American private equity mogul John Grayken renounced his American citizenship in 1999 for tax purposes and became an Irish citizen. He is the founder and sole owner of Dallas-based Lone Star Funds, which has raised 67bn to buy up assets since he set it up in 1995. The secretive Grayken's strategy is to buy distressed property assets in countries experiencing economic turmoil, clean them up and flip the assets for a huge profit. He made a fortune in Japan and south east Asia during the late 1990s and turned his attention to Ireland during the financial crisis. Lone Star was among the biggest buyers of loans and assets sold off by the Irish banks and Nama following the financial crisis.
According to a damning Forbes profile published last year, Grayken rules his empire with an iron fist, with the German press calling Lone Star “the Executioner from Texas” after the firm bought non-performing loans that resulted in homeowner foreclosure proceedings. Forbes dubbed him one of “the robber barons of the new millennium” for his long track record of profiting from delinquent mortgages and other battered financial assets.
Grayken runs his empire from the UK, where he owns a mansion in Chelsea, purchased for 66m through a Bermuda company, making it the most expensive house in the UK. He also owns Pyford Court, the sprawling Edwardian stately home in Surrey where classic horror chiller The Omen was filmed in 1976.
The father of four is also said to own a 100m waterside mansion on Lake Geneva, a super-yacht in the Caribbean called the Virginian, and a private island in Cohasset, off the South Shore in Massachusetts, where he grew up. Grayken also splashed out 35m last summer on a 13,000-sq ft penthouse at the top of the new Millennium Tower Boston, a record for a condo in the city.