I’m a self-made billionaire but hate spending money – my jeans cost £29

-Credit: (Image: Dave Benett/amfAR)
-Credit: (Image: Dave Benett/amfAR)


Billionaire John Caudwell may own the UK's most expensive home, a luxury yacht and a fleet of vintage cars but the entrepreneur claims to hate splurging money. The 71-year-old is known for his eccentric wardrobe which boasts an array of tailored glittery jackets.

However, when it comes to staples like jeans he prefers to hit the high street. One pair he paid just £29 for from fashion retailer Zara.

It's perhaps a nod to his humble beginnings growing up in Wellesley Street, Shelton, before moving to the Bentilee council estate. He went on to build a business empire and is now worth around £1.5billion.

In an interview with the iPaper, former Berry Hill High School student John revealed he describes himself as both 'flashy' and 'frugal'. He said: "Out of the public eye you won’t see me in one of the glitzy jackets I’m known for. They’re just for the charity dinners. At home I’ll be in £29 Zara jeans and a shirt."

READ: I grew up poor in Bentilee and can spot a gold-digger now I'm worth £1.5bn John Caudwell spent a largely unhappy 'street urchin' childhood in Shelton and Bentilee

READ: Inside John Caudwell's tough childhood and relationship with troubled dadStoke-on-Trent-born Phones4U billionaire Caudwell tells all in autobiography

The Phones 4U mogul also revealed his greatest extravagance was a £1.8 million helicopter he bought in 2009. He also owns a yacht named Titania.

He said: "That sounds a lot, but when you’re a billionaire it’s not really. At the time I needed it to travel around the country quickly, but I don’t need it anymore, so now it is an indulgence."

It's all a long way from moving into the first home he owned on the outskirts of Stoke-on-Trent which had no furniture or gas.

He said: "We sat on orange boxes, borrowed a stove from my mother’s caravan and cooked bean on toast on that until we eventually got out of the poverty trap. But I didn’t see it as a struggle. It was just where we were at that point."

Incredibly, John is now the proud owners of what is believed to be the UK's most expensive meg mansion in Mayfair, London, which is estimated to be worth £250 million. He spent £65 million and four years renovating the property in one of the world's most exclusive postcodes.

The philanthropist had already splashed out £87 million on buying Ancaster House, and the neighbouring property from Prince Jefri Bolkiah, the brother of the Sultan of Brunei. He then knocked them into one giant 43,000 square-foot mansion - the size of Westminster Cathedral or 55 average London flats - before embarking on the revamp.

It was all made possible from his gamble on mobile phones in the 1980s. With his brother Brian, in 1987 John registered Midland Mobile Phones as a mobile phone wholesaler taking 26 Motorola mobiles at £1,350 each.

It took eight months to sell all 26 phones to plumbers, taxi drivers and television repairmen at a price of £2,000 each. The company made a loss every month for the first two years of operations.

In 2003 he sold Singlepoint to Vodafone for £405m and completed the sale of the wider business three years later for £1.46 billion to private equity firms Providence Equity Partners and Doughty Hanson.

He now claims his money weakness to be charity and once even spent £800,000 for three days in South Africa with Elton John and David Furnish visiting their own charitable work.

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