Duke is 6th richest in North East as fortune increases by £37m

The Duke of Northumberland. Picture by Jane ColtmanThe Duke of Northumberland. Picture by Jane Coltman
The Duke of Northumberland. Picture by Jane Coltman
The Duke of Northumberland's wealth has increased by £37million in the last year, according to 2019 The Sunday Times Rich List.

Ralph Percy, the 12th Duke, is listed as the sixth most wealthy person in the North East, up one place from last year, with a fortune of £419million, increased from £382million a year ago.

The new edition of The Sunday Times Rich List will be published this Sunday, May 12. The 156-page special edition of The Sunday Times Magazine reveals the wealth of the 1,000 richest people in Britain in its 31st annual edition.

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Duncan DavidsonDuncan Davidson
Duncan Davidson

The founder of Persimmon Homes, Duncan Davidson, of Lilburn Estates, near Wooler, and his family are 19th on the list with £149million, down £26million.

Topping the list again is Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, whose wealth has dramatically decline over the past year. He is the list's sole billionaire with a fortune of £1.976billion, down £461million on last year, thanks in no small part to the £150million he lost when Debenhams collapsed last month, taking Ashley’s 30% stake in the business with it.

The tycoon was left fuming when banks and other creditors assumed control of Debenhams, costing Ashley every penny he poured into the ailing department store chain, and he has since threatened legal action. His football club Newcastle United is still up for sale. Despite going on the market as far back as October 2017, a deal to sell the club has not yet been reached and he faces delicate negotiations to keep manager Rafa Benitez at the club beyond the end of his contract in June.

Ashley’s main source of wealth is his Sports Direct business, the value of which has dropped to £1.54billion from a peak of £5billion in 2014, with his personal stake now worth £939.4million.

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Ellis Short’s expensive tenure of Sunderland AFC has cost him his billionaire status, according to The Sunday Times. Short, 58, sees his fortune slump by £140million after agreeing to walk away from Sunderland and wipe out debts of at least £116.7million, according to the latest club accounts. He left the club in 2018 after a second successive relegation into League One.

Short poured in at least £200million into the former Premier League club during his nine-year stint at the helm. Short is now worth £860million, down £340million in two years, but is still the second wealthiest person in the North East..

The top 20 richest people in the North East are: 1 Mike Ashley, £1.976bn (down £461m); 2 Ellis Short, £860m (down £140m); 3 Mark Fenwick & family, £700m (down £30m); 4 Alastair & Michael Powell, £515m (up £90m); 5 Peter Stephenson & family, £468m (down £15m); 6 The Duke of Northumberland, £419m (up £37m); 7 Dame Margaret and Helen Barbour & family, £395m (up £40m); 8 Duncan Bannatyne, £300m (up £20m); 9 Steve Gibson, £210m (up £15m); 10 Sting, £200m (up £10m); 11 Phil Cronin and family, £190m (up £37m); 12 Sir Peter Vardy and family, £187m (down £10m); 13= Michael Cannon, £170m (no change); 13= Graham Wylie, £170m (up £10m); 15 Raj Sehgal and Sanjeev Mehan and family, £163m (up £3m); 16 Stuart Monk and family, £159m (up £17m); 17 Chai Patel, £154m (up £4m); 18 Jonathan Ruffer, £151m (down £274m); 19 Duncan Davidson and family, £149m (down £26m); 20 Carol Kane, £141m (up £21m).

The complete list will be available to the paper’s digital subscribers at thesundaytimes.co.uk/richlist2019.

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Robert Watts, the compiler of The Sunday Times Rich List, said: “A lot of people say the rich only ever get richer, but our North East Rich List shows that isn’t always true. Turbulence on the stock market, political deadlock over Brexit and the cyclone of change sweeping through our high streets has hammered the wealth of some of the region’s super-rich.

“Around a third of the North East’s super-rich have seen their wealth fall since last year – a higher proportion than other parts of the UK. It’s easy to think this doesn’t matter to the rest of us. But if a bad year encourages these tycoons to shrink their businesses the implications can be big for our communities.”