She has never even voted in an election here; doesn’t really know who Chris Sinckler is, and simply abhors being in the spotlight. Yet the Trinidadian financial consultant Karen-Ann Gardier that actually owns the home has found herself at the centre of a domestic political firestorm, with general elections around the corner.
Over the past month in particular, a distinctive photograph of her Rolling Hills, St George home has been circulating on social media, amid allegations that the property is valued at $2.5 million and belongs to the embattled Minister of Finance, much to the dismay of the reserved Trinidadian homeowner.
“It’s madness,” she told Barbados TODAY this morning, while expressing amazement that the unsubstantiated rumours were now even being discussed at the highest level in the country, with Prime Minister Freundel Stuart accusing the Opposition of starting the vicious cycle – a charge which the Barbados Labour Party has vehemently denied.
However, the homeowner, who can hardly tell Sinckler and the BLP’s Dale Marshall apart, explained that she has only been living here for the past nine years and that the photograph that has gone viral “is actually an old picture” of her home, “which means that somebody deliberately dug up an old picture of my house and decided to create gossip
with poor Mr Sinclair [Sinckler], whoever this may be”.
The former CLICO Trinidad finance director, who has been living here since 2009 but has no plans of voting in the next elections due here by the middle of next year, said: “I worked hard all of my life . . . and I got myself a house.
“And I never even imagined this house to be anything so big and beautiful. It was just a house that I asked my architect to design and he even managed the project and this is the house he built.
“I lived in Trinidad while it was being built, so really and truly there is no story here, absolutely none, other than somebody who worked hard, built a house and it came out cute.”
The financial consultant, who does not like being in the limelight and gently refused to share photographs of herself to accompany this story, also pointed out that the property, which was built nine years ago, “isn’t even in that great condition anymore”.
Still the old image of her home in pristine condition has gone viral and despite numerous efforts by the homeowner and her family members to have the image removed from social media, it keeps coming back up again and again, with her home also a major discussion point on at least one local gossip site.
“I went on there and I said, ‘This is my house people’, because people were posting negative comments about how they were coming to snoop and all of that and I was like, ‘well, what the hell?’
“I’m just some quiet lady, living quietly in the background of life and so I wrote on Naked Departure, ‘This is my house, please take it off of your website’. I don’t know if it has been taken off but that’s how this whole thing just went viral, which is the curse as well as the beauty of social media.”
Gardier made it clear that her home was not presently up for sale.
And while she does not know Sinckler personally, she feels the need to defend him from what she says is nothing short of a blatant lie.
“I mean why would people take it upon themselves to create a lie in order to create negative feelings about this Sinclair [Sinckler] person, because I see on Naked Departure, people are making negative comments, but why? You people voted him into power, so what is the complaint now?” she asked, adding that “when they vote someone else in they are going to be complaining again, so I just think it is a really sad state of affairs”.
Sinckler is yet to speak out in his own defence on the matter. However, the Prime Minister told a ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) meeting at The Alexandra School on Sunday night, the latest controversy was proof of a BLP smear campaign being waged against members of his Government, as he challenged the Opposition party to prove that Sinckler owns the home by taking the media to the site.
“Rolling Hills is not invisible. You don’t have to catch a plane to go to Rolling Hills. You can catch a bus and go there, you can drive there by car and some people in St George can walk there,” Stuart told DLP supporters.
“Name the day and the time when they will all meet at Rolling Hills, St George and when they will point Barbadians . . . and people from other parts of the Caribbean to that $2.5 million house that was built by the Minister of Finance. Stand up and tell journalists and tell people of the Caribbean ‘that is the house, and it was built by so-and-so, and it is owned by Chris Sinckler,’” he said, adding that he would drop national duties to be present at the given time.
The BLP has sought to distance itself from accusations, with Marshall, the Member of Parliament for St Joseph, assuring in a press release yesterday that the “post has nothing whatsoever to do with the BLP [and that] the circulation of such stories on social media is not, and has never been, a BLP strategy.
“The Prime Minister seems to forget that members of the BLP are also victims of such attacks and allegations. These anonymous posts which are intended to damage are in bad taste and a blight on public discourse. The BLP would never be a part of that,” Marshall said.
While stating that she had no clue who was behind the false allegations surrounding her home, the homeowner said she was simply anxious to have it all go away.
“I just want this stopped. It would be nice for this gossip to stop, because that is all it really amounts to – gossip,” she told Barbados TODAY, while stressing that “I don’t know anything about Chris Sinclair [Sinckler] and I am not a political person”.