7. (6) Felix Dennis £750m (£750m)
Felix Dennis has been on tour. His nationwide poetry tour entitled “Did I Mention the Free Wine” took up much of the back end of last year, and knowing Felix Dennis’s love of fine French wine, the free wine was probably pretty good.
The tour coincided with the launch of a new book of the eccentric Warwickshire millionaire’s poetry. It’s his fifth book of poetry and has been described as his most personal and revealing yet.
His tour dates included London’s Shaw Theatre, Jongleurs in Edinburgh, Warwick, Stratford, Brighton, Dublin, Cardiff and Windermere. Fans of his poems include Mick Jagger, Stephen Fry, Tom Wolfe, Dawn French and Jon Snow to name but a few.
While all this is going on, Felix Dennis’s publishing empire continues to perform well on both sides of the Atlantic, and also down under. The Week was launched into Australia a few months ago.
While sales of Maxim are down in the UK other magazines are doing well, including The Week, and his men’s fitness and motoring magazines. He has also teamed up with food expert and author Annabelle Kamal for a series of “bookazines”.
Meanwhile his web-based magazines are taking off in a big way, with Monkey, his digital men’s magazine launched early in 2007, breaking all records. Digital magazines iMotor and iGizmo have had promising starts. His motoring magazines, Auto Express and Octane are also performing well, as is Men’s Fitness.
There’s plenty more good news for Felix Dennis, who first came to public attention in 1971 as one of three defendants in the Oz obscenity trials. He was famously cleared on appeal.
The Week continues to grow quickly, breaking circulation records consistently, and is now the UK’s biggest selling subscriber news magazine. Its sister publication The Week in the US – which Felix Dennis shrewdly hung onto despite selling other US titles in 2007 – also does well. The Week contributes around £10 million to Dennis Publishing’s £75 million-plus annual turnover, and is very profitable.
Aged 61, Felix Dennis – who lives on an estate in Warwickshire – is also keen on planting trees – he is endeavouring to create the largest forest in England, dubbed the “Forest of Dennis”. Already some 600,000 saplings have been planted over 1,000 acres and he plans to make it even bigger, with an eventual target of 20,000 acres.
His other interests, apart from being a dedicated smoker, include commissioning bronze sculpture.
He hosts charity events at his Warwickshire home and also owns property in Mustique, New York, London and Connecticut.