Scot Young was an entrepreneur who had lived a luxurious but hitherto very private lifestyle, with homes in London and Florida, yachting holidays, fine dining and presidential hotel suites. His private life became the subject of public interest as a result of the acrimonious divorce case which began in 2006, when he separated from his wife Michelle, who claimed £300 million as a financial settlement. He was declared bankrupt in 2010, a result, he said, of property deals that had gone wrong and left him £28 million in debt.
Over the last eight years he had fought a bitter legal battle with his former wife. In 2009 he was given a suspended jail sentence for refusing to co-operate with the court’s efforts to determine his true wealth. Early last year he received a six-month sentence for contempt of court after again failing to reveal the whereabouts of his alleged fortune. The judge, Mr Justice Moor, spoke of Young’s “flagrant and deliberate contempt”, while Young said that he had “done everything in my power” to provide the necessary information. Lawyers representing his wife argued that Young had given the high court the “runaround” and should be committed to prison.
Michelle Young had reckoned his wealth as being “a few billion at least” and had sought £300 million. Court papers show that between 2004 and 2006 he had owned a property portfolio valued at some £60 million. During 2011 the courts ordered Young to pay £27,500 per month maintenance to Michelle. However, he had not complied with that order.
In November last year during another court appearance, at which Young represented himself, Mr Justice Moor concluded that he was “not a penniless man of straw” and estimated his net worth at £45 million. He awarded Michelle Young £20 million plus legal costs.
She conveyed her disgust outside the courtroom, saying, “It’s disgraceful. I stand by what I said. He’s worth billions” and referring to “a desperate struggle for me and my daughters”. In a subsequent interview she spoke of her quest for legal changes to help herself and others in a similar situation: “I don’t want to go through all this for nothing, I want to see the law changed to protect women like me with children by men who conveniently find they suddenly have no assets when they want to go off with a younger woman.”
Despite the court settlement, to date she had not received anything from Young. He had steadfastly maintained that he was penniless, following the collapse of a financial deal code-named Project Moscow. Court documents show that he had suffered health problems because of the ongoing legal case and that as a result he had been unable to work.
Scot Young was born in 1962 in Dundee, the son of the former footballer Duncan Young, who played full-back for Dundee United in the late 1950s. Scot met Michelle in 1988 and borrowed money from her father to invest in a variety of business ventures involving payment processing and telecommunications. The couple married in 1995.
By 2006 he had accumulated a vast property portfolio, including properties at various times in Oxford, Egham, Belgravia and Florida. From modest working-class beginnings he had grown to enjoy the trappings of wealth and had spent lavishly on himself and his wife. On one occasion he bought her a Range-Rover filled to the roof with couture dresses, and for her 40th birthday she received a £1 million necklace.
But Young claimed that at this point he was facing what he called “financial meltdown”, having overstretched his investments in the company EU Smart, which subsequently went into administration. Research by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists revealed a complex web of stock holdings, offshore companies and trusts. Working with the Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky (Independent obituary, 24 March 2013) he had constructed a network of companies to conceal his assets during the divorce battle.
He was latterly engaged to the American former model, and reality television personality, Noelle Reno, who recently encouraged him to take part in the show in which she appears, Ladies of London. “He is a very private person”, she said at the time. “You’ll see on the show that he hates the cameras. Scot has spent his whole life paying people to keep him out of the press.” They had recently moved to a flat in Montagu Square, Marylebone, which Reno said would be a “happy little home for our happy little life.”
Young was found impaled on railings outside the flat. Police indicated that he had fallen 20 metres from a fourth-floor window and said in a statement: “A man, believed aged in his early 50s, was pronounced dead at the scene. The death is not being treated as suspicious at this time.”
Scot Young: entrepreneur: born Dundee 10 January 1962; married 1995 Michelle (marriage dissolved; two daughters); partner to Noelle Reno; died London 8 December 2014.