10 Things You Didn’t Know About Richard Desmond

Richard Desmond has made quite a name for himself in the world of media and business. With his shrewd entrepreneurial skills, he has built an empire that spans across publishing, broadcasting, and entertainment. While many know him as the former owner of the Daily Express newspaper, there’s much more to Richard Desmond than meets the eye. Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about this influential figure.

1. Childhood in London’s East End

Richard Desmond was born on December 8, 1951, in Hampstead, London. However, his childhood was far from privileged. Desmond grew up in a Jewish family in the working-class district of Stoke Newington in East London. Despite facing financial hardships, he used his enterprising nature even at a young age. He would buy old newspapers, cut out the football results, and sell them to his classmates, displaying early signs of his business acumen.

2. Early Ventures in the Music Industry

Before making his mark in the world of publishing, Richard Desmond ventured into the music industry. In the 1970s, he founded the record label, The R&B Record Company. Desmond signed iconic bands like The New Seekers and The Three Degrees, achieving considerable success in the UK music scene. However, he eventually sold the label to focus on his future endeavors.

3. The Birth of Northern & Shell

In the mid-1980s, Richard Desmond established Northern & Shell, a publishing company that would become the cornerstone of his media empire. The company initially focused on adult publications such as Penthouse and Asian Babes, which faced criticism from some quarters. However, Desmond managed to turn these publications into profitable ventures, attracting a dedicated readership.

4. Donations to Charity

While Richard Desmond has had his fair share of controversy throughout his career, he has also been involved in various philanthropic efforts. His charitable foundation, The Richard Desmond Charitable Trust, has donated millions of pounds to causes such as medical research, education, and support for the homeless. Some notable beneficiaries include Great Ormond Street Hospital, the Down’s Syndrome Association, and Jewish Care.

5. Television Endeavors – Channel 5

In the late 1990s, Richard Desmond expanded his media empire by acquiring a significant stake in the UK’s fifth terrestrial television channel, Channel 5. Under his ownership, Channel 5 experienced substantial growth and became a prominent player in the television industry. Desmond later sold the channel in 2010 but left a lasting impact on the broadcasting landscape.

6. Controversy Surrounding the Daily Express

Richard Desmond is perhaps best known for his ownership of the Daily Express, which he acquired in 2000. During his tenure, the newspaper faced criticism for its editorial stance and sensationalist headlines. However, it also saw an increase in circulation and profitability. Desmond later sold the paper in 2018, marking the end of an era.

7. Queen’s Honors

In recognition of his services to the newspaper and media industries, Richard Desmond was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2010 Birthday Honours. This prestigious honor acknowledges his significant contributions and impact on the media landscape in the United Kingdom.

8. Involvement in Property Development

Beyond the media realm, Richard Desmond has delved into property development. He successfully transformed a disused Westferry Printworks site in London’s Docklands into a residential and commercial development known as “Newspaper House.” This project has contributed to the regeneration of the local area and showcases Desmond’s ability to diversify his business interests.

9. Love for Wildlife Photography

Beyond the boardroom, Richard Desmond has a passion for wildlife photography. He has traveled extensively, capturing mesmerizing shots of various endangered species in their natural habitats. Desmond’s photography has been exhibited at prestigious galleries, allowing others to appreciate the beauty of the animal kingdom through his lens.

10. Net Worth and Retirement

With his successful business ventures, Richard Desmond amassed considerable wealth. As of 2021, his net worth is estimated to be over £2 billion. In 2016, Desmond announced his retirement from the media industry, focusing instead on his philanthropic efforts and personal interests.

Useful Links:

Northern & Shell Official Website
Richard Desmond Official Website
Channel 5 Official Website