Charles Sobhraj is a half-Indian, half-Vietnamese French thief, con artist, and serial killer. Although he mostly preyed on Western tourists along the Hippie Trail of Southeast Asia during the mid-1970s, often stealing their identities along with their valuables, his crime spree had started much earlier. With the monikers of “The Bikini Killer,” “The Splitting Killer,” and “The Serpent,” the deceptively charming man is the inspiration behind Netflix’s ‘The Serpent.’ So now, with the eight-part series putting a lot of focus on his greed and actions, let’s find out more about Charles’ work and current net worth, shall we?
How Did Charles Sobhraj Earn His Money?
Born in Saigon, Vietnam, Charles Sobhraj spent most of his formative years dividing his time between French Indochina and France with his parents’ respective families. However, as a teenager, owing to his increasing discomfort with both sides and realizing that he didn’t fit in anywhere, he began to commit petty crimes. At first, Charles only stole from people he knew and local grocery shops, but that slowly turned into more significant thefts, leading to his first jail sentence in 1963.
From there, Charles showed that he had a knack for psychology as well. After all, he managed to manipulate correctional officials into granting him special favors, including being allowed to keep books in his cell. Thus, after being paroled, Charles began accumulating his fortune through a series of burglaries and scams. He kept up this process until well after relocating to India, where, in 1973, he was arrested for attempting to rob a jewelry store at Hotel Ashoka in New Delhi.
Charles subsequently escaped from prison twice and spent nearly three years on the run, using as many as ten stolen passports. During this time, not only was Charles joined by his half-brother to commit a myriad of offenses in Turkey and Greece, but Marie-Andrée Leclerc and Ajay Chowdhury also became his accomplices. With the latter, Charles donned on the alias of Alain Gautier and posed as a gem dealer. He got people to trust him with this title before he robbed and killed them.
By stealing the valuables of his victims before disposing of their bodies, Charles was able to keep up the pretense of being a white-collar man. He mixed his cons with “real work” so as to avoid apprehension for as long as possible. It is estimated that Charles slew at least 12 individuals, but his real victim count could be anywhere between 20-30 people. So, the conman traveled the world using his victims’ money and passports until he was caught in India in 1976, where he remained incarcerated until 1997.
Upon Charles’ release from prison, he returned to France, where he hired a publicist and charged large sums of money for media interviews and photographs. In fact, he allegedly even sold the rights for a movie based on his life for over $15 million, which would now be equivalent to over $20 million. Moreover, even though he is currently behind bars in a Nepalese prison, he still agrees to speak to the media if he’s paid handsomely for it. In short, the serial killer continues to live a lavish life, just within four walls.
Charles Sobhraj Net Worth
Charles Sobhraj’s net worth is estimated to be close to $1 million. After all, even though he accumulated a lot of money through his frauds, he managed to spend most of it within a short period of time, whether to sustain his extravagant lifestyle or while gambling. Furthermore, as Charles himself has never been straightforward about how much he earned and when, it’s almost impossible to determine his exact net worth.
Read More: How Was Charles Sobhraj Caught?