The Elite Daniel Bingham
Updated: Aug 10, 2020
The young elite 1-10
They may have lost their seats in the House of Lords but there is no sign that the aristocracy will be so careless when it comes to its land and art treasures. The Observer uncovers the aristos set to inherit £4.6bn
special report: the young rich Edited by Tom O’Sullivan The Observer, Sunday 12 March 2000
Their combined £4.6bn fortune could buy enough Eurofighters to retake the House of Lords by force. But as most of them seem to have little interest in fighting for their family’s place in the political system they are more likely to take the option of spending the money in other ways. There are those like Nathaniel Rothschild who is investing in new media and building a new branch of the family empire originally founded on banking. At the other extreme is Dan Macmillan – the great-grandson of the former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan – a man who seems devoted to having a party.
The list also reveals the wealthiest teenager in the UK – Luke Portman who, at 16, stands in line to inherit £850m, including a 100-acre chunk of central London.
The Observer’s list of the 30 richest heirs aged 16 to 30 has been trawled from an analysis of the top 100 inherited aristocratic fortunes in the UK. These valuations are based on the ownership of land and art treasures. On those occasions where we have evidence of money held in trusts, we have included it in the valuation.
But the nature – and purpose – of the trusts means that they are kept from public scrutiny. Using the recently published Inland Revenue Valuation Office Property Market Report it has been possible to make a more accurate assessment of the value of the land owned by these people. In some cases, this has lead to changes in valuations since last year.
Sources include, Inland Revenue Valuation Office Property Market Report autumn 1999, Great Landowners of Great Britain by Bateman, Vacher’s Parliamentary Guide, The Treasure Houses of Great Britain, London Residential Research Ltd and Debrett’s Peerage and Baronetage 2000.
1 Hon Luke Oliver Berkeley Portman, 16
Head of family: Viscount Portman Will inherit £850 million
Luke Portman has now turned 16, and assumes his position at the head of our list. The Portmans, through their trust, Portman Settled Estates, own about 100 acres of land north of London’s Oxford Street. Based on the latest research, by London Residential Research Ltd, the value of each square foot of this holding (at £400 per square foot it runs to 4.3m sq ft) is £1.7bn. Because of the mix of leases and tenancies, which make up the estate, local estate agents suggest we take 50 per cent off the valuation to arrive at a figure of £850m. Luke Portman’s father became head of the family after the death in May of his grandfather at his Caribbean hideaway on Antigua. It is likely that he too will become the main beneficiary of the estate at an early age since his father (Viscount Portman) inherited at the age of 11 for tax reasons.
2 Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales, 18
Head of family: HRH The Queen Will inherit up to £700 million
It is not just the hopes of the Royal Family resting on the shoulders of Prince William. There are several tabloid editors hoping that he will become as a big a circulation boost as his mother used to be. Tales of wild parties, friends linked to drugs and possible liaisons with everyone from Britney Spears to a string of debutantes, have kept the media happy.
In financial terms, come the day he inherits, Prince William will receive the Duchy of Cornwall – a huge estate of 147,000 acres, mostly in the west of England. It produces an annual income of about £6m for his father and is valued at £290m by the estate trustees. But the more accurate Inland Revenue Valuation Office figures for land in those counties, plus 30 or so acres in London, yields a figure closer to £700m.
He also inherits many millions from Princess Diana, as well as being likely to inherit from his grandmother and his great-grandmother. Highgrove, Prince Charles’s country house and estate, will also go to his eldest son, although the organic farming activities probably won’t add much in terms of cash income. The experience of his father suggests that the son could have a long wait.
3 Hon Nathaniel Philip Victor Rothschild, 29
Head of family: Lord Rothschild Will inherit £500 million
Described by his PR man as a ‘shrinking violet’, Rothschild junior is the place where old money meets new media. The eldest son of Lord Rothschild has inherited the family’s financial acumen and has been made responsible for the family’s increasing investment in everything ‘net’.
Along with the land and art trappings of most aristocrats, the Rothschilds are adding the internet and e-commerce to their empire. In the past four months the Rothschild family has bought an undisclosed stake in New Media Investors, a venture capital company which has pumped money into new media start-ups including lastminute.com.
When New Media Investors floated on the Alternative Investment Market in November – after the Rothschilds had bought their stake – the company was valued at £88m. There have been further investments: £3m into the natural health website Clickmango (in conjunction with another venture capitalist); and, with Lord Weinstock, £10m was poured into Star Technology. These investments have propelled Nathaniel Rothschild on to the boards of both New Media Investors and Star Technology to protect his family’s interest. The link with New Media Investors came via a mutual friend – at a point when the company was expanding. ‘He brings a wealth of contacts,’ says a spokesman for NMI, who adds that the Rothschilds definitely ‘intend to increase their exposure in this area’.
But this is where he displayed his shrinking violet tendencies by declining to discuss the family’s e-business interests with The Observer. After schooling at Eton and a history degree at Wadham College – where he was fined £20 for driving a car without an MOT – he joined fund manager Lazard’s, then went to work at Gleacher, the corporate finance firm now owned by NatWest. He currently occupies a variety of positions – and holds a 50 per cent stake – in NR Atticus, Atticus Management and Atticus Capital, a hedge fund, which controls funds approaching £312m.
During his period in the City he found the time to meet and secretly marry Annabelle Neilson in Las Vegas in a rare show of impetuousness which ended in divorce. His father now describes him as ‘an eligible bachelor’. But not a ‘shrinking violet’.
The Rothschild inheritance is difficult to quantify – not just because of the value of their internet interests. Nathaniel Rothschild will have to share his father’s enormous wealth with his three older sisters. However his direct inheritance will include art, land, family companies and institutions plus his father’s stake in Rothschild Continuation, the Swiss-based holding company for the Rothschild interests which has stakes in many of the family enterprises, including the bank NM Rothschild.
His father has further stakes in three quoted companies: RIT Capital Partners, Value Realisation Trust and St James Place Capital. But behind this wealth there is the actual Rothschild family fortune hidden in a series of trusts in Switzerland and rumoured to be worth £40bn. This will prove to be a conservative valuation of what Nathaniel Rothschild inherits, especially if some of the family’s new media investments start to pay off.
4 Hon William Guy Vestey, 17
Head of family: Lord Vestey Will inherit £340 million
It was once said of the Vesteys that they lived ‘not on the interest built up by their estate but on the interest of the interest’. In those terms life has come unstuck for the family since the collapse of the Vestey empire and the liquidation of the Dewhurst butchers’ chain in 1995. But don’t shed too many tears – the Vesteys were still left with an estimated £650m, at least half of which belongs to the father of William Guy Vestey. Additionally, they own the 5,000 acres of Stowell Park in Gloucestershire, which, at £3,000 per acre, is valued at £15m.
In stark contrast to Vestey (who was Page of Honour to the Queen from 1995 to 1998 – which means he stood around and looked pretty), Mark Brown, his anarchist cousin, and the grandson of Sir Derek Vestey, was charged with masterminding the anti-capitalism march that turned violent in the City of London on June 18 last year.
5 Earl Compton, 27
Head of family: Marquess of Northampton Will inherit £200 million
Daniel Bingham, as he is known, has had more stepmothers than most, his father having married five times so far. But that will have little effect on his inheritance.
Of more significance could be a legal judgment over ownership of the Sevso hoard of ancient Roman silver which is valued at £40m. When the collection was put up for sale in New York in 1990 the authorities impounded it, and while the family won the legal battle over ownership, buyers have been discouraged as they might be hit later with a further legal challenge.
The family owns 5,000 acres of Surrey, plus 25,000 acres in the Midlands, giving a total wealth of £100m in land alone. Aside from the Sevso hoard, Bingham’s family has art treasures in both his stately homes, conservatively valued at £100m. But the huge legal costs in establishing ownership of the Sevso treasure – the Hungarian, Lebanese and Yugoslavian governments were among those contesting ownership – and the question over any future sale have lead us to reduce his valuation to £200m.
6 Hon Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 30
Head of family: Marquess of Salisbury Will inherit £200 million
The Cecil family (pronounced like ‘thistle’, not ‘vessel’) has been a venerable Tory institution for centuries – during Queen Victoria’s reign, one ancestor was three times a prime minister. Last year Robert Gascoyne-Cecil’s father – Viscount Cranbourne, one of the more dynamic parents in this list – was sacked as Tory leader in the House of Lords after going over William Hague’s head and negotiating the abolition of the hereditary peers directly with Tony Blair. Cranbourne is also a member of a group of Premier Oil shareholders attempting to oust the current management team due to Premier’s floundering share price. Their proposals acknowledge the ethical issue of Premier’s business in Burma but they propose to sell off the Burmese assets (as well as interests in Pakistan and Indonesia) for financial reasons and because they fear retribution if the Burmese regime falls.
The family fortune consists of 3,000 acres in Dorset valued at £9m, 10,000 acres in Hertfordshire worth a further £28.6m plus an unknown quantity of land in London. Some of the Hertfordshire land is development land, worth, according to the Inland Revenue, £850,000 per acre. Treasures going back to Elizabethan times at Hatfield House, the family home, are valued at £100m and there are investments in various trusts. Cranbourne retains his seat in the House of Lords under the life peerage of Lord Gascoyne-Cecil.
7 Viscount Macmillan, 26
Head of family: Earl of Stockton Will inherit £200 million
Dan Macmillan is the great-grandson of former Tory prime minister Harold Macmillan but is perhaps better known as Jade Jagger’s intermittent boyfriend of two years. She last split up with him on New Year’s Eve, citing his incessant nocturnal partying, which, for a Jagger to find excessive, must have been truly heroic.
He has had a stab at modelling, acting, art and fashion design, establishing a clothing label, and is now pursuing an interest in photography. But he will not be following his father Alexander Stockton into the family publishing business. Stockton was quietly removed from the chairmanship in 1990 and is currently president – the family sold its majority stake (71 per cent) to German publisher Holtzbrinck back in 1995.
Dan Macmillan grew up at Birch Grove, the family home in Sussex (house guests have included John F Kennedy and de Gaulle, but not in the younger Macmillan’s memory). Rather, his global social life now revolves around Ibiza and Notting Hill. The family fortune comes in the form of cash from the remaining stake in the Macmillan Group plus a small estate in Devon and property in London.
8 Viscount Lymington, 19
Head of family: Earl of Portsmouth Will inherit £190 million
Oliver Wallop’s father is better known as one of those who bankrolled Neil Hamilton’s failed libel action against Mohamed Al Fayed last December. In a move which suggests he enjoys giving away money to lawyers, Wallop senior also previously supported Count Nikolai Tolstoy’s failed legal action in the Eighties.
But it will be comforting to his son Oliver Henry Rufus, whose mother is the author Candia McWilliam, that there is plenty of money where the Hamilton and Tolstoy funds came from. The Earl is now married to Annabel Fergusson. The 19-year-old Wallop stands to inherit the family mansion and 3,000 acres near Basingstoke, as well as a stake in the Grainger Trust, his father’s property company, and some very valuable art treasures. Based on his previous sales for development, we calculate that five per cent of the estate has development potential, fetching £143m, while the remaining 2,850 acres are worth £8m. The family stake in the Grainger Trust is valued at £12m, while their art treasures are valued in excess of £30m.
9 Hon Jesse David Suenson-Taylor, 23
Head of family: Lord Grantchester Will inherit £176 million
Suenson-Taylor’s father is the third Lord Grantchester, a rare Labour peer who describes himself as a dairy farmer in Crewe, Cheshire, and is also chairman of a small milk producer, the South West Cheshire Dairy Association. His grandmother, the dowager Lady Grantchester, steered the Littlewoods organisation back on to an even keel after turbulence in the late Eighties and early Nineties.
Suenson-Taylor, who maintains a low profile, will inherit an 11 per cent share of the £1.6bn Littlewoods fortune – the basis for this year’s valuation. His inheritance has not shrunk by £64m since last year; we have just cleared up confusion over his stake in the Littlewoods family pot.
10 Hon William Boscawen, 21
Head of family: Viscount Falmouth Will inherit £150 million
The history of the Boscawens goes back to 1264 and reaches the present via a string of beheadings and rebellions. Now the family are the largest landowners in Cornwall with an estate almost twice the size of Prince Charles’s Cornish holdings, with 40,000 acres worth £117m. If just one per cent of the estate is development land (fetching £175,000 in the region), the value shoots up by a further £70m – and the head of the family is well known for the number of planning applications he submits. There is also an estate in Kent. Grandfather, father and son are Etonians and live on, and manage, the estate. The Boscawens still appoint priests of the Church of England in five parishes around the family mansion near Truro.