There was more.

Giuliani, then a Senate candidate, casually mentioned that Judith Nathan, whom he had just described as a “very good friend,” was someone he would now turn to, “more now than maybe I did before.”

It was a fitting way to introduce a relationship made for high tabloid style. He was the king of the city and soon to be “America’s mayor”; Nathan would become his muse, constant counterpart and eventual third wife, married in a pearl and diamond tiara on the lawn of Gracie Mansion.

They presided over box seats at the opera and at Yankee Stadium, as well as over a national tragedy: He comforted a shaken city after the Sept. 11 attacks; she manned call centers for its victims.

Giuliani would become a global brand, a Republican presidential candidate and, most recently, the president’s personal lawyer, using his worldwide speaking engagements to amass millions of dollars, six homes and 11 country-club memberships for the highflying couple.

Were their relationship to ever end, it could do so only in operatic fashion.

And so it has.

“Big performances, big moments, big consequences,” said Marc Mukasey, Giuliani’s former longtime law partner. “There is no dull Rudy.”

Last spring, the Giulianis filed for divorce after 16 years of marriage, setting off a rancorous battle that, like most everything Rudy Giuliani touches, demanded attention.

In caustic legal proceedings this summer, the separated couple has battled over things as prosaic as her kitchen renovations and as rarefied as his splurges — $7,131 on fountain pens and $12,012 on cigars.

“It is beyond me why either party in this case would have an interest in having all of this done publicly,” Justice Michael Katz said at an appearance last year in state Supreme Court in Manhattan. Settling privately, he advised, “would treat their relationship and marriage with more respect than divulging all our dirty laundry out for public consumption.”

Despite the judge’s advice, a trial date has been set for January, and the underlying reason, as it often is, stems from money.

A primary issue is Giuliani’s current income. His wife believes that Giuliani left his law firm, Greenberg Traurig, in 2018, a month after the divorce was filed and chose to work for President Donald Trump pro bono in order to reduce any future alimony.

Giuliani earned $7.9 million in 2016 and $9.5 million in 2017, funding the couple’s roughly $230,000-a-month lifestyle, according to Judith Giuliani’s lawyers. In 2018, the year he began working for the president, Giuliani’s earnings dipped to $6.8 million, and he has suggested that this year’s income will be well below that.

Rudy Giuliani now gives his wife $42,000 a month, as well as covering other bills, including the carrying costs for their properties, as ordered by Katz in February. Judith Giuliani must pay for the landscaping at their home in Southampton.

She says she had no choice but to take him to court, to prove what he is worth financially and get what she believes she is entitled to.

“I feel betrayed by a man that I supported in every way for more than 20 years,” she said in an interview. “I’m sad to know that the hero of 9/11 has become a liar.”

But to hear Rudy Giuliani’s circle and his legal team tell it, Judith Giuliani’s endgame tactics are merely an extension of her personality, which they have not and do not describe kindly.

As long as Rudy Giuliani has been with his now-estranged wife, many among his cadre of loyalists have provided a steady stream of knife-in-the-back impressions to reporters, almost always delivered anonymously.

They portray her as being a social climber through marriage, someone who rose from her background as a nurse by marrying twice before meeting the mayor of New York City.

And once she found her third husband, Judith Giuliani was accused of pushing her new husband’s children and many of his nearest friends away in an effort to control him.

“It seemed overtly apparent to the people that were close to him that she was jealous,” said Bernard Kerik, the former New York police commissioner and Giuliani ally, who spent time in prison for tax fraud. “But there was nothing to be possessive about. He is a public figure, he’s a political figure, and you’re really well taken care of.”

“Every single one of his closest friends,” Kerik continued, “she diminished those relationships and she slaughtered those friendships.”

On a recent day trip in from their Southampton mansion to the midtown office of her lawyer, Bernard Clair, who has represented, among others, Jocelyn Wildenstein in another made-for-tabloid divorce trial (her settlement was reported to be $2.5 billion), Judith Giuliani sat drinking a coffee.

The cup said Dunkin’. “Cops’ and nurses’ coffee,” she said.

She slid a packet of press clippings about her and her husband across the table. On top was a 2006 edition of Women and Cancer magazine, which chronicles her role as her husband’s caregiver as he battled prostate cancer.

“Whatever he asked me to do, I did with him and for him; I loved him,” she said, adding: “I don’t enjoy politics. I enjoyed supporting my husband.”

When Rudy Giuliani learned that he had cancer shortly before that surprise announcement in Bryant Park, his new paramour was there for him; he has referred to her as his “Nurse Nancy.”

After his devastating showings in the 2008 Republican presidential primaries, she said, Giuliani was almost catatonic. She nursed him then, too, hunkered down at her parents’ Florida condo. In 2017, when he was incapacitated after a fall, she nursed him again in Southampton, she said.

She recalled how his posse complained at the time that she pushed away even his security team; according to Judith Giuliani, she wanted to protect her husband’s pride.

“She has put 20 years into this relationship,” said her friend Andrea Ackerman, a real estate agent from whom she has purchased six homes. “She is not folding. Not this time, uh-uh.”

Rudy Giuliani’s personal life seems to disintegrate in roughly decade-and-a-half cycles: His 14-year marriage to his first wife, Regina Peruggi, ended in a comparatively subdued manner in annulment shortly before he became U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York in 1983.

His second marriage, to Hanover, lasted 16 years and went far less quietly: After Giuliani’s startling news conference came more headlines, when Hanover sought and received a legal order barring Nathan from the mayoral residence in 2001.

If there is one regret for Rudy Giuliani as his life once again upends in public, it is that his personal problems end up ensnaring the people around him, he said in an interview. “Everybody’s life around you is being disrupted. You get the pain of that, but also you get the satisfaction of what it means to be in public office — they don’t,” he said. “There is a certain amount of guilt in that.”

Swirled into the current divorce proceedings is more scandal-ready fodder: intimations of Giuliani’s involvement with yet another woman.

In court, Judith Giuliani has claimed that her husband spent $286,532 since their divorce commenced on a woman named Maria Rose Ryan, the chief executive of a small New Hampshire hospital, with whom he has traveled abroad.

Any suggestion that Rudy Giuliani and Ryan were having an affair would be categorically false, according to Ryan’s daughter, Vanessa Ryan, who is Giuliani’s personal assistant.

She said her mother sometimes serves as a consultant for Giuliani. He had brought her in, the daughter said, to close some deals because “she can talk a bum into buying a ham sandwich. She’s a great businesswoman.”

“You think his ex-wife would be happy about that,” Ryan added. “She’s bringing more money.”

Giuliani has also denied any romantic relationship with Ryan’s mother, but the accusation is another echo of the past: Hanover accused him of being intimately involved with a staff member, Cristyne Lategano-Nicholas; they both have consistently denied any improper relationship took place.

Giuliani insisted that his relationship woes did not affect his stewardship as the mayor of New York City, just as they do not affect his ability to assist Trump’s legal defense. If anything, he said, the president’s familiarity with how marital squabbles can be front-page news earned him a fair amount of empathy.

“When you do what I do, and this could speak for most people in public office, or in demanding jobs, you compartmentalize. Believe it or not in a strange way you might even do better” under the duress, Giuliani said. “Because you concentrate harder.”

He continued: “There is a great opera, ‘Pagliacci.’ He finds out — he has a much younger wife — and he sees her kissing another man. He says, ‘I’ve got to go out and laugh, and my heart is breaking, but this is the job I have to do.’ Then he gives a great performance,” Giuliani said.

“Then he kills his lover,” he added. “But I wouldn’t do that.”

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