Richard Clive Desmond is an English publisher and businessman. Currently, his net worth is £2.25 billion. He is the owner of Express Newspapers and founder of Northern & Shell, which publishes various celebrity magazines, such as OK! and New! Furthermore, he is also the owner of British national newspapers Daily Star and Daily Express. Making billions of dollars is no easy task. That’s why it always impresses us when someone rises from impoverishment to vast riches. Desmond’s story is interesting because technically his career started at the remarkable age of 3!
Richard Desmond was born on December 8, 1951 in Hampstead, London. He comes from a Jewish family of five and is the youngest of three children. His father, Cyril Desmond, was the managing director of cinema advertising company Pearl & Dean when Richard was a small child. An ear infection caused the sudden loss of Cyril’s hearing. He started bringing three-year-old Richard to business meetings to act as “his ears”. This was inevitably where he first acquired his taste of business dealings and negotiations, according to Richard. The celebrity culture had influenced and affected Cyril in a negative facet, he began to gamble and lost a considerable amount of money. This lead to his divorce and the loss of custody of his son.
Young Richard and his mother, Millie Desmond, moved to an apartment above a garage where they struggled with newfound poverty. At only age 11, Desmond suffered from depression and loneliness. When he was 14 years old, he left school to become a drummer. He got a job at a restaurant in the coat checkroom in order to help pay his bills. A year later, he got a job in the classified ad department of Thomson Newspaper. After moving to another company, he became sales director of Beat Instrumental Magazine at 18. Meanwhile, he continued playing the drums at local bars at nights. Eventually, Desmond was able to pursue music as a career when he opened a record store. By the time he was 21 years old he owned two record stores.
Desmond combined his interest in music and advertising in the mid-1970s and co-founded the International Musician and Recording World magazines, monthly subscriptions for musicians. He was only 22 years old when he accomplished this. The magazine quickly established itself as the best on the market—eventually driving out of business long-established publications such as Beat Instrumental. Before long, Desmond became an early developer of the international licensing of magazines. International Musician was promptly authorized to be published various other countries such as the United States, Australia, Japan, Germany, and the UK.
Concurrently, Desmond’s interest in pornography and the money to be made off of attractive women began to grow. He founded Northern Shell in 1971 which published Penthouse Magazine in the U.K. This was just the first of the many adult titles the company would go on to publish. The nickname “Dirty Desmond” went viral due to the plethora of adult magazines he published. His company published 40 magazines about various popular topics such as fitness, cars, stamps, cooking, and bicycles.
In 2000, Northern and Shell bought Express Newspapers for $187 million which included the Daily and Sunday Express newspapers as well as the Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday. Ok! is the largest celebrity weekly magazine in the world and has 23 separate editions in different countries with a readership of more than 31 million. Not surprisingly, Desmond also publishes this weekly worldwide.
Richard Desmond is a billionaire with a consistently rising publishing empire. With all the riches in the world, Desmond still remains humble. He still plays the drums and is part of a rock band named RD Crusaders which he formed in 2003 with The Who’s Roger Daltrey. The purpose of the band is to raise money for charity. RD Crusaders has raised more than $21 million through a series of fundraising concerts for charities including The Teenage Cancer Trust, Marie Curie, Norwood Child Care, and Evelina Children’s Hospital. He is a huge supporter of children’s charities and financed the construction of the Richard Desmond Children’s Eye Center. It is the world’s largest pediatric eye clinic, treating more than 25,000 children each year.
From garage apartment to one of the richest businessman and publisher in England, Richard Desmond’s rise to great wealth is truly remarkable.