It’s not uncommon for the super rich to be a bit strange. However, these ten eccentric individuals stand out as the oddest of the odd.
10. The Financial Wizard and Secret Artist
Before 2000, Henri Barande would have only been known as an intensely private but majorly successful businessman having started his brilliant financial career at the age of 19. However, Barande had a secret that no one would have ever expected: he was extremely talented artist. Barande first became interested in art at age 5 after seeing artifacts being discovered in his boyhood country of Tunisia which contained the ruins of Carthage. Barande went into business and soon amassed an enormous fortune but his heart belonged to art and the antiquities. He both volunteered for archeological excavations and secretly created brilliant art. Working in private, he kept his artistic ambitions so secret that his second wife only learned about them two years after their marriage. In 2000, Barande finally unveiled his staggering talent to great acclaim and left the business world so he could work on a foundation to manage his art.
9. The Elusive Man Who Ran Marvel
Ike Perlmutter is one of the men behind the Marvel superhero franchise. Marvel characters are completely fictional but so little is known about Perlmutter that he too could be fictional. He has never granted an interview and there is only one confirmed photograph of Perlmutter taken thirty years ago in 1985. When the Iron Man movie premiered in 2008, Perlmutter attended disguised behind a mustache and glasses. Perlmutter was born in Israel and is believed to have fought in the Six-Day War. He immigrated to America and made his fortune from a toy company called Toy Biz and in 1998 took control of Marvel which was performing poorly at the time. He soon turned Marvel into the powerhouse it is today. Despite his role with the iconic Marvel and his high profile charitable efforts, he has managed to slip below the radar only recently returning to the spotlight after his support of presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Donald Trump. No longer actively involved with Marvel, Perlmutter has been recently been embroiled in a series of bizarre lawsuits alleging he started a slanderous hate-mail chain against a neighbor.
8. The Australian Tarzan
Michael Fomenko was descended from Georgian aristocracy and it seemed that he would lead a life of privilege; instead, he decided to become a bushman living in the North Queensland rainforest of Australia which gave him the nickname “Australia’s Tarzan.” After the 1927 Russian Revolution threatened Fomenko’s family, they settled in Australia. An athlete and avid outdoorsman, Fomenko decided to live in the jungle full-time sometime in the 1960s. His mother didn’t approve of his choices and had him institutionalized where he endured electric shock therapy which caused chronic amnesia. Fomenko fled to the jungle once again in 1969 and was left alone. In 2012, Fomenko was thought to have died because he all sightings of him ceased. Fomenko hadn’t died, though, he was in a nursing home. Now in his eighties, Fomenko can no longer walk and continues to remain in solitude- he won’t socialize with any of the other residents at his care facility.
7. eBay’s Founder’s “Second Life”
Pierre Omidyar is the wildly successful founder of the world famous Internet auction sight eBay. However, for many years Omidyar lived a double life as a tall, tattooed black man with no hair named Kitto Mandala on the virtual platform Second Life. This wasn’t for entertainment either- Omidyar used this alias to communicate with business contacts. For several years, Omidyar lived as a recluse hardly making any contact with the outside world. The only way he did business was by using his Second Life profile but that didn’t mean that he didn’t indulge in other activities. There are images of his avatar in a bondage themed dungeon and giving business talks. While Omidyar was an investor in the company behind Second Life, no one knew that the man behind Kitto Mandala was in fact a billionaire.
6. The Socialist Millionaire Who Lived as a Pauper
Klaus Zapf, who passed away in 2014 from a heart attack, was the founder of Zapf Umzuge, one of Europe’s largest moving and relocation companies. Despite his tremendous wealth, Zapf lived a shockingly frugal life living in a small flat and only spent money on basic necessities. Living off of just 300€ a month, Zapf said that money only made people “unequal” and espoused a socialist philosophy that had picked up during his time in college in the late sixties and seventies.
He may have disliked big business but he certainly knew how to make money. After leaving university in 1975, Zapf began working moving furniture in West Berlin. Since he didn’t have a driver’s license, he hired others to handle it which inadvertently created his business. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, Zapf correctly predicted that the German capital would move from Bonn to Berlin; when this occurred, Zapf’s company had a virtual monopoly which made him a multi-millionaire even if he never did acknowledge it.
5. Zipporah Lisle-Mainwaring and her “Candy-Striped” House
Zipporah Lisle-Mainwaring has become most famous for her stubbornness against the Kensington neighborhood counsel in London. The conflict began in 2012 when Lisle-Mainwaring purchased an old office building in Kensington, one of London’s most expensive neighborhoods, with the intention of remodeling it into her dream home. However, when K&C Counsel (Kensington and Chelsea) denied her construction requests and leveled a multi-million pound lawsuit that would drag on for years. Her next move was even more bold: she “candy striped” her house with red and white paint.
Lawsuits on both sides would drag on for years with Lisle-Mainwaring eventually spending over £1 million in legal fees so she could get her way. Many long-time Kensington residents have complained about the so-called basement extensions being done by newer residents like Lisle-Mainwaring with Queen musician Brian May writing an open letter to the K&C saying the neighborhood had become a “hellhole.” In 2016, Lisle-Mainwaring announced that she would tear down her infamous property and build a completely new house instead putting an anti-climatic end to the four-year long debacle.
4. The Marxist Womanizing Millionaire Turned Killer
Even as he grew older, millionaire architect and self-proclaimed Marxist Michael Morton remained popular with women. He presented himself as an educated, albeit eccentric, English gentleman and successfully used personal ads that often read “Marx and Mozart: Seeks Love” to find new partners. In 1997, Morton’s second wife Gracia mysteriously disappeared and he managed to remain above suspicion for several years despite repeated inquiries. Morton actually had a history of violence and cruelty towards his partners. A shameless philanderer, he had five children with four different women and countless other girlfriends over the years many of whom attested to his short temper which often ended in violence.
In 1985, The mother of one of his children claimed that he had beaten her during her pregnancy and on another occasion raped her. Gracia, 19 years Morton’s junior, married him in 1987 but after years of physical and mental abuse, she left in 1997 and subsequently disappeared. Her case was not handled as a crime so many crucial details were lost but suspicions were raised after Morton immediately tried to claim her £750,000 fortune- not like he needed it. It seemed that Morton had gotten away with his crimes but CCTV video found in 2003 definitively incriminated him. In 2005, Morton was convicted for his second wife’s murder.
3. The Generous Entrepreneur and his Pampered Pets
When he was just a senior in high school, Ron Sturgeon’s father passed away leaving him penniless and homeless. Over many years, Sturgeon built a multi-million dollar fortune from his junk yard business. While Sturgeon’s rags-to-riches story is amazing in its own right, it’s Sturgeon’s antics after making money that makes him notable. Sturgeon is an animal lover, so much so that announced in 2014 that he was leaving his $75 million fortune to his three Cavalier King Charles spaniels.
Sturgeon has indulged his dogs with a custom mansion built entirely for them along with their own personal staff and a $45-an-hour marketer who operates the dogs’ social media accounts. Sturgeon’s family- including his children who are independently wealthy and his girlfriend- have accepted his decision. Sturgeon’s generosity isn’t just for his pets, though, as shown in January 2016 when a series of tornadoes in North Texas left many families without homes. Sturgeon offered to house families in vacant mansions he owned for just a $1 a month until they got back on their fee.
2. The Colorful Baronet Looking for an Heir
Baronet Sir Benjamin Slade is known as Britain’s most flamboyant aristocrat. A multi-millionaire shipping magnate and descendant of English monarchs Henry I and George IV, he has built a reputation for unpredictable behavior. His eccentricities range from offering £1,000 pound rewards for killing beavers at his Somerset estate (beavers have been extinct from Great Britain for 500 years and have only recently been reintroduced), to placing a curse on whomever purchased an 18th century painting he claimed rightfully belonged to him, which seems to have worked since the painting was returned to him soon afterwards to avoid litigation, to launching an international campaign to find a wife. After his wife of twelve years divorced him in 2013, Sir Slade realized that he had no suitable heir. Deciding not to leave his fortune to any of the other 3,500 members of the Slade family, he announced that he was searching for a wife so he could have children of his own even preserving his genes if need be. In his search for a spouse, Sir Slade advertised on Facebook, crashed weddings hosted at his estate, and even admitted to proposing to three women in one night.
1. The Dark Legacy of Stanley Marsh
When Stanley Marsh 3 (he always 3 rather that III claiming that Roman numerals were pretentious) died in 2014, he left two starkly opposing legacies: one as an outrageous Texan who committed audacious pranks and the other as a child predator who was accused of sexually abusing almost a dozen teenage boys over the years. Stanley Marsh’s public antics were always harmless even they did gain the ire of more conservative members of the community.
Marsh was known to wear loudly checkered suits to his 12th story office from which he was also known to drop water balloons. He even got on Richard Nixon’s “enemies list” when he wrote to First Lady Pat Nixon about including her hats in a museum dedicated to decadent art. Other stunts included setting up humorous road signs throughout his home city of Amarillo and wrapping a giant necktie around the chimney of his mother’s home, but he is most famous for commissioning “Cadillac Ranch”. Cadillac Ranch consists of ten vintage Cadillacs which were buried nose first and with their backs jutting in the air; this was so notable that Bruce Springsteen even wrote a song about the display.
In 2012, a shadow was cast over Marsh’s reputation when a lawsuit was filed on the behalf of ten teenage boys who claimed that they had been sexually abused by Marsh after plying them with drugs and alcohol. It was a well-hidden secret that Marsh abused boys over the years that only came to light shortly before his death. In 2013, Marsh was arrested for sexual assault. However, he was incapacitated by a series of strokes by then and settled out of court but was facing further charges at the time of his death in 2014. In 2015, police reopened their investigation against his family and business partners who allegedly facilitated his trafficking of young men and the case remains ongoing.