Richard Desmond was displeased with proposed coverage of his birthday bash in OK! (prop: Richard Desmond). The magazine eventually went to press with 21 snaps of him embracing such as Lulu and Sven-GÅ¡ran Eriksson.
He must find it some consolation that this week’s Sunday Express (prop: Richard Desmond) proclaims him "now the country’s wealthiest publisher". Five pages of the paper’s Rich List pullout laud and magnify the boss. Would it not be better entitled the Richard List?
On page two, he is the eighth richest person in Britain. On three, "the billionaire league is joined for the first time by publisher Richard Desmond". On five, he is worth £1.2bn. On 35, he ranks second among The Top 10 Risers, his wealth said to have increased over the year by £510m.
On 45, The Top Earners list is extended to include him at 22nd, with an annual income of £12.3m. He does not figure among The Top 10 Royals, of whom nine are non-royal dukes, marquesses and earls. And not even the poor Queen can touch his £1.2bn.
Where does that fabulous figure come from anyway? Well, the Richard List calculates that, since the market value of public media companies currently averages 20 times stated earnings, the same goes for private media companies.
How true that is for Desmond we can only surmise, unless and until he floats on the Stock Exchange.
Indeed, would he rate as wealthiest UK publisher in a Rich List which (unlike the Richard List) managed to include Rupert Murdoch, Lord Black and Sir Tony O’Reilly?
Declaring yourself top banana is not all that impressive if you disqualify the publishers of The Sun, News of the World, Times and Sunday Times; Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People; the two Telegraphs and the two Independents.
How Desmond must lament that the Mail group’s present chief cannot be excluded as a Paris-domiciled tax exile, like his father. Instead, Desmond contrives to demote Jonathan Rothermere to 85th, assessing his worth at a bare £300m.
The Richard List avoids any reference to the top-shelf mags that are the foundation of the Desmond empire. He chooses not to mention his goldmine Fantasy TV channel, home of Jane’s Big Jugs Jamboree, Peeping Tom and Inside Jill Kelly.
Robert Maxwell had seemed in no danger of losing his crown as the most unashamedly self-promoting press proprietor of our time. But not any more.
The ego has landed.