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Whenever, Wherever: The Secrets of Shakira and Gerard Piqué's Private Love Story

How the Colombian singer and Spanish soccer player met cute and created one of the most enduring celebrity partnerships

By Natalie Finn Jan 29, 2020 12:00 PMTags
Gerard Pique, ShakiraRobert Marquardt/Getty Images

Shakira doesn't want to marry Gerard Piqué.

Which is not to say that she doesn't want to spend the rest of her life with him.

"To tell you the truth, marriage scares the sh-t out of me," the Colombian singer, who is co-headlining the Pepsi Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show with Jennifer Lopez this Sunday, said on 60 Minutes recently, with Piqué sitting next to her. "I don't want him to see me as 'the wife.' I want him to see me as his girlfriend. Lover, his girlfriend, a little forbidden fruit, you know? I want to keep him on his toes. I want him to think that anything's possible, depending on behavior."

It would be understandable if Shakira is a little reluctant to put a label on her relationship that needs paperwork.

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Her previous boyfriend, Antonio de la Rua, sued her for $250 million, and then again for $100 million, alleging that he had successfully managed her for a decade and when she unceremoniously cut their business ties it cost him financially.

Months later, in August 2013, De la Rua's lawsuits and an attempt to freeze her assets were dismissed, with judges in different countries citing jurisdictional issues and a "prenuptial-type agreement applicable to unmarried couples" the two had signed in 2006.

"I have moved on in my life and could not be happier now," Shakira said at the time. "I hope this harassment will now come to an end."

She had indeed moved on in life—personally, professionally and geographically.

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By then, Shakira (full name Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll) was mom to son Milan with Spanish soccer player Gerard Piqué. And while falling in love was a leap of faith, believing in him has never been an issue.

"I thought, 'he's still a boy, but what can I do," Shakira—who shares a birthday (Super Bowl Sunday this year, incidentally) with Piqué and is exactly 10 years older than him—sings in her 2017 song "Me Enamoré" (translation, basically, "I fell in love"). She also notes in the song: "I like that beard" and "with you I'd have 10 children, let's start with two children."

"I saw him alone, and I dove in," she sings. "I fell in love, I'm in love."

She and Piqué met in the spring of 2010 after he was one of the players who appeared in the video for "Waka Waka (This Time for South Africa)," the official song for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which was shot in Madrid.

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"I wasn't a soccer fan, so I didn't know who he was," Shakira recalled on 60 Minutes. "When I saw the video, I was like, 'Hmm, that one's kind of cute.'" She laughed. "And then someone decided to introduce us."

Spain went on to win the World Cup that summer and, following Piqué's retirement from the national team after the 2018 World Cup, Shakira recalled that victorious July 2010 day: ""Love, you have just finished a stage that we will always keep in our hearts. One of the happiest moments of my life was also seeing you win in 2010 with the team and celebrate Spain the champions!"

Shakira and de la Rúa split up that August.

Anyway...

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Not that things immediately got steamy between her and Piqué in Madrid. Rather, they barely talked until they were both in South Africa and, even then, they started out chatting about the weather, like so much elevator conversation.

"It all started when we were together in South Africa and I wrote to her," Piqué recalled to Spain's TV3 in 2016. "She was already there because she sang in the opening ceremony and I asked her what the weather was like.

"It's the typical stupid question, and the normal answer is to tell me to bring a jacket [June and July are winter in South Africa]," he quipped. "But she started telling me what the weather was, like, every minute and it got to the point where I told her we [Spain] would have to get to the World Cup final to see her again—she was singing at the final."

While matches went on in different cities during the month-long tournament, both the opening ceremony and the final match took place in Johannesburg. It was chilly, about 57 degrees Fahrenheit, that night.

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The next month, Shakira and de la Rúa quietly broke up, though they didn't confirm it until January 2011 when they released a statement clarifying that they had separated romantically but not professionally.

"During our almost 11 years together we have loved each other deeply, taken care of each other and stood by one another," they said in a joint message. "They have been the most wonderful years of our lives, and thanks to that love and the respect that we share for one another we have been an exceptional couple and partners. However, since August 2010, we made a mutual decision to take time apart from our romantic relationship. Throughout this time we have continued to work together hand in hand, have remained close and have kept the details absolutely private until now."

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"We're just friends," Piqué told reporters days later, when asked if he had any thoughts on Shakira's split. "There's nothing more to it. I don't know anything about the breakup. You [reporters] have just told me about it. We're just friends and that's that."

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Spanish tabloids were already hot on their trail, reporting on all sorts of rumored trysts, resulting in more denials that they were dating.

"You shouldn't pay attention to Waka-rumors," Shakira, who had been renting a home on and off in Barcelona since shooting her 2010 "Loca" video there, cracked at a press conference back in December 2010 at the Dalí museum in nearby Figueres. (Many of her and Piqué's comments have been translated from their original Spanish.)

Meanwhile, in November 2010, Shakira told Britain's Independent that she was trying to learn Catalan, the language of the Catalonian capital of Barcelona (also Piqué's hometown). "I bought a little Catalan book to practice but I can only speak Catalan in Barcelona," she said, "so I don't know if it makes much sense! But I like things that don't make sense but expand my brain."

On Feb. 2, Piqué posted a photo that showed Shakira had been part of the group celebrating his 24th birthday. Then, later that month, they were spotted holding hands while leaving a restaurant in Barcelona together—and they didn't look too unhappy about being seen. A couple days later they were photographed at the airport, on their way out of the city via private jet. 

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They finally declared themselves on Instagram at the end of March 2011.

"Les presento a mi sol," Shakira captioned a photo of them. Translation: "I present to you my sunshine."

And they've been together ever since, welcoming Milan in January 2013 and son Sasha in January 2015. Shakira and Piqué both come from tight-knit families and prioritize their kids, who are being raised speaking Spanish and English, above all else.

"Becoming a mom forced me to re-prioritize and make room for the things that are most important," Shakira told Parents in 2016, "while recognizing that there are things I can let go of and the world won't crumble around me."

Their lives are an international whirlwind at times, but Shakira has long thought that having such dedicated parents who each have separate careers is a great example for her two boys.

"Growing up with a working mom is a start," she said. "I also think their dad is a good example of a modern man to emulate. Gerard and I pretty much share all parenting responsibilities, although I'm definitely the disciplinarian."

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When Milan was first born, Shakira gushed to Us Weekly about how hands-on Piqué was, saying, "Thank God the father is very involved. He has been amazing. The baby spends as much time with me as he does with his dad. He's the kind of dad who's full hands on.

"He changes diapers, he bathes him, he enjoys playing with the baby, he enjoys feeding him, all of that stuff. So that's great help for me, you know. I can't imagine doing all of this and not having the father do his part of the job. So that's a huge help to me."

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Through it all, Piqué has continued to play for Barcelona, where he's been since 2008, an impressive run with one club after playing four years with Manchester United. 

"I never planned for anything else," he told reporters in 2018 after signing a contract extension that will keep him with his hometown team until June 2022, when he's 35. "This has always been my home. Every season we've won at least one title. That's the best thing about my time here, the fact that we've always competed for trophies until the very end.

"I hope that it stays the same until I retire. It was Barca or nothing. I don't want to be anywhere else that isn't here. I am not motivated to play for another club. I play football to play for Barca. If I was at another team, I would have retired from football."

Shakira being a world-famous singer and Piqué being a star athlete in his country's most beloved sport, they've certainly weathered their share of split rumors, but ultimately end up thumbing their nose at them every time—they're quite private as far as the specifics of their relationship, but a well-timed social media post usually does the trick.

And if it's not one kind of rumor, it's another—namely, does the fact that Shakira occasionally refer to Piqué as her husband finally mean something this time?!

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The most recent foray into spousal terms was just a week ago on Instagram, when she posted a video with trainer Anna Kaiser.

"Well, 'the Kaiser' doesn't let me turn on my phone until I finish with my workout and spend the whole morning with my kids," Shakira said, to which Anna added, "Yes, 'cause it's time for you!" Shakira smiled and said, "Yeah, and my husband can't find me."

Kaiser even commented on the post, "I love thinking of the hunky husband searching for you."

Yet going by Shakira's previously comments about marriage, it's merely a go-to term of endearment. She faced the same sorts of questions while she was still with de la Rúa, and she stated her actual goals (no pun intended) very clearly.

"I think I felt trapped in a golden cage for many years," Shakira told USA Today in 2009 while promoting her album She Wolf. "The culture, the education, the upbringing, what society expects from you...Over the past year, I've been asking myself the question, 'What does Shakira really want? What are her desires and how do I fulfill them?'"

And she was figuring it out.

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"I want to reproduce," said the singer and activist, whose Barefoot Foundation helps fund schools in Colombia. "I'm semi-married. I used to believe I had to be married to have kids...The culture kind of gives us tunnel vision. But we function as a married couple; we don't need papers for that."

After being with Piqué for a few years, in 2014 she said that she still didn't think marriage was "a necessary step in a couple's life."

"We already have what's essential, you know?" she told Glam Belleza Latina. "We have a union, a love for each other, and a baby. I think that those aspects of our relationship are already established, and marriage is not going to change them. But if I'm ever going to get married, he's the one." (In that vein, she has referred to herself and Piqué as being "sort of married.")

In the course of the legal wrangling down the road, it came out that she and de la Rúa had signed a prenuptial-type agreement for unmarried couples that, according to Shakira's attorneys when they successfully moved to have de la Rúa's lawsuits dismissed, "expressly manifested their wish to conserve, each separately, the totality of their past, current and future assets."

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It wouldn't be far-fetched to guess that she and Piqué have some sort of paperwork in place, considering they have children and are both independently wealthy. Shakira, who has made multiple Forbes Most Powerful Women lists, has sold more than 60 million albums worldwide and when you combine touring, real estate and endorsement deals such as Dannon yogurt or a line of toys for Fisher-Price, her rumored net worth is between $220 million and $300 million.

Piqué ranked No. 20 on Forbes' 2019 list of the world's highest-paid soccer players, with a salary of $17.7 million and $4 million in endorsements, his biggest sponsor being Nike. His Barcelona extension came with a buyout clause of $600 million and off the pitch he's president of the investment firm Kosmos.

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Countless celebrities can attest to the dangers of so many people knowing just how well-off they are, however, and in 2018 there was a break-in at their family's ocean-view home in Esplugues de Llobregat, five miles outside Barcelona.

Piqué was playing in Germany and Shakira was off on tour, but ESPN reported that the athlete was heard telling Spain's King Felipe VI—when the monarch asked Piqué for an update during a meet-and-greet with the national team—that his parents were at the house that night. Luckily no one was hurt, but the thieves, who broke in on a stormy night that helped mask the noise, made off with watches and jewelry.

Also in the more money, more problems department: fortunes tend to get audited, and Shakira is facing tax evasion charges in Spain, joining a club that includes soccer studs Cristiano Ronaldo (he pleaded guilty and agreed to a suspended sentence and a $21 million fine) and Piqué's Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi (found guilty and given a suspended sentence that was reduced to a fine).

Prosecutors allege that Shakira failed to pay taxes on more than $16 million in earnings between 2012 and 2014 while citing her residence as being in the Bahamas but actually living in Barcelona with her family. She officially changed her residence to Spain in 2015.

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A source told E! News that the "Hips Don't Lie" artist was fully in compliance with the tax laws of her new home and that she became a citizen after she "spent more than 183 days in Spain in a fiscal year." The insider added, "She took the initiative to declare herself a tax resident in Spain and pay taxes in this country."

At a court appearance last June, she denied any wrongdoing.

2017 Guardian report on the Paradise Papers, a leaked cache of documents that divulged where numerous celebrities choose to keep their money in order to pay the least taxes, noted that Shakira was listed as a resident of the Bahamas though she lived in Barcelona. Her lawyer said that, as an international star, she lived in many places "and, in every case, has fully met the laws of all the jurisdictions where she has resided."

The couple also know, meanwhile, that money doesn't guarantee you your health.

Shakira suffered a vocal hemorrhage in 2017, and having to postpone her tour and not even speak, let alone sing, took its toll.

"I always thought there were going to be things in my life that would go away, like beauty, youth, all of that stuff," she recalled that trying time to The Guardian in November. "But I never thought that my voice would leave me, because it's so inherent to my nature. It was my identity. So when I couldn't sing, that was unbearable. There were times I couldn't even get out of bed–I was so depressed."

As for Piqué, "He jokes that you would think you would want your wife to shut up–but when I had to remain quiet, he felt like one of those ex-convicts who are given their freedom and don't know what to do with it," she shared. "I was not positive. I was so pessimistic. I was a bitter person to be around. Gerard saw the worst of me."

He was there for her, though, and eventually her vocal cords healed without surgical intervention.

In November 2018, the couple went truffle hunting, showing off some oh-so-valuable white truffles on Instagram, and then spent that New Year's on a snowy holiday with their kids.

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Asked how she and Piqué handled two kids, their relationship and their respectively demanding schedules, which even when they're not at work require entire lifestyle regimens, Shakira told Hello! in 2017, "We try to do the best we can. There's a lot of love, that's the foundation of any family. You have to take care of it and dedicate time. Family is the most important thing for me. The rest is secondary."

They're trying to make life seem as normal as possible for Milan and Sasha, though Shakira admits that their lives aren't particularly normal.

"At least, we are normal people but our lives are very unnatural in a way," she told The Guardian in November. "We try to hide all the unnatural things and pretend we're a regular family. I don't want to overload them with every single detail of my career, or every victory. I'm more interested in them learning about the obstacles, my difficulties and their dad's. They weren't born when I was back in Colombia and every single door was shut in my face. Those are the stories I want to tell them because life isn't always easy. Not everything happens as you planned."

At least after almost a decade together, that original fire still burns, no matter the weather.

When she played "Me Enamoré" for Piqué, Shakira recalled to ET Canada, beaming from ear to ear, "he looks at me with those eyes, like awww...really appreciating the fact that I, almost, paid an homage to that moment in our lives when we met each other—that turning point in our lives where everything changed."

The family spent Christmas in Miami ahead of the conveniently located Super Bowl, taking place this year at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.

Shakira and Pique were spotted watching Sasha and Milan's soccer practice last month, the couple wearing T-shirts in the balmy Florida-winter weather.

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