Helene Boshoven Samuel, or simply Leni, is the first child of German-American supermodel Heidi Klum and natural daughter of Flavio Briatore. Her mother Klum had appeared on the cover of the 1998 ‘Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue’ and was the first German model to be hired as a Victoria’s Secret Angel. She is also a famous television personality, businesswoman, fashion designer, author, actress, television producer, and singer. She has been one of the judges on the hit reality TV show ‘America Got Talent’ since 2013 and has guest-starred in various shows such as ‘Sex and the City’, ‘How I met Your Mother’, and ‘Desperate Housewives’. Her biological father, Briatore, on the other hand, is an accomplished businessman and the former Renault F1 team manager. A spitting image of her mother, Helene was born in 2004 in New York. In 2009, her stepfather, the English singer-songwriter Seal Samuel, officially adopted her.
The Meteoric Rise to Fame
Following her divorce from stylist Ric Pipino in 2002, Helene’s mother, Heidi, began dating Briatore, who was working as the manager for Renault F1 team at the time. In December 2003, Klum publically announced that she was pregnant. While the relationship was initially quite passionate, their work kept them in different continents; she was staying in Los Angeles while he lived in London. Eventually that gap became, according to Briatore, “unbridgeable”. They split up within weeks of the announcement.
Newly single, Klum first met Seal at a London awards dinner. They saw each other again a few weeks later at an exclusive gym in New York as he had just finished his workout and was wearing only a towel. Five weeks after that, they had their first date in Los Angeles; the next morning she told him about her pregnancy. Seal’s own father used to beat him with belts and fists in his youth, and his mother had been deported back to Nigeria. His painful childhood made him determined to be a good father figure himself.
He was willing to successfully shoulder the responsibility of fatherhood and he told Klum so. They continued dating and Klum gave birth to daughter Helene on May 4, 2004, in New York City, New York, USA. Seal was present for the delivery. Klum, Seal, and Briatore came to an agreement to allow Seal to be the father figure in Helene’s life. A few months after the birth, Seal proposed to Heidi 14,000 feet up on a glacier in British Columbia in December 2004. They married on May 10, 2005.
Although when she had grown up enough, Helene and Briatore used to spend two hours every day talking to each other over the phone, the latter insisted in an interview with the Italian newspaper ‘Corriere della Sera’ that “it wasn’t enough”. Helene was officially adopted by Seal in December 2009 and her name was legally changed to Helene Samuel. Klum filed for divorce from Seal on April 6, 2012. On October 14, 2015, it was finalised. Despite their divorce, Seal continues to play an important role in Helene’s life. Klum has always maintained that “Seal is Leni’s father.”
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Helene has three siblings, brothers Henry Günther Ademola Dashtu (born in 2005) and Johan Riley Fyodor Taiwo (born 2006), and sister Lou Sulola (born 2009). Tall, pretty and graceful, she is probably looking to follow her mother’s footsteps into modelling.