Frederick Barclay in a bitter divorce battle

They teamed up in the 1960s to turn old boarding houses into hotels and moved into beer halls and casinos, marking the start of their business empire. Their holdings include delivery service Yodel and online retailer The Very Group.

Previously virtually inseparable, the twins grew increasingly distant over the years. The family was divided over the sale of the Ritz, which the identical twins bought for £75million in 1995.

The brothers were at odds over the sale of the Ritz of London.

The gilded hotel became tabloid news in 2020 when one of David’s sons, Alistair Barclay, allegedly set up a listening device in the veranda to record a private conversation between Frederick and his daughter, Amanda, about the sale of the hotel. . Frederick, in turn, had hotel security install a hidden camera that captured the eavesdropping incident.

The publicity-shy brothers paid £800,000 to settle the lawsuit, but the incident laid bare division over parting ways with their business empire, a split that Fredrick called “the biggest mistake of my life”. The two men were so far apart that they literally fought on a luxury yacht, Frederick’s wife, Hiroko Barclay, said in court testimony this week.

Last year Frederick Barclay was ordered to pay Hiroko – his 34-year-old partner – £100m as part of their divorce. The payout ranks among the highest made public by British courts, where big settlements between the rich and famous are usually reached behind closed doors.

But Barclay did not hand over the money, saying he did not have the funds, according to his ex-wife. Judge Cohen told the tycoon last year he had three months to pay half the divorce payment. His ex-spouse accused him of trying to “set things up” and hide “behind a web of complex structures”, until either she or Frederick died.


Barclay is the primary beneficiary of a trust which receives loan note funds worth £545m, Hiroko’s lawyers have said.

For years the twins have lived in a faux Gothic castle on private land off the northern coast of France, one of the self-governing Channel Island groups that depend on Britain for defence. The islands have long been a magnet for the wealthy thanks to their low tax regimes and opaque corporate structures

David Barclay is buried on the island, which the twins first acquired in 1993.

“It’s pretty isolated,” Hiroko said during his testimony. “May to October is beautiful.”


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