Profile: Prince of pop money: Financial adviser Prince Rupert Loewenstein is the man who gathers the moss for Rolling Stone Mick Jagger among others. Gail Counsell finds there is more to him than money

 

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The Independent Online
HIS real name is Prince Rupert Ludwig Ferdinand zu Loewenstein-Wertheim-Freudenberg, but associates are wont to refer to him as Rupie the Groupie. Such are the indignities that inevitably accompany the role of financial adviser to the rich and famous - though as one of the purely professional variety, he is at least spared the need to offer poolside services.

At first sight neither name nor nickname seems particularly appropriate. He looks the standard-issue merchant banker he once was, with grey hair, a slightly balding pate and a fleshy, round, pale face. Decades of association with the flamboyant Mick Jagger, the most high-profile of his clutch of showbiz clients, seem to have left him sartorially unmarked, and he sports the unremarkable suit and striped shirt in which fiscal probity automatically resides.

All is not quite as it appears, however. There is evidence of a most unbankerly sense of humour, for example. On the walls of his West End office, rubbing frames with the usual dull prints to be found in such places, hang two raucously vulgar Beryl Cook paintings, hinting at unconventional depths. The fat, pink nude hysterically ensconced on a leopardskin rug makes him chortle wickedly with delight. And it transpires that he can manage a mean line in voice impersonations of acquaintances. As a longstanding friend, the financier Richard Cox Johnson, puts it: 'Rupert is very bright, very funny, very amusing, and very likeable. He's a bit of a showman, a bit extraordinary. He has always lived life at a very high rate.'

A sense of the absurd is presumably useful if you are in the business of managing the affairs of pop stars and their ilk. It is an odd line of work, mopping the brows and tidying the bank accounts of those whose finances involve an unconscionable amount of money. He describes the job as 'a little bit of agent, business manager, accountant all rolled into one'. The essence of doing it well seems to be dealing with the person, not merely their money; the personal touch. 'When I was a broker, clients would ring me up asking me what the best play was on in London and I'd be delighted to oblige,' he recalls.

Client Jagger's recent estrangement from Jerry Hall is presumably top of the list of his current problems. With the rock star's fortune likely to be severely dented by the split, it seems certain that Prince Rupert will be burning the midnight oil, though such subjects are firmly off-limits for discussion. Nevertheless, marital disharmony is an occupational risk for the moneyed classes, and virtually compulsory among the showbiz fraternity, and he has plenty of experience to draw on. Indeed, there is a Golden Rule. 'When families split up you have to make it absolutely clear whose side you are on at once,' he says, tapping the table for emphasis.

Back in the Swinging Sixties, Prince Rupert was one of the Young Turks, out to shake the establishment and make a fortune in the process. Born in Majorca in 1933, he includes among his Bavarian ancestors such luminaries as the Elector Palatine Friedrich I, while his address book is an invaluable collation of the Right Contacts. Brought to England in 1940, he read medieval history at Magdalen College, joined brokers Bache and Co to pick up the City ropes and then ganged up with fellow Oxfordians, Jonathan Guinness and Richard Cox Johnson, as well as Louis Heyman, then with Rothschilds, all of whom were keen to make their fortunes. With the blind self-assuredness of the upper classes, they decided to buy a merchant bank. 'I think we decided that young people plus a small traditional City bank was a combination that made sense,' he reflects. 'These days merchant banking is an utterly different business but at the time it seemed to us a good idea.'

After searching through The Bankers' Almanac they eventually found one they could afford, the old-established firm of Leopold Joseph. Backed by the wealthy Kemsley branch of the Berry family (the ones who owned the Sunday Times, rather than those who were proprietors of the Telegraph) they paid pounds 600,000. 'In those days many wealthy families had their own financial organisations to manage their money,' Prince Rupert observes, adding wistfully: 'These days that's totally impossible of course. It costs too much.'

In 1962, when they acquired it, Leopold Joseph's business was almost entirely centred on the discount market, plus a smattering of trusted family clients. Its somewhat chaotic nature represented a formidable challenge for a bunch of striplings - Rupert was barely 29 years old. 'At first we all worked from one room. The three Joseph brothers, who stayed on with the company for the first few years after we bought the bank, had adjoining desks . . . you could hear them. One would be buying Shell as the other was selling it.'

Modern advances like a central dealing book were instituted, and they set about shifting the bank into corporate finance and lucrative personal client work. Pulling in wealthy clients is a tricky business, but Prince Rupert had listened to the experts. 'Sir Siegmund Warburg's wealthiest and happiest client would go into a meeting with him and leave half an hour later feeling dismal and at bankruptcy's door,' he chuckles.

Prince Rupert's speciality was showbiz clients - in particular, Jagger, whose penchant for mixing it with the nobility is well-recorded. Introduced to the Rolling Stone through the inevitable mutual friend, 'who rang up out of the blue and said their finances were in a mess and could we help', he had, with blimpish charm, never heard of Jagger. Later, and better informed, he embarked on a successful attempt to sort out the pop star's difficulties.

The fact that Jagger is now reputedly worth anything between pounds 50m and pounds 100m is testimony to Rupert's abilities; so too is the fact that 24 years later Jagger is still his client, despite the fact that in 1981 Prince Rupert left the bank to run his own business. At the time Leopold Joseph's client list stretched to around 100 wealthy individuals, of whom Prince Rupert looked after 20 or 30. Half of them stayed with him. Also in tow was Andrew Wilkinson, an accountant and now a joint director and shareholder in Rupert Loewenstein Ltd.

But it is a changing scene. Around two-thirds of his 15 or so clients are 'new money', for example, though he says he rather likes that. 'It's much more interesting than old money. People with old money are nearly always having to be adjusted downwards; those with new money are much more realistic.'

Still, these are tough times for financial advisers. Lloyd's has swept through the ranks of the wealthy like a plague, devastating once healthy bank accounts, while the recession has touched even the very wealthy. Rupert Loewenstein Ltd's latest accounts show after-tax losses of pounds 281,409.

Prince Rupert has two sons, Rudolf and Konrad, one a teacher, the other a student. But, he says, it is his daughter Dora who is the business person. She runs a small public relations company from his offices. But then PR is a contacts business, and contacts run in the family.

(Photograph omitted)

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