne Botha.