Film director and foodie Michael Winner really seems one of life’s losers now that his finances have unravelled after his death.
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Flamboyant Winner wined and dined at the most exclusive restaurants and spent an annual £90,000 holiday in the Caribbean.
To most, he seemed to have all the trappings of wealth.
But the truth was Winner was up to his eyeballs in millions of pounds of debt.
The exact figure still needs calculating by his executors, but Winner seems to have owed around £12 million – and not long before his death confessed to taking out a £9 million loan.
His debts may still be greater because he also had mortgages against his seven-bedroom mansion in West London’s select Holland Park.
The trouble is that the property was valued at £60 million at the peak of the property bubble but is now expected to be worth £20 million.
Winner’s gross net worth – before paying loans and bills – is estimated at almost £17 million, but that plunges to a net amount of around £4.75 million when the bills are paid, and then tumbles to £2.85 million after inheritance tax of £1.9 million is paid at a rate of 40%.
Besides the London mansion and Caribbean extravagance, Winner also invested heavily in classic cars and regularly chartered helicopters for trips out of London.
He died in January 2013, aged 77, after suffering a long illness.
Confidential details of Winner’s private life have also been revealed as lawyers work to sort out his finances for his wife and other beneficiaries.
Many of the loans were to pay off former lovers and staff, who live in homes he paid for around London.
Some beneficiaries who have received cash and property gifts within seven years of Winner’s death have already received inheritance tax assessments from HM Revenue and Customs.
Although they pay at a discount on the top rate of 40%, some are still substantial bills.
Widow Geraldine had pinned her hopes on ending up with £5 million from her husband’s estate – plus the mansion home.
That looks increasingly unlikely as the money men work on the figures.
The house seems to be worth little. The home is a leasehold with just 35 years left to run, which makes the property difficult to mortgage and unattractive as an investment.
Renewing the lease with the owners, the Ilchester Estate is rumoured to likely cost around £15 million, and as the house is unlikely to value significantly more, it is a turn-off for a buyer.
The financial devastation Winner has left by failing to tackle his estate planning is a warning to anyone to take action rather than leave finances to chance on their death.
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