Dorian Gray had a portrait in the attic; eternal bachelor Simon Cowell is said to have an engagement ring in his safe.
According to a source, the bauble was bought some time ago for his partner of seven years, Lauren Silverman.
However it has never been presented to her along with the proposal of marriage which she has hoped for.
Six years after Simon Cowell (left) and Lauren Silverman (right) had their son, Eric, the couple still have not got married – so why has the X Factor judge not tied the knot yet?
Why? Well, for reasons we shall come to later, the entertainment mogul, now 60 and worth £385 million, hasn’t quite been able to take the plunge.
Not that this is a particular reflection on Lauren, whom he loves, or on their son Eric, six, whom the music mogul has said he adores ‘beyond anything I have ever experienced’.
Friends say it’s just that Simon ‘can’t bear’ the idea of matrimony, monogamy or losing his freedom. This is no secret.
He tells interviewers: ‘I don’t believe in marriage, not in this business.’
More recently, when questioned about tying the knot, he exclaimed: ‘Gulp!’ Then he mumbled that he preferred to let things happen in life, rather than to plan.
Now come reports that Simon and Lauren, 42, have split up — inadvertently sparked by Amanda Holden’s daughter, Hollie, eight, who said during an Instagram live stream that she had heard they were no longer an item.
Amanda Holden has explained that her daughter was mistaken.
Rumours circulated in recent days that the couple had split up, but they have so far proven to be mistaken
Yesterday, came another claim that Lauren was suspicious of Simon’s friendship with former Spice Girl, Mel B, and had sent the singer texts asking if they were having an affair. So what is going on?
Simon and Lauren are currently isolating at his £27 million Beverly Hills mansion, as they have been for the past six weeks. A spokesman for Cowell insists: ‘They are happy as a couple.’
He points out that they are spending more time together now than ever.
Although Cowell is not without his professional woes —The X Factor, already losing ratings, is being rested this year — his personal life had seemed to have enjoyed a boost of late with him shedding more than 20lb in weight thanks to a vegan diet.
Other reports claimed that Silverman had become suspicious that her husband (right) was having an affair with fellow America’s Got Talent judge Mel B (left)
Speaking on ITV’s Lorraine last year, he said: ‘When you become a dad, something clicks in you. It’s all about them .’
In the normal course of affairs, Lauren spends one week in Los Angeles with Simon and their young son Eric followed by a week in New York where her older son Adam lives with his father Andrew Silverman, Lauren’s ex-husband. There are, then, frequent separations and this seems to suit Simon.
One close associate said: ‘He’s never given the ring to her and never proposed. Getting married is an obsession of hers, that is her goal in the relationship — but he will not do it.’
He added that Lauren was ‘hurt’ by this state of affairs but that the relationship nevertheless endures.
‘She is very sassy and very intelligent and very good for him. She’s a very decent person and a good mother, but he can’t commit to just one woman for the rest of his life. He wants his freedom.
‘The thing is that Lauren knew exactly the sort of man he was when she chose him.’
According to a source, getting married is Silverman’s main obsession but Cowell will not get down on one knee
This much is true — Lauren and her property developer husband Andrew were friends with Cowell when he got engaged to his former make-up artist Mezhgan Hussainy in 2009.
They were also in his social circle two years later when Simon realised he had made a mistake in proposing, buying Hussainy a house in Bel Air as a gilt-edged goodbye.
Lauren and her husband also spent several holidays with Cowell aboard the Slipstream yacht in Barbados and the Mediterranean when the music mogul was in the habit of travelling with a ‘harem’ of beautiful women.
The Silvermans were among those on board when Simon indulged in a mini fling with heiress Zeta Graff.
The couple were also with Cowell at the Spearmint Rhino strip club in Las Vegas when they celebrated the birthday of his ‘Girl Friday’ Kelly Bergantz.
Given that the Silvermans had been friends of Cowell’s for four years by now, the revelation in 2013 that Lauren had become pregnant with Simon’s child was a bombshell.
The baby, Eric, was conceived when Lauren was on a trip to London. A divorce was hastily arranged, and relations between the two parties were so strained that for the first few years, Cowell wasn’t allowed to meet or see Lauren’s older boy.
The revelation that Silverman had become pregnant with Simon’s child in 2013 was a bombshell
Cowell remarked: ‘I’m not proud of the circumstances. I can’t hold my head up about it. But we have all moved on.’
For a time, there was an expectation that the boss of The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent would marry Lauren Silverman, a middle class girl from Miami. He made equivocal comments about how it would only be ‘fair’ to do so.
Her thrice-married mother Carole said: ‘I trust Simon to do the right thing by my daughter.’ And yet she and Simon remain unmarried. Not that Lauren is a woman without influence. Indeed, those who know her say she is the most powerful woman in Simon’s life.
For a start, she has put paid to his ‘harem days’ when he would surround himself with gorgeous women who would bicker over him and compete for his attention.
‘Simon absolutely loved it when the women were all fighting over him,’ says a source.
In 1995, when Cowell was a music company executive, his girlfriend Louise Payne was surprised to find that singer Sinitta and another ex-girlfriend, Jackie St Clair, were virtually living with him in his house in Richmond.
Those days are over. His PR says simply that he has more ‘family oriented holidays’ now.
Another source says more simply that the harem is no more — and that this is Lauren’s doing.
‘She may not have a ring on her finger, but Lauren has cleared the decks of all of them,’ I’m told.
Certainly, Simon no longer sees Jackie St Clair, one of his longest standing confidants.
When he was 50, he bought her a Lowry painting as a token of his esteem. They had met on the nightclub scene in the 1980s and formed a close bond.
Likewise Sinitta — at his side on cruises in Barbados for years as well as an occasional guest on the X Factor — is also no longer in the inner circle.
Long-term companion Sinitta (left) was left distraught when Cowell got Silverman pregnant as it meant she had lost him
Sinitta said in a recent interview that she was devastated when Simon got Lauren pregnant as it meant that she had lost him. She, too, thought she would have married Simon, eventually.
‘I really believed when he got all the madness of the other women out of his system we’d end up together,’ she said. Other women who no longer seem to be in his circle are Kelly Bergantz and Mezhgan Hussainy.
Extraordinarily, both of them flew over to Miami to spend time with Simon and Lauren when Eric was just a few days old — as did another ex-girlfriend, Terri Seymour.
Simon told me at the time: ‘It’s the whole posse. It should be fun, that’s the idea.’ However, Lauren’s influence extends further than just his social circle.
In 2015, Simon Cowell resolved to oust Sir Philip Green from his company Syco after the tycoon insulted Lauren. It was a business decision that cost him £10 million.
In the days after Eric was born, Cowell’s ex-girlfriend Terri Seymour flew to Miami to spend time with the new parents
The two men had previously been very close, with Green acting almost as a father figure for Cowell.
They holidayed together at Sandy Lane, Barbados, every Christmas and the Greens were in such a position of trust that Green’s wife Tina organised the spectacular celebrations for Cowell’s 50th birthday. On a personal level, friends of Green say that he had helped Cowell with advice after Lauren Silverman fell pregnant with his child.
However the Cowell-Green relationship soured dramatically after a business meeting at Cowell’s home in Holland Park in November 2015. Green was apparently rude to Lauren, who happened to be present. Green bluntly asked why Lauren was there.
An enraged Cowell was said to have ordered Green to get out of his house. He eventually bought Green out of Syco.
A source describes Lauren’s influence on Simon as ‘considerable’.
He said: ‘She is very, very involved in his businesses and gives advice, and it is good advice.
‘She makes good judgements about people and who he should trust. She is amazingly loyal and supportive to him.’
The deal to bring Robbie Williams and wife Ayda Field onto the judging panel of the X Factor in 2018 was also facilitated by Lauren, who was friends with Ayda.
Lauren Silverman has had an impact on Simon’s career choices too – the decision to invite Robbie Williams (left) and his wife Ayda Field (second left) to the X Factor 2018 judging panel was her idea
The two couples then became close with Lauren inviting them to celebrate her birthday at Annabel’s nightclub in London and also entertaining them with a Thanksgiving dinner — the kind of homely event which Cowell never would have dreamed of before she was on the scene.
Certainly, at Syco’s annual summer party last year, the couple could hardly have looked happier. Lauren was stunning in a pink dress, and was never more than a few paces from Simon.
It’s her habit to hold his cigarettes, which means that they are joined at the hip at events.
She was also there in his dressing room during the filming of Britain’s Got Talent last summer, grumbling in a good natured way about how men always seem to find it easier to lose weight than women. Yet for all her pre-emience in his life, there have been suggestions of insecurity on Lauren’s part. Understandable, perhaps, given his patchy relationship history.
This week there were claims that Lauren was so spooked by Simon’s friendship with former Spice Girl Mel B that she sent the singer texts asking if they were having an affair. Sources say that Lauren had read an item in an online gossip magazine linking Simon to Mel B in July 2018 — and texted Mel B.
A friend of Cowell and Silverman said that online gossip forced the latter to text Mel B and confront her over the affair rumours
‘It was along the lines of: “I’ve seen this and its upsetting to me. Please reassure me that there is nothing going on,’’ ’said a friend.
Another said: ‘It was no great drama — it was a perfectly reasonable text just to make sure all was well.’
One source says: ‘She is that bit smarter than any of his previous girlfriends. A lot of people will tell you that the spark has gone out of the romance or that this is ending up like the Terri Seymour relationship, where it just became more and more distant until Terri took the hint and walked away with dignity.
‘People do come and go from his circle. But Lauren is still there, she’s seen off all the others, and she might just get that ring on her finger yet.’
Not everyone is so convinced.
In another interview, given at the time that Lauren fell pregnant, he said: ‘I’m fine as I am. I think that when you get into a rut, it gets boring. No matter how big your house is, you are going to end up on the same sofa, in the same bed or in the same room as a person, you are going to get bored. It’s a boring routine.
‘Being on my own is the best thing in the world. It’s like breathing in oxygen.’