But despite his unfortunate start to the year, Sir Frederick Barclay, who owns a mock-Gothic fort on the Channel Island of Brecqhou, is still very much king of the castle in the Sunday Times Rich List.
The Barclays have once again been named the Channel Islands’ richest family, with an estimated wealth of £6 billion. And they held on to the top spot despite losing £1 billion during the course of 2020, which saw them fall 11 places in the national list to 28th.
The release of this year’s Rich List follows a difficult 12 months for 86-year-old Sir Frederick, whose twin brother, Sir David, died in January.
The media and property tycoon later lost a divorce case against Lady Hiroko Barclay, his wife of 34 years, and was criticised by a judge after he breached a court order by not producing the proceeds from the sale of a yacht.
The Barclay family, who own the Daily Telegraph, have spent much of the last two decades at the top of the Channel Islands regional Rich List.
Their reign briefly came to an end in 2018, when they were toppled by Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich. The Russian billionaire vanished from the regional list the following year, having never actually taken up residence in the Island.
Glenn Gordon and family, meanwhile, are perhaps living proof that people did definitely drink more alcohol during the pandemic.
The Jersey-based family, who own the Grant’s whisky business, saw their wealth soar by £409 million in 2020, with a total fortune of £3.59 billion. They are ranked second in the islands and 49th in the national list.
Chris and Sarah Dawson are ranked joint-third in the Channel Islands, with an estimated wealth of £2.05 billion – a figure which has remained unchanged over the past year. They are 79th in the national list.
Devon-born Mr Dawson (69) is a self-made billionaire who founded the budget garden and leisure chain The Range.
The couple feature in the list following Mr Dawson’s decision two years ago to switch the ownership of his main business to his Jersey-based wife.
The Dawsons sit alongside Douw Steyn and family, who are based in Guernsey and have made their money in insurance, and also have an estimated wealth of £2.05 billion.
Entrepreneur Simon Nixon is ranked just below them, with £1.8 billion – up £450 million on last year.
As the founder of the price comparison website moneysupermarket.com, Mr Nixon knows a thing or two about managing his pennies, and he has been a constant figure in the Channel Islands list since moving to Jersey several years ago and building himself a house overlooking St Brelade’s Bay. He is ranked 91st in the national list.
Nationally, the Rich List featured a record 171 billionaires in the UK, with Ukranian-born Sir Leonard Blavatnik topping the pile as the richest person in the country.
Robert Watts, who compiled the list, said: ‘The big picture was very surprising – we were expecting it to be quite a bleak year, but instead we have seen a boom.
‘I think a lot of readers will find it quite unsettling that while many of us were suffering hardship during the pandemic, the rich just got richer.’
He added: ‘A lot of the national trends are seen in the Channel Island figures. We know that the pandemic pressed the fast-forward button for online shopping and had the opposite effect on in-store shopping. We can see that the Dawsons, who own The Range, saw their wealth stay flat, which is what you would expect. The Gordon family had a strong year going into the pandemic and it is clear that the rise in home drinking offset, to some extent, the closure of pubs.’
The full Rich List will be published in tomorrow’s Sunday Times.