Who is wannabe Chelsea owner Nick Candy? Meet the playboy tycoon with a taste for controversy (2024)

He is the billionaire London property tycoon who married a Neighbours actor and can claim Boris Johnson and Kylie Minogue among his friends.

However, if Nick Candy tables a bid to buy Chelsea, it may be the previous business links of a close associate that puts off Roman Abramovich.

For an oligarch trying to escape sanctions, it is not ideal that the shadowy world of Russian intelligence and Alexander Litvinenko, the murdered former spy, had previously been raised during a bruising High Court battle involving one of his prospective buyers.

A former university housemate, Mark Holyoake, ultimately failed in a three-year lawsuit in which he alleged Candy extorted £37 million of repayments on a £12m loan.

During the course of the case, lawyers representing Holyoake established a complicated papertrail between Steven Smith, who remains Candy's longstanding business advisor, Litvinenko and even the spy's suspected killer, Andrei Lugovoi. Risc, a private detective agency that Smith had been director of between 2005 and 2013, showed payments made to Litvinenko and Lugovoi prior to the former KGB agent's death by polonium in 2006.

Smith said he became aware Litvinenko had had “some form of association with Risc”, but denied having personal dealings with either of the Russian men. However, he confirmed Risc had links with Nick Candy, and fellow developer brother Christian, as he had hired the firm to do “heightened” due diligence on potential purchasers of properties at One Hyde Park, their flagship development in London.

Mr Justice Nugee would ultimately dismiss claims of extortion, blackmail, intimidation and breach of data protection made against the Candy brothers while recognising "none of the protagonists emerge from this trial with great credit".

Five years on, however, and business for Candy and his siblings - known collectively as the "bling brothers" - is as buoyant as ever, with the pair now worth £1.5 billion between them.

Who is wannabe Chelsea owner Nick Candy? Meet the playboy tycoon with a taste for controversy (1)

The 49 year-old confirmed to Telegraph Sport he is actively speaking to potential co-investors for a Chelsea bid. Some of his fellow investors at Audioboom - in which he owns a 15 per cent stake - may have been among those to pick up the phone. The podcast firm is deliberating the prospect of a sale after a pandemic in which Candy claims the business was put "on steroids".

Selling a tech business, which turned its first profit last year and has attracted takeover interest from Amazon and Spotify, might go some way towards helping him realise his grand ambitions to redevelop Stamford Bridge.

However, the bread and butter for Candy, who was recently in America for the Super Bowl, remains his luxury property business. The brothers’ best-known property developments include London’s One Hyde Park, NoHo Square and the redevelopment of the former Chelsea Barracks.

It will not be lost on the man who wants to buy Chelsea that his riches were built largely thanks to a West London property boom fuelled, in part, by Russian money. The brothers came from almost nowhere in the investment business, making a £50,000 profit on their first flat in Earls Court, having renovated it using a £6,000 loan from their grandmother.

Now Candy, a mainstay at celebrity hangouts and parties, is married to former pop star Holly Valance. The pair reportedly spent £2m on a lavish ceremony in Beverly Hills, California, with guests including Simon Cowell, Tracey Emin and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie. Katy Perry was paid £1.2m to sing at the bash.

One party Candy may wish to forget, however, was the Christmas gathering he attended with Conservative Shaun Bailey at the party’s headquarters on December 14, 2020 - when indoor social mixing was banned.

Who is wannabe Chelsea owner Nick Candy? Meet the playboy tycoon with a taste for controversy (2)

Talks between Candy and Raine Group are at a significantly less advanced stage than the offer led by American billionaire Todd Boehly, who is now waiting to find out whether Roman Abramovich will accept his bid.

However, despite fans speculating that he cannot match the financial clout of American consortiums who have already tabled bids, Candy has made a habit in overcoming his doubters.

"We are looking at what the art of the possible is," he told Telegraph Sport of his potential bid.

One Hyde Park - an imposing block of apartments which was billed as his defining achievement - was "a product never seen before", Candy has previously boasted.

Now, as he fixes eyes on another enormous West London redevelopment, he is once again in uncharted territory - and in need of all the luck that got him rich in the first place.

Chelsea's next owner: Profiling all the potential buyers

By Tom Morgan and Matt Law

Who is wannabe Chelsea owner Nick Candy? Meet the playboy tycoon with a taste for controversy (3)

With six days remaining from Roman Abramovich's deadline for Chelsea takeover offers, here are the billionaire runners and riders who are known to have expressed interest.

The early frontrunners

Net worth

American Boehly, part owner of baseball team Los Angeles Dodgers, has an estimated net worth of £4.7bn. Wyss, from Switzerland, worth £3.8bn, according to American business magazine Forbes. The consortium also involves a third, unknown, investor.

Who do they own currently?

Boehly is currently the co-founder, chairman and CEO of Eldridge Industries, a holding company. He also owns 20 per cent of the LA Dodgers. Wyss holds stakes in publicly-traded biotech companies NovoCure and Molecular Partners and has previously been described as "among the most philanthropic people in the world", though he has never previously invested in sport.

How did they make their money?

He amassed his wealth through medical device manufacturer Synthes, which was founded in 1997 as Synthes USA. It is now the largest maker of implants to mend bone fractures.

Wyss was Synthes' worldwide CEO and chairman until he resigned as CEO in 2017. He was company chairman until 2012 when Johnson & Johnson bought it.

What is known about their interest in Chelsea?

Telegraph Sport had been first in the UK to verify details of the Boehly-led offer, and it is understood to be a serious contender. He has previously attempted to buy Chelsea as well as Tottenham, but no final agreements were reached. He is now the first potential buyer to officially table an offer through the New York-based merchant bank Raine.

Net worth

Thomas Ricketts has a personal fortune £1.74bn, according to Forbes, and the family is estimated to be worth around £3.4 bn

Who do they own currently?

The family owns the vast majority of the Chicago Cubs baseball team, which sold equity in 2014 to renovate its Wrigley Field stadium. In addition, the Ricketts family owns an estimated 25 per cent stake in TV network CSN Chicago.

How did they make their money?

Thomas's father Joe merged his Nebraska-based discount stock brokerage in 1995 with a small online trading firm to form Ameritrade, and took it public two years later. A decade later Ameritrade acquired TD Waterhouse, and renamed the company TD Ameritrade.

Who is wannabe Chelsea owner Nick Candy? Meet the playboy tycoon with a taste for controversy (4)

What is known about their interest in Chelsea?

The Ricketts family and Chicago Cubs have declined to comment to Telegraph Sport on reports they could be a major rival for Boehly’s bid. However, they are believed to be in contention, having previously tried to buy AC Milan in 2018.

Net worth

Estimated to be £4.3billion

Who does he own now?

Johnson - a long-time ally of former US President Donald Trump - bought the New York Jets NFL team in 2000. Despite the value of the Jets rising dramatically from around £500m when he purchased the franchise to around £2.4bn now, the team's fortunes on the field have declined.

How did he make his money?

Johnson is part of the family that founded health products giant Johnson and Johnson in 1886. Much of the dynasty went to Johnson, who, in 2017, had more £1.2bn in wealth outside the Jets.

What is known about his interest in buying Chelsea?

The 74-year-old is believed to have spoken to Raine Group, and has watched Chelsea in past, having lived in London during his time as United States ambassador to the United Kingdom under Trump. Chelsea supporters may not welcome his interest, however, given the Jets have performed disastrously since he took over.

The longer shots

Net worth

Estimated by Forces to be at £4.2bn.

Who does he own now?

Harris co-owns a portfolio of sports holdings, including a minority stake in Crystal Palace. He is also managing owner of the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team.

How did he make his money?

The 56-year-old co-founded Apollo Global Management, one of the world's largest alternative investment firms. In 2008, Harris and his Apollo partners invested more than £1.5bn into LyondellBasell before it filed for bankruptcy in 2009. When Apollo eventually sold their shares in the company in 2013,[they realised the biggest profit ever from a private equity investment according to Bloomberg.

What is known about his interest in buying Chelsea?

Sources close to talks told the Financial Times he has been weighing up an offer, but any bid would be delayed by Premier League dual ownership rules which would probably force him to divest from Crystal Palace, which could become a major complication.

Muhsin Bayrak

Net Worth

The Turkish tycoon is reportedly worth £8 billion, but that figure is not verified by Forbes

What does he own now?

He is the chairman of a company called AB Group Holding which he founded in 1999.

How did he make his money?

His investment firm is involved in a number of different industries including construction, tourism and energy.

What is known about his interest in buying Chelsea?

He has told Turkish broadcaster Oda TV that he is making progress in negotiations."We have reached a certain stage," he said. "Our law and finance department will start talks with theirs in London on Thursday." However, there remains serious doubt about his claims among sources close to the process.

Who is wannabe Chelsea owner Nick Candy? Meet the playboy tycoon with a taste for controversy (2024)

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