COAL MINER’S SON WITH £40M FORTUNE
On bail, twice-married hotelier who quit motor racing after fatal smash
BORN the son of a coal miner in Rotherham, David Matthews managed to amass a reputed £40million.
He also gained the title Laird of Glen Affric, while his children have millions of pounds of their own.
His father started him on the road to better things by leaving mining and setting up a garage near the Yorkshire town. Matthews started working as an apprentice mechanic. He soon found however that he was better at selling cars, through gruelling door-todoor rounds.
He did try his hand at motor racing, and was seen as promising until he was in a serious crash at Silverstone. It left another driver dead, and Matthews with an eye injury that ended his racing career.
Instead, he concentrated on building his own second-hand car empire, with motor dealerships and interests in luxury coach-making.
His first marriage was to Anita Taylor, herself a racing driver. They had a daughter, Nina, but later divorced. By the Nineties, Matthews had made enough to start serious property development.
He married for a second time to Bohemian artist Jane Parker, now 70, daughter of an architect in what was then called Rhodesia. She had been carnival queen at Rhodes University in the African country, now Zimbabwe, and after graduating with a fine art degree won a scholarship to study in the Netherlands. After stopping off in London on her way there, she never left.
She was working as a receptionist at Christian Dior when Matthews saw a picture of her, and was so taken that he tracked her down and married her.
That marriage, in contrast to Pippa’s glittery welcome to the family last year, was a simple affair in Rotherham register office. Matthews had one glass of champagne and went back to work. After living in a Rotherham bungalow, the couple moved to Paris, then to tax-haven Monaco.
On holiday in 1995 they loved the faded glamour of the Eden Rock hotel on the Caribbean isle of St Barts so much that they bought it. They moved to the French- speaking island and set about restoring the hotel, which now charges many thousands a night to celebrity guests including Brad Pitt, Elton John and Beyonce.
Matthews said creating the hotel made him feel ‘truly alive in a way that I didn’t back home’. He added: ‘Perhaps life there was too comfortable, too provincial.’
He is nicknamed The Band by his children, in reference to The Dave Matthews Band, and also owns a 10,000-acre Scottish estate, Glen Affric, which boasts a trout-stuffed loch and a Victorian hunting lodge. He and Miss Parker had three sons. James and Michael were born within 18 months of each other – but there was a 13-year gap before the youngest, Spencer, came along. James, now 42, went to Uppingham public school but not to university.
He raced, like his father, winning the 1994 British Renault championship, then started making money in the City, first as a derivatives trader where his desk adjoined his brother Michael’s. Michael became the youngest Briton to conquer Mount Everest at 22 in 1999 – but never returned from the summit. He is presumed to have died there.
Two years after his brother’s death James set up Eden Rock Capital Management, which generated enough profit for him to buy a Chelsea house for £17million to share with Pippa Middleton.
Spencer, 28, went into nightclub promotion before finding he was a natural on the reality TV show Made in Chelsea. He has become notorious for his hard partying, and has boasted of six-in-a-bed sex, alongside talk of cocaine use.
Kensington Palace declined to comment last night.
Tropical: Matthews bought Eden Rock hotel after 1995 visit HIS CARIBBEAN PARADISE