But this former slum landlord has always thought big. He bought his first property, in the Bahamas, at the age of 16 with money he made from selling his stamp collection. By 23, he was a millionaire, with 350 properties in Sussex alone. Hamilton Palace, nearing completion on his High Cross Estate, is intended to be the largest and most expensive private home built in Britain this century. It will include a vast mausoleum to house his remains and a 600ft-long art gallery.
Van Hoogstraaten, who owns homes in Cannes, Monte Carlo, Maryland and Florida, already has a place in the Guinness Book of Records. In 1981 he received a tax demand for pounds 5.4 million, the largest ever issued by the Inland Revenue. The public will never be allowed into Hamilton Palace, he has said. After his death, the building will be sealed forever. He explained: "The only purpose in creating great wealth like mine is to separate oneself from the riff-raff."Reuse content