While there’s no denying Robert Maxwell was once a renowned publishing tycoon, everything shattered apart for him by the time he was in his late 60s as it came to light he was likely a fraudster. After all, not only was he often embroiled in public controversy, but his mysterious 1991 death actually came just prior to him being accused of misappropriating millions from his firm’s pension fund. So now, if you simply wish to learn more about him — with a specific focus on his background, his career trajectory, as well as his ultimate net worth — we’ve got the necessary details for you.
How Did Robert Maxwell Earn His Money?
Although Robert was born as one of seven into a poor Jewish family helmed by Hannah Slomowitz and Mechel Hoch in Ukraine on June 10, 1923, he sadly lost most of his loved ones in Auschwitz. The truth is he’d managed to escape Nazi occupation by finding a way to France years prior, but he didn’t want to hold back and thus joined the Czechoslovak Army in exile at the tender age of 17. This was essentially right at the beginning of World War II, meaning he was right at the center of all the action in Europe, including the Britain retreat, protests, Berlin service, among much more.
Robert (real name Ján Ludvík Binyamin Hoch) was reportedly decorated following his service in the Army, enabling him to use his contacts in the Allied occupation to step into the business industry. He hence actually became the UK and US distributor for Springer Verlag scientific books in the late 1940s before buying the majority of a minor publishing house called Butterworth-Springer in 1951. The entrepreneur subsequently changed the name of this organization to Pergamon Press, yet the most significant shift it experienced was its entry into the category of a major publishing house.
Robert did try to acquire a couple of tabloid newspapers in the 1960s to expand his scope, but it didn’t pan out in the way he had hoped owing to severe competition and his false public statements. In fact, he ended up losing control of Pergamon because of this as well, just to be booted off of its board in October 1969, that is, until 1974, when he regained it after borrowing some crucial funds. Though by this point, he’d already established the Maxwell Foundation in Liechtenstein (1970) as an independent entity to hold, control, as well as manage his family’s personal and professional assets.
It was then over a decade later that Robert purchased the British Printing Corporation (BPC) in 1981, only to rebrand it to Maxwell Communication Corporation (MCC) before eventually selling it off. However, his biggest acquisition would have to be Mirror Group Newspapers Publication in 1984, not just because it cost £113 million but also because it comprised six separate British papers. Then there was the launch of local tabloids, takeovers of research companies, purchase of further media businesses, and much more, including a step into the American publication market in the late 1980s.
The Oxford United Football Club chairman actually owned various enterprises by the time 1990 rolled around; he had the Mirror Group, Pergamon Press, Maxwell Directories, Nimbus Records, Berlitz language schools, Prentice Hall Information Services, and Macmillan Publishers. Plus, he possessed a half-share right of MTV in Europe along with other European television networks such as Cable TV as well as Maxwell Entertainment, only to soon realize he was in deep, deep debt. In fact, as per reports, in 1991, he was practically forced to sell off both Pergamon Press and Maxwell Directories before making 49% of Mirror Group’s stock public to cover his deficit obligations.
Robert Maxwell’s Net Worth at the Time of Death
Even though rumors of Robert being in debt had started swirling around in 1990, it wasn’t until he died from the combination of a heart attack and accidental drowning on November 5, 1991, that the extent of it came out. According to several records as well as Apple TV+’s ‘Tetris,’ the once-flamboyant member of parliament (Labour Party MP) was over $5 billion in debt, and he had allegedly embezzled close to $900 million from Mirror Group’s pension fund. Nevertheless, because his several successful companies provided a sort of cushion, it is estimated that his actual net worth at the time of his death was negative $1 billion.
Read More: What is Ghislaine Maxwell’s Net Worth?