The reclusive billionaires who built an empire from scratch
Published 30/09/2011 | 05:00
David and Frederick Barclay are reclusive self-made billionaires with an estimated €2bn fortune.
They own the Telegraph Media Group and Press Holdings that includes the Spectator Magazine.
Their empire also includes the British retailer Littlewoods, which they acquired with the purchase of Woolworths in 2009 when the company folded, and they have a substantial portfolio of properties.
The 77-year-old identical twins, who are tax exiles, live together in a mock-Gothic castle on Brecqhou, their own private island in the English Channel. David's son Aidan handles all of their business.
They started from humble beginnings, first working as painters and decorators as teenagers in west London in the 1930s.
They became property investors in the 1950s and '60s and first made money from converting boarding houses into hotels.
In the '80s they bought a shipping and brewing company for £45m and made a fortune when they later sold part of it for £240m and used the cash to buy the Ritz Hotel in 1995, which they still own.
The deal with NAMA comes after they swooped to buy a 28pc stake in three of London's other prestigious hotels -- Claridges, the Berkeley and the Connaught -- that are part of the debt-laden Maybourne group.