Joseph Lewis, the secretive millionaire at the centre of speculation
over the future of auction house Christie’s International, has called on
Maurice Barnfather of The Communication Group to help cope with press
Lewis, who is ranked Britain’s 8th richest person by the Sunday Times
with an estimated pounds 1 billion fortune, hit the headlines at the end
of last month amid rumours that he had increased his 28.9 per cent share
of Christie’s to a controlling 30 per cent stake.
A tax exile in the Bahamas since 1979, Lewis is notoriously publicity
shy. He has never given a newspaper interview and no picture library in
the world has a photograph of him.
Barnfather, who is deputy chairman of The Communication Group’s
financial and corporate division and a personal friend of Lewis, was
approached by the millionaire for advice on how to handle the flurry of
‘I have known Joseph for some time and, given all the press attention,
he has asked for some advice,’ said Barnfather. ‘He is a very private
man who doesn’t court publicity who suddenly finds that he is at the
centre of media attention.’
Barnfather stressed that his advice was being given on a voluntary basis
and that Lewis was not a paying client of TCG. But he did not rule out
the possibility that the relationship could be put on a more formal
footing in the future. ‘We will see what happens and how things
develop,’ he said.
Although Lewis’s main holding company Tavistock Group owns interests as
diverse as financial services, property, food, transportation and
entertainment, most of his fortune has been amassed from foreign
exchange dealings. His credit lines with international banks run from
dollars 500 million to dollars 2 billion and insiders say his personal
fortune could be as big as pounds 5 billion.