‘He was the one who was married. Yet I was the one who was vilified’: Rebecca Loos was living a life of quiet anonymity – until she was thrust back into the spotlight by David and Victoria Beckham’s Netflix documentary… So was she villain or victim?
Wearing a revealing minidress that wasn’t her choice and was, she would later recall, ‘very tight, short and open at the back’, Rebecca Loos’ wobbly rendition of Robert Palmer’s Addicted to Love was performed to a backdrop of audience jeers.
Her vocals were lacklustre, but when Sharon Osbourne, the judge on the ITV series X Factor: Battle Of The Stars, critiqued her, the attack appeared to be personal.
‘Try doing tomorrow’s performance with your knickers on. It would help to warm up your voice,’ Osbourne told Loos, who looked shocked as the judge went on to appraise her surgically enhanced breasts and accused her of giving off a ‘bad vibe’.
The public shaming of an arguably vulnerable contestant by a powerful woman is uncomfortable to watch and would doubtless not make it onto our screens in 2023. But such was Rebecca’s reputation as an attention-seeking marriage-wrecker back in 2006 that the show in question attracted just 48 complaints to TV watchdog Ofcom.
It had been two years since she sold the story of her alleged affair with David Beckham to the now defunct News of the World newspaper — a scandal that saw the beautiful, articulate, privately-educated diplomat’s daughter, who had been working as David’s assistant in Madrid, branded a sex-obsessed ‘Sleazy Senorita’ who accepted any C-list opportunity offered.
Rebecca Loos was living a quiet life of anonymity in Norway until this week
Eye of the storm: David Beckham with his former PA Rebecca Loos in Spain
Victoria Beckham has spoken for the first time of the pain she suffered in the aftermath of the claims about her husband David’s alleged affair with Rebecca Loos
Represented by the late agent Max Clifford — jailed for eight years in 2014 for historical sex offences — she pleasured a pig on reality television, posed topless for men’s magazines and pontificated on the state of the Beckhams’ marriage (she said it wouldn’t last).
The Beckhams, meanwhile, overcame the scandal to build their wholesome family brand, now worth an estimated £360 million, and refused to comment publicly on the allegations. Until now.
Almost 20 years on, the couple have finally addressed the aftermath of the claims in the four-part Netflix documentary Beckham that began on Wednesday. Victoria described the months following the scandal as the ‘hardest’ of her life, while David said he ‘felt physically sick every day’ as he battled to save his marriage. Both, he said, felt they were ‘drowning’.
READ MORE: The Beckhams finally break their silence on Rebecca Loos after 20 years
But what of Rebecca? Was the reputation she acquired as the most hateful woman in Britain warranted? Now 46, she’s a yoga instructor living an isolated existence in the Norwegian mountains with her doctor husband and their two children. So it’s safe to say life has changed dramatically.
These days Rebecca rarely speaks to the Press, and her social media posts paint an idyllic picture of ‘healing walks’ hot tubs and headstands.
Yet the scars, perhaps, run deep. She has declared herself ‘altered’ by the ordeal, and ‘used for ratings and notoriety’. She suffered depression and said she will ‘always have that tag — of being the girl who alleged the affair with Beckham’.
And for all her newfound zen, she has admitted feeling ‘powerless’ and said that, with hindsight: ‘I wasn’t always given the best advice and I didn’t always make the best decisions.’
So did Rebecca deserve the vitiorlic backlash? Or was she the victim of both Noughties misogyny and the mighty Brand Beckham power?
‘I know some people will always think I’m a terrible person,’ she has said. ‘Sometimes you make decisions that if you look back, you’d change. But I can’t change things, so I deal with it the best I can.’
Certainly, hindsight lends a different light to a woman who was not a typical candidate to get tangled up in such a sordid story in the first place.
Rebecca on the phone while on a shopping trip with Victoria and Romeo in Madrid
In his documentary Beckham, David admitted he still doesn’t know how they got through the 2003 crisis, but that he and his wife knew they had to ‘fight for their family’
Rebecca Loos pictured in December 2004
The daughter of Dutch diplomat Leendert Willem Alberto Loos Bartholdi and his English wife Elizabeth, she was educated at £16,000-a-year Runnymede College, an exclusive English school near Madrid, and described as someone who ‘walks, talks and dresses like a girl from Chelsea’.
After her A-Levels she worked in banking before moving into PR, joining the Madrid office of global management company SFX.
When David, then 28, moved from Manchester United to Real Madrid in the summer of 2003, Rebecca, 26, was appointed as his aide and tasked with helping the Beckhams settle in the city. It was a lonely time for the midfielder, often 800 miles away from Victoria in London and their two young sons, Brooklyn and Romeo. But he was, we should perhaps remember, still the one in a position of power.
‘We actually had a lot in common,’ Rebecca would later say of their relationship. ‘We both love cars. We’d go out driving around Madrid. He was keen to learn the language, learn about the culture and the food.’
Victoria was ‘never around’, Rebecca added: ‘He was lonely. We had a special time together and I made him happy.’
After she was pictured in a nightclub with David that September, rumours about an affair began to circulate, and Rebecca, moved by the management company to more menial duties, was reportedly terrified she’d get sacked.
By the time the story — brokered by Max Clifford — appeared in the News of the World the following April, David had removed his business from SFX and Rebecca, having been made redundant, had a job with another company.
She has said she had little choice in cooperating with the newspaper: ‘I knew it was going to come out anyway, so I wanted to control it. When the newspaper told me what they knew, I decided it would be better if I collaborated.’
The details of the alleged affair — told indirectly through a ‘friend’ — became water cooler fodder for months. We were told that David, ‘hurt’ that Victoria, concentrating on her recording career back in London, was ‘ignoring’ him, had kissed Rebecca for the first time after playing a game of Truth or Dare in a restaurant before taking her to a nightclub and then, at 3.30am, to his suite at the city’s luxury Santa Mauro hotel.
‘He held Rebecca’s head in his hands and kissed her passionately and said: ‘I have wanted to be with you like this for so long,’ ‘ recalled the ‘friend’, who added: ‘It was a very powerful moment.
New life: Rebecca spends her time eating healthily and practising yoga in Norway
In 2008, trekking the Arctic for yet another reality television series, Rebecca met Norwegian Sven Christjar Skaiaa, now her husband
‘He dimmed the lights and started taking his clothes off. Rebecca stripped off too and they stood naked in the middle of the room, kissing passionately.’
They made love ‘for hours’ and met again the following night, when ‘the lovemaking was just as passionate’.
Graphic, cryptically redacted text messages were reproduced, too (sample from David: ‘Very, very ****, thinking of your **** and the *****’).
The alleged four-month affair now public, the character assassination of Rebecca began. She was accused of flirting with other stars. Holed up in her supportive parents’ seven-bedroom Madrid mansion, she described the ordeal as ‘ten months of my life that have marked me for the rest of my life’.
Although the Beckhams didn’t respond directly, David described himself as being ‘very happily married’ and Victoria was reported as telling a family friend Rebecca was a ‘lying cow’. Victoria’s brother-in-law Haydn Isted, married to her sister Louise, called the affair a ‘pack of lies’ and Rebecca ‘a wannabe on the make’.
Certainly, as the Beckhams were pictured kissing tenderly on holiday in the French Alps within days, it seemed that way. By the following month Max Clifford claimed he had already netted Rebecca £800,000 for her story and boasted his client was enjoying her fame: ‘I can see it in her eyes. I can tell she loves the money and the attention.’
Rebecca moved to London to pursue the limelight but denied receiving such vast sums: ‘I got paid not even half of what people are quoting. I can’t buy a mansion and put my feet up for the rest of my life,’ she said — and riches she did receive came at a considerable cost.
‘People assume the attention was something that I yearned for, but it wasn’t,’ she said.
Strangers craned their necks to see what she was eating in restaurants, and dating was abandoned: ‘I’m constantly thinking: ‘Oh God, what’s he read about me?’ ‘
She got ‘dirty looks’ in shops and said: ‘I would go into a restaurant and you could see the wives telling their husbands ‘Don’t look’, and putting their arms around them as if I was going to steal them away.’
Undoubtedly, Clifford was behind some of the ill-advised media appearances that followed.
Looking back: The former England captain also told how he ‘felt physically sick everyday’ as he and Victoria (pictured in their early romance) faced a battle to save their marriage
Sweet: On Tuesday night, the couple were joined by their four children for the premiere of Beckham’s new four-part documentary which spans his life
Later that year she took part in Channel Five’s reality series The Farm, in which celebrities were filmed running a farm, and Rebecca was captured masturbating a pig to collect semen to inseminate a sow — a scene the producers must have known would attract more viewers with Rebecca than, say, fellow contestant Lionel Blair.
Predictably, it made headlines. ‘Because it was me, of course,’ said Rebecca. ‘I’m always going to have that sex-obsessed label, because I’m bisexual and I’ve had an affair with a married man.’
She parted company with Clifford, who wanted her to appear on the Playboy Channel for £250,000 — ‘I wasn’t prepared to do that,’ she said, although she did pose topless for Playboy, and men’s magazines FHM, Nuts and Zoo. The decision was perhaps as much born of a desperate need for validation as much as a desire to cash in.
She duetted with James Hewitt, the former calvary officer who had an affair with Princess Diana, on the X Factor celebrity spin-off in 2006 to raise money for Save The Children. Sharon Osbourne — a friend of the Beckhams — sneered that Rebecca was doing it for her ‘own’ charity and, after Rebecca made it through to the next round, Osbourne made an innuendo-laden comment about Rebecca having something stuck at the back of her throat.
Osbourne refused to apologise, describing Rebecca and Hewitt as ‘the guests from hell’.
A ‘stunned, angry and hurt’ Rebecca admitted in a 2013 interview that the ‘things Sharon said to me were just nasty’ and led to depression: ‘I was on anti-depressants after that.’ Yet she stressed her low mood was caused not just by the judge’s barbed critique but a build-up of ‘drinking all night’ surrounded by people she suspected didn’t have her interests at heart. ‘I was quite lonely back then,’ she said. ‘I didn’t trust the people around me. Everyone was in it for something.’
For years, Rebecca attempted to shrug off the abuse, but eventually admitted that ‘it hurts’.
Given her reputation as a marriage-wrecker, it was ironic that she constantly espoused a desire to settle down and have children. ‘Fidelity is very important — it’s number one to me,’ she once said.
Couple: They seemed a million miles away from the difficult days in Madrid at the premiere of ‘Beckham’ this week
Then in 2008, trekking the Arctic for yet another reality television series, the Dutch version of 71 Degrees North, she met Norwegian Sven Christjar Skaiaa, a doctor on the show.
Romance blossomed and Rebecca accidentally became pregnant. ‘Sven was living in Norway at the time pursuing his medical career and he didn’t really feel like moving to London,’ she said. ‘I wasn’t very keen on having a family in London. I’d always said that if I was going to have children I would move out to the country.’
So in 2009, she moved to Norway with Sven. That July she gave birth to their son, Magnus, after which she had her implants, which ‘ended up being bigger than I wanted’, taken out so she could breastfeed.
In 2012 she had second son, Liam, describing motherhood as ‘the best thing that has ever happened’, and married Sven, who was ‘100 per cent the man of my dreams’.
An online business selling maternity clothes closed and a career working in film production seems to have faltered. Yet her work as a yoga instructor appears a success, and she seems to have found happiness that long eluded her. The high heels have been exchanged for flats, and ‘reckless’ behaviour — whether posing topless or driving racing cars — has gone: ‘I’m the more cautious type now. My main focus is just being a good mother.’
Yet despite spending her days ‘practising yoga, running, biking, hiking and foraging for wild food for my two young sons’, questions doubtless remain. Why did David go on to become a national treasure, when she was denigrated?
After all, as she once put it: ‘He was the one who was married. He was the one who seduced me. He was the one who broke the promises and behaved badly — yet I was the one who was vilified.’
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