How Britain's richest man is so secretive even his receptionist hasn't heard of ... trends now

How Britain's richest man is so secretive even his receptionist hasn't heard of ... trends now
How Britain's richest man is so secretive even his receptionist hasn't heard of ... trends now

How Britain's richest man is so secretive even his receptionist hasn't heard of ... trends now

Ask anyone if they know who Michael Platt is and they will probably reply: ‘Michael Who?’

In fact, he’s the richest person in Britain.

But unlike, say, petrochemicals tycoon and Manchester United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe (£13.1 billion) and inventor James Dyson (£10.8 billion), who occupy second and third place in the UK wealth league, Michael Platt has remained intriguingly under the radar.

Even the receptionist on the front desk of the glass-fronted skyscraper near Victoria Station, where the London headquarters of his hedge fund is based on the eighth floor, is blissfully unaware of him. His company, BlueCrest Capital Management, yes. But the boss himself, no.

The company website doesn’t even load and 56-year-old Platt doesn’t respond to emails.

Yet behind his relative anony­mity and meteoric rise from ­middle-class roots in Preston, Lancashire, is a colourful and, at times, controversial, storyline that culminated earlier this month in his inclusion (along with Ratcliffe and Dyson) in the top 200 of the Forbes’ annual list of the world’s most minted individuals, with a fortune estimated at £14.3 billion.

Publicity-shy hedge fund boss Michael Platt is actually the richest man in Britain

Publicity-shy hedge fund boss Michael Platt is actually the richest man in Britain

The multi-billionaire's New York apartment which boasts the best view in the Big Apple

The multi-billionaire's New York apartment which boasts the best view in the Big Apple

Michael Platt's superyacht which he put up for sale for £120 million

Michael Platt's superyacht which he put up for sale for £120 million

How much will £14.3 billion buy you? Answer: a Chelsea penthouse with views of the London Eye and the Shard (‘the most discreet and prestigious’ address in Chelsea, to quote estate agents); a 3,000 sq ft apartment, with three roof terraces and private elevator, overlooking Central Park in New York; a flat on the waterfront in St ­Helier, Jersey; homes in Swiss ski resort Verbier and Geneva; a 246 ft superyacht, a Bombardier ­Challenger jet; and a private ­modern art collection.

His parents, a proud and modest couple, were reluctant to accept any money from their son but former neighbours back in ­Preston told how he managed to persuade his mum, a keen golfer, to let him buy her a holiday lodge attached to a golf course near Leeds and, a few years ago, he got her tickets to the Masters in Augusta, Georgia.

Could the world Michael Platt grew-up in be further removed from the planet he now inhabits?

Unlike most hedge funds, which employ bold and innovative ­strategies to maximise profits for investors, BlueCrest has been turned into a personal investment vehicle for Platt, his senior partners and employees. There are no outside clients, in other words. ‘Essentially, we have one client, which is Mike,’ a former BlueCrest portfolio manager was quoted as saying recently. ‘He’s the CEO, he’s the CIO [chief information officer].’

Hence the reason the divorced father of two is as rich as Croesus. It may also help explain why publicity-shy Platt — his last round of interviews took place more than a decade ago to promote an art show he was sponsoring which featured, incidentally, a lifesize wax gorilla nailed to a wooden cross — has escaped the full-glare of the media spotlight.

There have been a few notable exceptions, the first a little embarrassing but inconsequential, the others more serious. In 2019, he was caught bragging about his wealth in the back of a New York yellow cab. The footage was recorded and went viral on Wall Street. When asked by the taxi driver what he did for a living, Platt, dressed in a jacket and white dress shirt and in the company of a young woman he introduces as his girlfriend ‘Laetitia — ‘the love of my life’ — replies: ‘I’m the highest-earning person in the world of finance.’

Platt, above,  also appeared on screen in HBO drama Billions, currently showing on Paramount+, about the world of high finance in New York, starring Damian Lewis

Platt, above,  also appeared on screen in HBO drama Billions, currently showing on Paramount+, about the world of high finance in New York, starring Damian Lewis

Platt's high-flying protegee Leda Braga, the most powerful female hedge fund ­manager in the world

Platt's high-flying protegee Leda Braga, the most powerful female hedge fund ­manager in the world

Platt is now a hedge fund boss worth £14.3bn. So how has he flown under the radar – in his Bombardier jet – for so long?

Platt is now a hedge fund boss worth £14.3bn. So how has he flown under the radar – in his Bombardier jet – for so long?

‘You’re the highest what?’ asks the cabbie. ‘I’m the highest-earning person in the world of finance,’ Platt repeats. ‘In the world.’

Ironic, really. When Platt and his BlueCrest co-founder William Reeves, a Yale graduate, were interviewed by the Times ahead of the company’s floatation in 2006, they refused to be photographed under any circumstances.

‘They guard their privacy fiercely and detest their regular appearances in newspaper rich lists,’ financial editor Patrick Hosking wrote. Platt insists the taxi video, which was picked up by the TV networks, was a joke following ‘a good bottle of wine with a friend’, and says he was only obliging cabbie Manny Anzalota, known as the unofficial ‘cabbie to the stars’, who posts impromptu interviews with his passengers on social media and who has kept in touch with the billionaire who ‘gave me the biggest tip of my life’.

Platt also appeared on screen in HBO drama Billions, currently showing on Paramount+, about the world of high finance in New York starring Damian Lewis. In fact, Platt played himself, with an American accent, in episode one of season three, when he tells ­fellow high-rollers, gathered around a table at an Italian ­restaurant, that the main character (Bobby Axelrod played by Lewis) should ‘do as he pleases’ with his cash ‘otherwise what is the f*****g point’.

It is a philosophy that Platt has adopted away from the camera but which has got him into a spot of bother with the regulators more recently. A year after the taxi ­bragging video made headlines, BlueCrest was ordered to pay $170 million (£137 million) by the U.S. Securities and Exchange ­Commission (SEC) to investors, one of the largest penalties imposed on a hedge fund by U.S. authorities.

The SEC investigation ­concluded that BlueCrest had ‘repeatedly failed to act’ in their best interests by ‘transferring its highest-­performing traders to a fund that benefited its own personnel to the detriment of its fund investors’.

The questionable tactics occurred more than a decade ago when BlueCrest was in the ­process of converting to a private investment partnership which no longer managed external money.

The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority made similar allegations, handing out a £40.8 million fine to BlueCrest in 2021 ‘for ­conflict of interest

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