I inherited a fortune and then frittered it all away - Life and Style - The Independent

I inherited a fortune and then frittered it all away

Graham Roos knew that he was in for a windfall. But when he got it, he blew it

MY GREAT aunt inherited a fortune when her rich fiance died, and I always knew that I would inherit part of it from her. I wasn't told how much but I knew that it would be a substantial amount.

My parents weren't rich. My dad is working class and ironically he too gained a fortune when he won the pools in the Fifties, but lost the money through a bad investment. My mother saw the inheritance more as a curse than a blessing and said that it had never brought anyone any happiness. However, I had a taste for the high life from an early age: as a child I wanted to live in a palace with banquets and sorcerers.

My great aunt was a very grand woman who reminded me of the Duchess of Windsor, with all her elegant clothes and jewels. When I began to rebel, she threatened to cut me out of her will unless I toed the line, so I rebelled all the more. Perhaps I was too extreme: I had a weird look, weird music, weird interests, black hair one day, red hair the next. I was an eccentric with extravagant tastes.

I went to university to study history and when I left I had a number of good jobs but never stuck at them because I knew that I was soon going to be rich.

Two years ago, when I was 26, my aunt died and I inherited about a third of a million, much more than I'd expected. My reaction was to start spending it on a grand scale, having all the fun that my great aunt had failed to have.

I stopped working and basically frittered the money away on a ''sex and drugs and rock'n'roll'' lifestyle. I spent it on flashy Concorde trips, a private jet, a flat and lots of smart, posh holidays. I bought works of art and antiquities, I blew a lot on cocaine, and I had huge, expensive parties. I'd take out pounds 2,000 on a Friday and would have none left by the Monday. The partying got more and more frantic as time went on. It was a life of sensation seeking. I wanted to taste and experience the vast spectrum of life.

I was naive when I inherited the money but I've been on a huge learning curve since. At the time, my ego was massaged because I couldn't distinguish between the people who genuinely liked me and those who thought, ''let's help this fool get rid of some of his money''. I thought it was never going to run out and inevitably I got ripped off. I started off feeling like a star and ended up as a bit of a prat.

I was surprised by how quickly I spent it all. Towards the end I began to ask myself what I was doing. I was taking a lot of drugs and leading a very decadent life. I got very paranoid and didn't know who my real friends were. I realised that if I continued, it was a lifestyle that would destroy me.

I had a strange moment after I came back from Jerusalem. I was very interested in the occult and mysticism and I thought that money could buy spiritual awareness. I tried to put a Gnostic magic mirror up on the wall but it fell to the floor and smashed. From that moment, everything started to go wrong. I lost all the money I had saved through a bad investment. A lecturing job I'd been banking on fell through, so did a potential love affair, and I was robbed and hadn't bothered to keep up my insurance.

I suddenly felt spiritually kicked in the arse for taking everything for granted. I saw myself as decadent and felt very ashamed and very humble.

By now I was at my wits end and in debt, with bills mounting up, and I was forced to take a job in a launderette. It took me five months to pick up my self esteem and realise who I was and what I'd been through. Ten months later, I've learned my lesson, paid my penance and now I'm being rewarded again, but with proper things.

I don't regret what happened because I've learned so much. Now the essential things in life for me are home, love, food, and money for bills. I'm still in touch with my parents - my father never judged me and my mother told me that she knew I'd waste the money, although she had hoped that she would never have to worry about me ever again.

I did buy a lottery ticket, rather hoping that I would win because this time round I'd know what to do with it. I'd share it out, set up charities and find out where it would be most useful. But in spite of my own experience, I was pleased that the lottery winners were ordinary people. If the money had been won by an MP, a rich business man or a lord, I think they would have been morally obliged to give the money back to the people.

(Photograph omitted)

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