Cheat Sheet: Joseph C. Lewis

A Mystery

A man who may or may not be Joseph Lewis.Photo: Corbis Sygma

Last night, reclusive British billionaire Joseph C. Lewis disclosed his acquisition of a 7 percent stake in Bear Stearns in an SEC filing. Turns out, over the past several months, the 70-year-old currency trader (known in currency-trading circles as “the Boxer”) used a string of holding companies registered in the Bahamas to quietly acquire $860.4 million worth of shares, surpassing company’s beleaguered CEO, Jimmy Cayne, to become the company’s largest shareholder. But other than being Cayne’s new daddy, who is Joseph C. Lewis? After the jump, a cheat sheet, to be read in the voice of Robin Leach.

• With a net worth of $2.5 billion dollars (all together now: “two-point foive beelyan dollas”), Lewis is listed as No. 369 on Forbes world ranking of billionaires. According to the London Sunday Times “Rich List,” he is also the sixteenth richest British person.
• But he started out small. Born in London’s East End, he dropped out of school at 15 to work at his father’s pub-restaurant which he eventually turned into a chain that he sold in 1979.
• Soon after, he moved his business interests to the Bahamas and started getting obscenely rich betting against the pound and the peso.
• Now, his investment vehicle, the Tavistock Group, holds interests in more than 170 companies in fifteen countries.
• He keeps homes in Argentina, Florida, London, and the Bahamas, where in 1998 his mansion was rumored to be worth $50 million. The walls are reportedly decorated with several screens showing the latest foreign exchange prices, as well as a Picasso and a Miro.
• He is rumored among Bahamians to be the real father of Dannielynn Birkhead. (We wish).
• He hosts the Tavistock Cup Golf Tournament and is BFF with Tiger Woods, his neighbor in Isleworth, Lewis’s luxury development in Windermere, Florida. “Any time I have any kind of business venture that I might be leery of, I can run it by him,” Woods told the Nassau Guardian last year.
• With a partner, Lewis controls the English Premier League soccer club Tottenham Hotspur.
• He has not given an interview since 1998.

Joe Lewis: Boxing clever? [UK Independent]

Cheat Sheet: Joseph C. Lewis