Giants star defends prenuptial agreement
Barry, Sun Bonds debate divorce terms
Tuesday, March 28, 1995
REDWOOD CITY - When she married Barry Bonds, Susann
"Sun" Branco's worldly goods fit in two suitcases. She only wanted his love, the Giants' star left fielder said.
So when she signed a prenuptial agreement giving her just a microscopic slice of Barry Bonds' assets, she knew exactly what she was doing, he said.
"We didn't think each other should take each other's property," said Barry Bonds, who spent five hours on the witness stand Monday in the Superior Court of Judge Judith Kozloski, most of it on cross-examination. "Sun and I talked about it all the time. Sun would say, "I don't want anything from you.' "
Barry Bonds, now in the third year of a six-year contract with the Giants, earns more than $7 million a year and is baseball's highest-paid player. Repeatedly, he equated his ex-wife's potential earning power with his own.
Sun Bonds, a cosmetologist, "didn't want to be dependent on no one," he said. "She had options for her career, same as I did. . . . She was entitled to her own, and I am entitled to my own."
The ballplayer, currently on strike, observed that "I could've got injured and not played," while "she had the same opportunity to make money" as a Hollywood makeup artist, he said.
The agreement was signed just hours before their Las Vegas wedding on Feb. 5, 1988, in the office of Barry Bonds' attorney. They spent their wedding night at Bally's hotel-casino in a room reserved by Barry Bonds' godfather, baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays.
Barry Bonds denied pressuring his future bride to sign the prenuptial agreement, which she had just seen, but he acknowledged that "we were not going to get married without a prenuptial agreement."
In December, the marriage ended in divorce, and Sun Bonds is in court asking that the prenuptial agreement be invalidated because it is deceptive, unequal, unfair and was foisted on her under extreme pressure when she had no one to give her legal advice.
Barry Bonds said he and Sun Bonds, a Swedish immigrant, struck sparks soon after meeting at the Twilight Zone, where she tended bar, while his Pittsburgh Pirates were playing in Montreal.
On the first date after their meeting - she had invited him to lunch, then they went dancing - "we were intimate," he said. Soon, Barry Bonds said, he was spending $700 a month on phone calls to Sun Bonds. In October, she joined him in Arizona, where he had a condominium.
Barry Bonds said he paid Sun Bonds' back rent, back taxes and the remainder of her cosmetology school tuition, as well as her plane fare to Phoenix, and she moved into his condominium.
Despite a spat, during which she threw her engagement ring at him and returned to Sweden, love bloomed.
Barry Bonds, who sometimes appeared uncomfortable on the stand because, he explained to the court, he had jammed his left thumb playing basketball, said he and Sun Bonds had frequently discussed the prenuptial agreement before the wedding. She refused repeated opportunities to bring in her own attorney to examine the agreement, he said, and the two of them went over the agreement, paragraph by paragraph, with his attorneys and her best friend, Margareta Forsberg, an architectural drafter.
"We distinguished what I had and what she had," he said.
"She came down with two suitcases, and that's all she had."
Lawrence Stotter, Sun Bonds' attorney, is contesting the authenticity of the prenuptial settlement as well as its validity, since neither party has a copy of the original agreement, and existing copies differ in their wording.
Barry Bonds, who lives in Murietta, near Riverside, is paying $30,000 a month for child support and mortgage payments on the Atherton house where Sun Bonds lives with their children, Nikolai, 5, and Shikari, 4.
Under the prenuptial agreement, Sun Bonds is not entitled to community property or alimony; upon Barry Bonds' death, she will receive 3 percent of his estate. Barry Bonds' attorneys contend that Sun Bonds is attempting to pry big money out of his assets.
She is not a put-upon, ill-educated, fresh-off-the-boat immigrant, they contend in their brief to the court, but
"a very beautiful, intelligent and aggressive young woman," who "was working in a bar in downtown Montreal when she landed Barry Bonds, a young major league player."
Barry Bonds, his attorneys say, has supported Sun Bonds
"in a manner far beyond what was contemplated in the agreement. Barry was able to provide Sun with a generous and wealthy lifestyle that few people ever experience. . . . Sun will have enough money that she will probably never have to work another day in her life," and the challenge to the prenuptial agreement "is simply unmitigated greed and deception."
The hearing, which resumed Tuesday, is expected to last from five to eight days.<
This article appeared on page A - of the Examiner