PUFFING out his chest and strutting among celebrity guests as women watched on adoringly, Paul Hollywood was in his element.
Like a peacock displaying his plumage, the Great British Bake Off judge, 51, grinned as he worked the room with the swagger of a teenage pop idol.
Paul’s long-suffering wife Alexandra, 53, was nowhere to be seen at the charity event earlier this month.
While pictures of him kissing Bake Off winner Candice Brown, 32, goodbye after the bash were dismissed as “harmless”, it was yet another humiliating episode for his wife.
Alex, who has not been seen with Paul since last December, had already had enough.
Within days their 20-year marriage would be over as she no doubt tired of his fondness for younger female attention. Meanwhile, the shadow of that fling four years ago with his sexy US co-star Marcela Valladolid, 39, still hung over the union.
Now The Sun can reveal Britain’s most famous baker has been turfed out of the £1.45million mansion he bought with Alex just last year.
Paul, who has a son aged 16 with Alex, is now thought to be holed up nearby in the same rented pad he escaped to after confessing to his affair with Marcela.
While he licks his wounds, divorce lawyers lick their lips at the prospect of a bitter battle over his £12million fortune.
A source revealed: “In the last few months, Alex had completely given up on their relationship.
“The trust was totally gone. She just didn’t want to make it work any more. She feels fame has changed him. He’s not the same man she fell for all those years ago.
“He used to joke about just being a simple baker when he first became well-known, but these days that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“He’s a huge star, and he knows it. He’s had all the success he could ever have dreamed of, but she fears it has gone to his head.”
The insider added: “Alex told him things were finished and asked him to leave the family home.
“They have both tried to make things work, but too much damage has been done and things have never really recovered.
“His affair hit them hard, and there have been other rumours about his wandering eye which have left her feeling humiliated. She just says enough is enough.”
Paul jumped into bed with Marcela, 12 years his junior, after the pair launched a doomed US version of Bake Off in 2013.
The affair — which he later declared the “biggest mistake of my life” — saw him booted out of the family home.
Alex eventually agreed to give him a second chance. But those close to Paul suspect he only went back after Marcela effectively dumped him.
The source added: “Paul was totally into Marcela and threw himself in with both feet.
“Perhaps he really believed he was going to start a new life with her.
When it all fell apart he went back with his tail between his legs.”
Marcela's family this week insisted she was “better off” without Paul.
Her aunt Marcela Rodriguez said: “She’s got a son and another baby. She is in love with her partner.”
Paul has also been linked to voluptuous cake maker Molly Robbins, 25.
She is the daughter of actor Ted Robbins, a close friend of Paul. They met in 2014 at the BBC’s Good Food Show and last year were spotted checking into the same Belfast hotel.
A spokesman for the star insisted nothing was going on and that the pair had met once socially and a handful of times professionally.
Touring the country at lucrative food shows and festivals, Paul sees himself as a baking rock star.
And in a further sign of his growing ego, he recently compared himself to Simon Cowell, 58, who has built a global entertainment business over 25 years. Paul suggested he is a “stronger” person than the music supremo.
He said: “People compare me to Simon Cowell. I’ve seen Simon, and he said ‘they say you’re like me’.
“But I think Simon’s gone soft. I’m much stronger than him.
“Simon bends to the will of the people, and he’s become more about the personalities now than the actual quality of the voice. Mine’s all about the quality of the baking, not the personality.”
On stage at the Good Food Show last year Paul played to a packed crowd of excitable — and almost exclusively female — fans. Playing up to his reputation, he tore strips off a freshly-baked loaf before hurling pieces to the swooning crowd.
Women were quite literally eating from the palm of his hand.
But Paul’s charms failed to win over 2013 Bake Off contestant Ruby Tandoh.
He appeared to flirt with the 25-year-old, who later came out as a lesbian.
Ruby blasted Paul’s decision to join judge Prue Leith and hosts Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding, above, on Channel 4, describing him as a “peacocking manchild lingering wherever the money is”.
Alex, who has written two of her own cookbooks, is understood to be preparing for a divorce battle which could see her entitled to half of Paul’s wealth.
However, half of what remains to be seen. As well as owning their mansion home in Kent, he runs several companies.
HJP Media, PJH Media and Paul Hollywood Limited have assets of £10million. Alex is a director of the latter two.
A source said: “Paul has worked hard to build up a very successful business alongside his TV work. He hasn’t always had money so you can imagine he will fight to keep as much as he can.”