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Joe Lewis (British businessman)

Joseph C. "Joe" Lewis (born 5 February 1937) is a British businessman, investor, and art collector who currently lives in New Providence, Bahamas.

Joe Lewis
Born Joseph Lewis
(1937-02-05) 5 February 1937 (age 81)
Bow, London, UK
Residence Albany, New Providence, Bahamas
Nationality British
Occupation Chairman of Tavistock Group
Years active 1958–present
Net worth US$5.6 billion (Feb 2017)[1]
Successor Incumbent
Spouse(s) Esther Browne (divorced)
Jane Lewis
Children with Browne:
-Vivienne Lewis Silverton
-Charles Lewis

Lewis' total wealth is estimated at $US5.3 billion, and he is listed as the 248th richest person on Forbes’ List of billionaires (2016). Forbes reports that Lewis is the sixth wealthiest person in the UK.[2]


Early lifeEdit

Lewis was born to a Jewish[3][4] family above a public house in Roman Road, Bow, London.[5] Lewis left school at 15 to help run his father's West End of London catering business Tavistock Banqueting. When he took the reins, he quickly expanded it by selling luxury goods to American tourists, and also owned West End club the Hanover Grand, where he gave Robert Earl his first job and The Nolans.[5] He later sold the business in 1979 to make his initial wealth. He has previously stated he has no affiliation to east end gang Bloodshedders from Bow.

Currency tradingEdit

After selling the family business in the late 1970s, Lewis moved into currency trading in the 1980s and 1990s, resulting in his move to the Bahamas where he is now a tax exile.[5] In September 1992, Lewis teamed up with George Soros to bet on the pound crashing out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. The event, which was dubbed Black Wednesday, made Lewis very wealthy, and some say he made more than Soros.[6][7] Lewis is still an active FX trader.[8]

Tavistock GroupEdit

Lewis is the main investor in Tavistock Group, which owns more than 200 companies in 15 countries. Tavistock Group's portfolio includes:


Lewis hosts the Tavistock Cup tournament every March in Florida, raising millions of dollars for charity, and owns three of the four clubs that compete: Albany, Lake Nona Golf & Country Club and Isleworth Golf & Country Club. Lewis built a golf community in the Bahamas called Albany, which opened October 2010. Woods and Els are also major shareholders in the luxury resort community located in New Providence. Lewis made a £70 million investment in Bulgarian property development.[9]

Lake Nona Medical CityEdit

Lewis seeded Lake Nona, covering 7,000 acres next to Orlando’s international airport, with $100 million in gifts and land which was cultivated into a large-scale community offering research and educational facilities, hospitals for veterans and children, a town center, and a range of workspaces and residential options.[10]

Escondido Lake and controversyEdit

Since Lewis bought a property in Río Negro Province, Argentina, public access to Escondido lake has been under discussion. The Argentine law asserts that every water course is public and of free access.[11] In 2009 Lewis was ordered by the Superior Tribunal de Justicia (STJ) to create and keep access to the lake, with "sufficient signage and to keep it transitable", but the ruling has not been enforced. Lewis' frontman Van Ditmer stated: "We are going to defend the private property with the Winchester in the hands; with blood if needed".[12]

Lewis' property encircles the lake. While some have called for another public mountain trail to be built to access the lake, El Consejo de Ecología y Medio Ambiente de Río Negro (the Council of Ecology and Environment of Río Negro) does not support building another pass, which would cause harm to the environmentally protected area.

He is currently planning to use a huge protected area, 4 times the size of the city of Buenos Aires, for another private development, against the wishes of the locals. The property was bought for 69 pesos per hectare, currently about $4 USD. This low price was secured by using the name of a local 'poblador' on the deed, after which it was transferred to him. It is suggested that the Hidden Lake property is needed to supply water and (hydraulic) energy to this new property, dubbed the private state in Patagonia. In January 2017, new mass protests have started in El Bolson against this project.[12][13]

Bear StearnsEdit

On 10 September 2007, Lewis paid US$860.4 million in an all-cash purchase of a 7% stake in Bear Stearns.[14] By December 2007 Lewis had raised his stake at the brokerage firm to 9.4%, a total of 11 million shares, for which he paid an average price of $107 apiece.[15] After the purchase of Bear Stearns by JP Morgan for $10 a share, it was estimated that Lewis lost $1.16 billion on his investment.[5][16][17]

Mitchells & ButlersEdit

Lewis is the largest shareholder in the British public house group Mitchells & Butlers, controlling 26.85% of the issued share capital through his investment vehicle Piedmont, which he built up since 2008.[18][19] It was reported on 27 August 2011 that Lewis had made a zero premium proposal for the pub group of 224p a share. He later revealed on 12 September 2011 that he was considering raising his earlier offer to 230p a share, a 4.5% premium. However, independent M&B board members rejected the offer as "significantly undervaluing" the business.

Personal lifeEdit

Lewis has been married twice. His first marriage to Esther Browne ended in divorce. They had two children:

  • Vivienne Lewis Silverton is seen as his "heir"[5] and serves on Tavistock's board of directors.[20][21] She is divorced from Toby Silverton, the former chairman of Bristol Cars, once fully owned by Tavistock.[22][23][24]
  • Charles Lewis lives in Argentina[5]

Joe Lewis is now married to Jane Lewis.[5]

Lewis owns the superyacht Aviva, which he uses as his personal mobile office.

Art collectionEdit

Lewis' art collection, estimated to be worth $1 billion, includes works by Picasso, Matisse, Lucian Freud and sculptor Henry Moore.[8] Lewis bought Francis Bacon's Triptych 1974–1977 in 2008 for £26.3 million,[25] then a record for postwar artwork bought in Europe.[26]


  1. ^ "Joe Lewis". 
  2. ^ "Joe Lewis". Forbes. Retrieved 18 February 2017. 
  3. ^ European Jewish Press: "Jewish businessmen prominent in British 'Rich List'" Archived 14 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine. 24 April 2006
  4. ^ Wall Street Journal: "Star of David, For Entertainment Only" 11 November 2012
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Luscombe, Richard and Teather, David. "The East Ender who blew a billion dollars in a day", The Guardian, 22 March 2008. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
  6. ^ Bowers, Simon. "Profile: Joe Lewis", The Guardian, 14 September 2007.
  7. ^ "Billionaires: March 2011 - Profile: Joe Lewis". Forbes. 
  8. ^ a b "World's Billionaires 2013". Forbes. 4 March 2013. 
  9. ^ Jenny Davey (27 September 2007). "Joe Lewis takes aim at Bulgaria". London: The Sunday Times. Retrieved 14 March 2008. 
  10. ^ "Orlando's Newest Attraction Is Medical". New York Times. 7 September 2010. 
  11. ^ ¿Quién es Joe Lewis, el magnate dueño de Lago Escondido?, Clarín, 26 March 2016.
  12. ^ a b "Joe Lewis, el verdadero patrón del mal de la Patagonia". 
  13. ^ "Día histórico en El Bolsón: Más de 15 mil personas marcharon contra el loteo de Joe Lewis". 
  14. ^ "Bear Stearns Gains on Speculation About Stake Sale (Update5)". Bloomberg. 26 September 2007. 
  15. ^ "Lewis, Barrow Hanley Lose Combined $2 Billion on Bear (Update2)". Bloomberg. 17 March 2008. 
  16. ^ Bryan-Low, Cassell (17 March 2008). "A Stake Through the Heart". The Wall Street Journal. 
  17. ^ "Joseph Lewis: "I Lost $1 Billion in Bear Stearns"". 
  18. ^ Jenny Davey (18 September 2011). "Mitchells & Butlers: the giant pub company with no one to call 'time'". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 24 September 2011. 
  19. ^ The Jewish Chronicle: "Joe Lewis still has that midas touch" by Alex Brummer 10 June 2010
  20. ^ Tavistock Website: Board of Directors retrieved 8 September 2012
  22. ^ Britol Cars: "The end of the second era - 1997-2011" Archived 10 March 2013 at the Wayback Machine. retrieved 31 December 2012
  23. ^ New York Times: "Bristol Cars: Exclusive Anonymity" By NICK KURCZEWSKI 11 February 2008
  24. ^ This Is Bristol: "Bristol Cars - Memorable Motors" by Gerry Brook 8 December 2009
  25. ^ Brown, Mark. "What recession? Bacon sells for £26.3m". The Guardian, 8 February 2008. Retrieved on 20 June 2010.
  26. ^ Thornton, Sarah. "Francis Bacon claims his place at the top of the market". The Art Newspaper, 29 August 2008. Retrieved on 10 June 2010.

External linksEdit