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Monday, 30 October, 2000, 15:25 GMT
Sir Elton: Man of means
Sir Elton John
Sir Elton: Extravagant but generous
By the BBC's Andrew Walker

Sir Elton John's wealth has become as legendary as his musical talent.

During his 30 years at the top, Sir Elton has amassed a fortune conservatively estimated at 160m.

But his generosity and capacity for spending has also made headlines.

In addition to his 37-acre estate in Windsor, Sir Elton keeps a house in London's exclusive Holland Park.

He also has properties in the South of France and the United States.


I could find a shop in the Sahara desert

Sir Elton John

Beyond that, Sir Elton is known to have an enthusiastic capacity for shopping.

In one day alone, he set the tills ringing to the tune of 527,859 and once quipped: "I could find a shop in the Sahara desert."

His chief loves are CDs (he buys more than one copy of each recording) clothes and art.

Besides this, Sir Elton has built vast collections of designer spectacles and, more recently, photographs.

Among his 2,500 pictures by some of the world's greatest photographers, he can count Man Ray's Noire et Blanche, which he bought for a record 357,353 in 1998.

Sir Elton's generosity is also well-documented. He spent 120,000 on catering for his 50th birthday party.

Presents

He has given his staff Cartier watches as presents and has donated large amounts to charity - most notably to those involved with research into, and treatment of, HIV and Aids.

The star's 1984 marriage to studio engineer Renate Blauel ended three years later. The divorce settlement was reportedly around 10m.

Sir Elton and partner Furnish
Sir Elton: Stable with his partner Furnish

Sir Elton is proud to be British to the core and even takes Marks & Spencers muffins and HP sauce with him on his foreign travels.

As such, he is one of a select band of home-grown megastars not to have been tempted by the life of a tax exile.

Consequently, he has made his home in England where he is subject to the normal higher rate of 40% income tax.

In 1999, Sir Elton put his financial house in order by borrowing 25m from Samuel Montagu, the private arm of HSBC.

Despite press speculation to the contrary, he denied he had money troubles.

"My finances are fine," he told the Radio Times, "I live lavishly and love beautiful things. I got a bank loan because I wanted to invest in my back publishing.

"No one lends you 25m if you don't have the money - please."

Capital

The loan will allow Sir Elton to buy back the rights to his first six albums and is thought to be secured on his future earnings.

Other musicians who have gone down this path include David Bowie - whose Bowiebond recently made a 500m Wall Street debut - heavy metal band Iron Maiden and Rod Stewart.

Financial experts regard such a move as prudent, but only for those who have a sufficiently large and impressive back catalogue of hits.

Stars can "free up" a large amount of capital at one time rather than wait for the drip-drip of yearly royalties.

At 53, Sir Elton John is an older, wiser man.

Now in a stable relationship with his partner David Furnish and despite a recent heart scare, Sir Elton is a healthier, if not wealthier, man.

The spending could continue as before - Sir Elton's friends say that his compulsive buying is as much a part of the man as the music.

But, having survived all the rigours of a rock 'n' roll lifestyle, the prince of Pinner can safely claim that, just like the song, "I'm still standing".

See also:

30 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Sir Elton sues 'trusted advisers'
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