March 24, 2023

By Josh Boswell For


Vicious accusations that Transformers actress Nicola Peltz pushed her nanny down the stairs and terrorized household staff of her mega-rich parents have been vehemently denied by the nanny’s family in exclusive interviews with
A flurry of articles in 2009 cited anonymous household staff members for the billionaire Peltz family claiming that the then 14-year-old Nicola had a nanny frog-marched out by security and that her mother fired a butler on Easter Sunday after forcing him to scrub the same toilet four times.
But photos and exclusive interviews with the family of the late nanny Gina Sampaio reveal the heartwarming relationship she and the Bates Motel star shared for decades, described as being like mother and daughter.
Peltz’s new husband, Brooklyn Beckham, has even had Sampaio’s name tattooed on his arm as a tribute.
Sources close to the Peltzes said the allegations that Nicola, 27, was abusive to her nanny left her devastated and distraught for years, while her parents have been desperate to combat the claims of their draconian and high-handed treatment of their help. 
Nicola Peltz was left devastated by rumors that she had allegedly abused her longtime nanny Maria Rosalina ‘Gina’ Sampaio (pictured) who raised her since birth, sources told 
Sampaio began working for the billionaire Peltz family (pictured with Nicola’s mom Claudia Heffner left) as a maid in 1985 and retired in 2014. She died at aged 92 in January 2020 
The claims have appeared not only in gossip columns but also in New York courts.
Two former drivers for patriarch Nelson Peltz sued him and his company claiming they were wrongfully fired, one after taking one nurse-mandated day off for a diabetes-induced blood sugar spike, and the other after hospitalization for a head injury at work.
But in an interview with, Peltz butler Jose Vilarino said he had never seen poor treatment of staff during the 16 years he has worked for the family – and said he saw first hand how close Nicola was to Sampaio.
‘I was very surprised by these stories. But most of all, about Nicola pushing Gina down the stairs. It’s not true,’ the 63-year-old said.
The Brazilian nanny, whose real name was Maria Rosalina Sampaio, began working for the Peltzes in 1985, first as a maid, before looking after Nelson and Claudia Peltz’s second child, William, after his birth in 1986.
She retired in 2014 and died age 92 in 2020 – on Nicola’s 25th birthday.
‘The relationship, it was like she adopted them or they adopted her like they were family,’ said Gina’s nephew, Helio Nelo, 68. 
‘The relationship was amazing. Gina was like a mother to Nicola and she was like her daughter.
Nelo said the Peltzes became Sampaio’s second family when she moved to the US in 1985, after raising her nephew and his sister as her own.
‘She brought me and my sister to live with her. We took care of her. Gina was a wonderful person,’ he said in an exclusive interview from his home in Sao Paulo.
Nicola’s parents, billionaire businessman Nelson, and Claudia Peltz (pictured in 2011) have also been desperate to combat the claims of their draconian and high-handed treatment of their help
Sampaio’s family finally dispelled the rumors in an interview with, revealing Nicola and her nanny had a close, mother-daughter-like relationship. The actress is pictured in her youth with Sampaio
The doting nanny is said to have been so close with Nicola, she even gave her her engagement ring, and called her her daughter. The actress is seen spending time her nanny before her death in an undated social media photo
‘We were very sad to see her go to the United States, but she had just lost her husband and she decided to leave to come to the US. She started working for the Peltzes and they became her family.
‘Every time she went back to Brazil we would talk about it. She would say how happy she was working for the family. They treated her like their own family and she was very happy working for them.
‘Nicola came here a couple of times after Gina retired, in 2018 and 2019,’ he added. 
‘The love between them is something that you cannot explain, it’s like a spiritual thing.’
His 69-year-old sister, Elzi Nelo, said Nicola would take naps with her old nanny in the afternoons during her trip.
Vilarino said after Gina retired in 2014 the Peltzes would still send staff to fly with her on trips to visit them in the US.
‘Even after she retired she was here sometimes twice a year. The family sent her tickets, and I also went to Brazil to take her back because they didn’t want her to try to fly by herself,’ he said.
Two sources close to the Peltz family told that when Nicola wasn’t visiting, she regularly sent roses to Gina.
‘She painted roses a lot. She really loved roses. So when she retired and went back to Brazil, every week, Nicky would send her roses,’ one Peltz family friend said. 
‘On her birthday, Nicky would cover Gina’s whole apartment with roses.
The family’s longtime butler described the pair’s relationship as ‘amazing’ and said Sampaio was ‘like a mother to Nicola and she was like her daughter’
The Bates Motel actress has previously shared photos of her former nanny on social media as a tribute to the woman she had known all her life 
Sampaio died on Nicola’s 25th birthday, January 9, 2020, which has made celebrating birthdays difficult, insiders said. The 27-year-old previously shared a touching photo of the nanny feeding her as an infant captioned: ‘I miss you so much right now’ 
Sampaio loved roses and enjoyed painting them. Relatives said after she moved back to Brazil when she retired in 2014, Nicola would send her beloved nanny roses every week. Pictured: Nicola’s phone wallpaper (left) and a rose painting by Sampaio in Nicola’s room (right)
‘That’s why Brooklyn got a tattoo of Gina and then a rose underneath on his arm.
‘She says her biggest regret in life and the thing that makes her really sad, is that Brooklyn and Gina never got to meet.
‘They planned a trip to go see her. Brooklyn and Nicky started dating on October 29, 2019. They were going to go see Gina in February, and then she passed away, on Nicky’s birthday. Now she kind of doesn’t like her birthday.’
The source added: ‘Gina even gave Nicky her engagement ring, and called her her daughter. Everything Gina gave her, she has all over her room in LA.’
The rosy picture of the heiress Hollywood star and her doting nanny is very different to the claims in April 2009 stories published by site Gawker, that famously shut down after a successful lawsuit by Hulk Hogan, and picked up by New York Magazine and the Huffington Post.
The stories cited household staff who claimed Nicola’s mother Claudia once ‘summoned a butler to the master bathroom after she discovered drops of urine on the toilet seat’, made him clean it four times, then fired him – all on Easter Sunday.
They claimed Nicola, then aged around 14, ‘routinely threatens maids that she will have her father fire them if they don’t do as she asks’ and had her nanny ‘hauled out of the house by two beefy bodyguards after the girl decided she didn’t care much for her.’
A follow-up story on Gawker the next day said ‘people who worked inside the home in the past’ had revealed that ‘heaping abuse on the maids, nannies, and butlers has become something of a sport’ for Nicola.
The alleged mistreatment of staff occurred at the Peltz’s High Winds estate in Bedford, New York. 
The mansion has 27 rooms, a lake, waterfall, indoor hockey rink with a Zamboni machine and a flock of albino peacocks roaming the 130-acre grounds.
The allegations included reprimands by the house manager of one staff member after he was spotted on the home’s CCTV eating a bagel that was going to be thrown out. 
Nicola began dating now-husband Brooklyn Beckham in 2019, but Sampaio died before he could meet her. A family source said it’s the ‘biggest regret in life’ that the two did not get to meet
In a touching gesture, Beckham even got ‘Gina’ tattooed on his arm in a tribute to his wife’s nanny, on Nicola’s birthday last year 
Sampaio’s family said the Peltzes became her second family when she moved to the US in 1985 and that she would talk highly of them with her relatives back home 
In a poignant birthday post for her late nanny, Nicola lamented that Sampaio could not watch her get married to her new husband 
More recent stories about Nicola and her marriage to Beckham dug up the claims, while commenters on Reddit added further fuel to the fire.
‘Why doesn’t anyone ever talk about how Nicola… was so abusive to her childhood nannies that some were rumored to become suicidal while working for her?’ user ‘verranrio’ posted earlier this year.
‘There was also apparently at least one incident where she pushed a nanny down the stairs.’
Another source close to the Peltz family dismissed the claims.
‘All of it is just a lie. The children don’t have anything to do with hiring and firing people. They never have,’ the source said.
‘Nicola’s a pretty tough cookie. She can handle a lot. But this stabs her in the heart. She always went out of her way to protect Gina and love her, as they all did.’
Vilarino called the allegations a ‘lie’, and Helio described Nicola’s alleged ejection of her nanny as ‘fake news’.
Legal letters written by Peltz family lawyers to the Huffington Post and Gawker claim the source of the allegations was a home help recruiter they briefly used, who turned out to be a criminal and was accused by other rich families of threats.
In the letter, obtained by, attorney Martin Singer of Lavely & Singer wrote: ‘The source of the Gawker Articles is understood to be Adrian Barrie Smith, who was a recruiter of housekeeping staff for wealthy clients through his company, Domestic Job Picks, Inc.
‘Mr. Smith has a criminal record and was sentenced to prison in New York for stalking and aggravated harassment involving some of his former clients.
‘Mr. Smith has been a party in various reported lawsuits against his former clients, reported alleged shake-downs by him of his former clients, criminal convictions for harassing and stalking former clients, and has been identified as the source of numerous refuted tabloid stories about his former clients.
Sampaio moved back to her native Brazil after retiring as a nanny for the family, but relatives say Nicola traveled to visit her multiple times. Pictured: Sampaio with her nephew Ernani Carvalho and his wife Adriana 
Pictured above from left to right is Sampaio’s nephew, Helio Melo, niece Elza Melo, Elza’s daughter Camila Melo, and Elzinha Melo with Gina
‘In 2009, Mr. Smith expressly threatened the Peltz family that, unless he was paid money that the Peltz family believed was not owing to him, he would release or sell stories about the family to the media.
‘When the Peltz family refused to pay, our clients were informed that Mr. Smith shopped his stories to numerous different publications, which turned them down and refused to publish the false and defamatory fabrications. The stories were ultimately published by cityfile/ Gawker.’
In an interview with, Smith admitted he was the source of the scandalous 2009 stories and repeated his claims of the Peltzes’ poor treatment of staff, denying that he made the stories up.
Smith said that his dispute with the family was over his allegedly unpaid contract.
‘We only got paid when I went to the press,’ he said. ‘We had to sign some paperwork to say in acceptance of this check there’ll be no court case or publicity. But by that time I’d already spoken to the press.
‘I called the New York Times, the Daily News, the New York Post, everybody. I said you want a great story about the Peltzes?
‘Within four or five hours they were calling me saying will you please stop calling the press,’ he claimed. 
Smith’s clients have included Robert DeNiro, Mariah Carey, George Soros, Mort Zuckerman, Tommy Mottola, and Lou Reed.
In 2011 the Brit was convicted of aggravated harassment of Tania Higgins, a hedge fund manager’s wife who declined his services.
According to the criminal complaint, he told Higgins in a voicemail: ‘I will have a really great laugh when I see your house crumble. F*** yourself… I will have my revenge.’
He also launched civil lawsuits against Jerry Seinfeld, George Soros’ ex wife Susan, Mariah Carey and billionaire investor Ron Perelman for breach of contract and other claims.
The same year as the claims about the Peltz’s help surfaced, a former bodyguard and driver for the family sued Nelson and his company in the New York Supreme Court, saying he was hospitalized for several weeks from a serious head injury at work, and was fired as soon as he returned in violation of disability laws.
Legal letters obtained by show the Peltzes had tried to fight the abuse rumors circulating in the media and argued that the source of the allegations was the family’s old home help recruiter, who turned out to be a criminal and was accused by other rich families of threats

A 2011 summary judgment found in favor of Peltz’s firm, and Nelson himself was struck from the case.
In 2017, former chauffeur Juan Gonzalez also sued Nelson claiming he was fired after taking his first sick day in 19 months of employment, despite his nurse calling his manager to point out his blood sugar was four times the normal level.
‘I am this patient’s doctor and this patient has a very serious medical condition,’ nurse Romilda Canale told Peltz’s property manager Ken Schwebel according to the lawsuit.
‘He’s diabetic and his reading is over 300[mg/dl]. You cannot force this man to go to work. He cannot come back to work until July 5th. I’m telling you he’s sick.’
Schwebel allegedly responded: ‘Juan, if you don’t show up, then don’t come back, because you need to take the family out on a run.’
The case was dismissed in April 2020 after an agreement by both parties.
Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd
Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group


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