Sad reason Mel B lost $140 million
Mel B was left with $1400 and a case of clothes when she walked out on her second marriage last year.
The Spice Girl, who has made $140 million, says abusive ex Stephen Belafonte seized control of her finances.
In her new book Mel, 43, also reveals comedian Eddie Murphy was the love of her life but she was "spectacularly dumped" after leaving him for a few days to think about their relationship.
In Brutally Honest Mel says: "In the past 20-something years of my life, I have made more than £80 million (AU$140 million).
"When I met my second husband (Stephen), I had a house and a loft apartment in LA and a good career. When I left him I walked away with US$936 (AU$1276) in a bank."
Mel tells how her year-long affair with Eddie, 57, ended when she returned to Leeds while pregnant with their child.
He thought she'd left him but Mel insists she always intended to return. She admits: "I'd been madly in love with Eddie and I lost him."
And of controlling Stephen, who she met after Eddie, she adds: "From being an independent single mum, I became a woman who didn't know her bank details, didn't make decisions and had no friendly relationships with old friends or family."
'STEPHEN MADE ME FEEL UGLY … LIKE I WAS A TOTAL WASTE OF SPACE'
The truth behind Mel B's two most recent relationships is as surprising as it is heartbreaking.
Scary Spice now calls one of the men "a monster" and the other "the love of my life".
A ten-year marriage to Stephen Belafonte - which ended last year - appeared to be perfect. The couple shared glamorous homes in Hollywood as her career flourished.
An earlier fling with comedy legend Eddie Murphy was written off as meaningless, with an unplanned pregnancy and disputed paternity.
But nothing could be further from the truth.
Mel says wistfully: "Eddie was and still is the love of my life. He's a genuinely decent man."
It was only when they split up that Stephen came into her life - and then subjected her to a decade of emotional and verbal abuse.
She says: "I became a woman who didn't have her own computer, didn't drive herself, didn't know her bank details, didn't make decisions."
Mel has made "more than £80 million (AU$14 million)," had a ten-bedroom pile in up-market UK town Marlow, Bucksnghamshire just outside of London, a loft apartment in LA and owned an impressive collection of art and furniture.
But when she left Stephen last year she had "less than US$1000 (AU$1364)".
She says: "I walked away with nothing but US$936 (AU$1276) in a bank account and suitcases full of clothes, books and toys. I didn't care. I was happy. My kids were happy. Finally, after ten years, I was free."
Mel has decided to bare her soul in a new autobiography Brutally Honest, which is being serialised by UK newspaper The Sun.
She reveals Eddie had asked her to marry him when their relationship suddenly and spectacularly veered off the rails. She says: "It's like a love story where we both have different versions of why it ended."
Physically, Melanie Brown, as she was known at school in Leeds, is a lot smaller than the perception of the "gobby one" always looming large in the Spice Girls videos.
There's something childlike about her - an infectious enthusiasm that quickly bubbles to the surface when she's excited but dissipates rapidly when someone approaches that's she unsure of.
In front of the camera, she's exquisitely made up and sharply dressed. Off it, she's happiest barefaced in a tracksuit or, better still, pyjamas. She's not "scary" at all. She's disarmingly open and likeable, very much a woman's woman.
Writing her warts n' all life ("so far") story has been a bruising yet cathartic experience that, she believes, will draw a line under a deeply painful few years.
She says: "Good, bad or ugly, I'm going to peel back the layers and tell it like it was. You can judge me or you can try and understand me."
For our interview, she's wearing a Women's Aid top with "Unbreakable" on it, a reminder of the abuse suffered in her marriage to Belafonte, who she calls "the monster".
She says: "I don't think any other woman could have survived it the way that I did. So I'm glad the book will expose him for the next woman he's trying to woo. This is a bad, twisted person who's going to prey on a woman's vulnerability, openness or happiness and just crush every part of it."
Stephen, now 43, met her in 2007. Mel recalls: "Eddie had publicly dumped me, I'd just given birth to our daughter Angel, and suddenly, here was this man who found me attractive and said he wanted to look after me."
Instead, over the next decade, he used, abused and financially ruined her. "He made me feel ugly," she says.
"Like a waste of space. Like I was a terrible mother, a whore. Like I was lucky to be married to him because no one else would put up with trash like me. So what would I do? Me, so-called Scary Spice? I'd nod. Or laugh. I would - like a controlled or emotionally abused wife - do anything to stop him kicking off.
"'Do you want to f*** then?' I'd ask coldly. Anything to make it stop. I felt emotionally battered, estranged from my family. I felt detested by the very man who promised to love and protect me … a man who had a library of sex tapes that could ruin my career and destroy my family."
To understand how she found herself subsumed by Belafonte, it must be placed in the context of who came before: Eddie Murphy. They met at a dinner party - "it was as if a 2,000-volt electric current had passed between us".
The following day, Eddie invited her to his Hollywood mansion where she ran through the vast lobby bellowing: "I'm here, where are you?"
A concerned member of staff emerged to say "Mr Murphy doesn't like anyone making loud noises" but then the man himself boomed back. "I think he does now," said Mel, chased by a laughing Eddie.
She says: "From the get-go we were like two excitable kids."
Mel continued to push Eddie's boundaries. He had a vast jacuzzi he'd never been in, so she made him sit in it, naked. They had "English afternoon tea" with Mel's daughter Phoenix, then seven, and his kids (he had seven at the time) in the Wendy house. She demanded he cook breakfast, not his staff.
He was brilliant with Phoenix ("she adored him"), even reading her old school reports.
For the first six weeks, they only kissed and cuddled. "Eddie is old-fashioned," she says. "He was constantly telling me to slow down."
When sex finally happened, "it was like poetry, every touch, every kiss, every sense was out of this world. We were completely besotted with each other."
Two months later, her welder dad Martin flew over to meet the man whose films he loved, and Eddie asked him for his daughter's hand in marriage. "Dad said yes," says Mel. "Which was a relief because I had already designed a beautiful wedding ring from Cartier."
But Eddie's living arrangements troubled her. His mum Lillian lived with him, as did his older brother Charlie, friends and staff.
Even holidays involved a crowd. In July 2006, she persuaded him to go to Mexico on their own, "a first for Eddie and all those people who expected they'd be coming too".
Weeks later, a pregnancy test was positive. She says: "He lifted me in the air, not caring I was still waving the stick around."
Soon after, she delivered the good news to Lillian, who replied: "Well, that's clever of you, isn't it?" They planned to wed at Christmas but decided to wait until after the birth. Melanie suggested they buy a house - 50/50 split - while keeping their others for independence.
He refused and rows started. A pal advised her to give him "the silent treatment". She says: "I told Eddie, 'I need a break for a few days. I need time to think.' 'Are you insane?' he said. 'What do you need to think about?'"
She grabbed Phoenix and flew home to Leeds to see her mum Andrea. Eddie called constantly but she didn't answer. After a few days, she returned to "make it work".
But while she was on the plane, Eddie was asked about the pregnancy by a TV reporter.
He replied: "We're not together anymore, and I don't know whose that child is until it comes out and has a blood test." When Melanie landed at LAX with Phoenix she was confronted by a mob of reporters.
She says: "I felt sick, humiliated and confused."
Eddie rang to say he'd been caught off guard and, as she'd been incommunicado, hadn't known what to say.
She recalls: "I won't repeat what I said, but Eddie cut me off … I called one last time. I was hurt, devastated and raging." She told him she couldn't forgive him.
Mel recalls: "He said, 'Well, you left me.' He sounded cold. I explained I hadn't, then said, 'I'm going to have to leave you now as this is what you've done to me'. I was pregnant. Dumped in public and made to look like a complete and utter slut and gold digger. I wasn't prepared for that tidal wave of vitriol crashing over me. I still can't forget being heavily pregnant with Angel and dropping Phoenix to school and a man driving past yelling 'Whore!' at me in front of all those LA mums."
Around two years ago, Lillian turned up at Melanie's door in LA and announced: "I'd like to take my granddaughter out to lunch."
Mel says: "It's funny because now his mum's in my life and she's like, 'You've always been my favourite' and I'm like, 'Oh stop it Lillian'. Angel spends weekends with Eddie now, and that she's getting to know the man she so reminds me of is one of the greatest joys of my life."
Eddie is engaged to Australian model Paige Butcher who's expecting his tenth child, but if he'd been single and said "let's try again", would she have considered it?
"I don't know, I haven't thought about it," she says, somewhat unconvincingly. "He's at a different phase in his life, and so am I."
One of her tattoos reads: "'Till death do us part you own my heart." She pulls a face and says: "It had 'Stephen' at the start, but I've had that cut out.
"The piece of skin is in a jar at home. I was going to burn it. I might just drop it in the toilet."
With that, she lets out that distinctive throaty laugh. Feisty Spice is back in the room.
This story first appeared on The Sun and has been republished here with permission.