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Richard Caring

Date of Birth: Wednesday, June 04, 1952
AGE: 65
Occupation: Businessman

Biography: An English billionaire of American, Italian and Jewish descent, who made his fortune in fashion, and latterly property and restaurants.

Having made his fortune through supplying Hong Kong manufactured fashion, after a near-death experience during the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, he has greatly diversified his business interest into restaurants and nightclubs, and increased his charitable contributions. Caring is ranked number 146 on the 2009 Sunday Times Rich List, however he has been quoted in several publications stating he has a fortune in excess of £1.5bn.

Richard Caring is the middle child of three children born to Louis Caringi, an Italian-American GI stationed in London during World War II, and Sylvia Parnes, the married Jewish-immigrant Jewish nurse who met him in the ambulance on his way to hospital, and cared for him during his recovery. After deciding to stay in London post war, the couple married. Caringi anglicized his surname and set up in the clothing industry in offices off Great Portland Street, north of Oxford Street. Louis Caring Originals sourced knitwear for retailers including Marks & Spencer.

Richard was brought up in Finchley, North London, and enjoyed playing Monopoly. His sporting prowess at golf playing off of scratch, resulted in him representing Middlesex at county-level, and being accepted into Millfield School in Somerset on a 10-shilling-a-week sporting scholarship.

After recognising his talent at golf was not sufficient to make an income, Caring left Millfield aged 16 and joined a shopping centre development company as an office boy:

My parents thought it important I got practical work experience - they weren?t bothered about university. I understand the thought process, "Let?s throw him into work." But looking back, I would very much have liked to go to university. You get a much broader mindset.

However, the family business was in trouble. In the designer-led 1960s, Caring?s father didn?t understand fashion, and the resulting losses in the business threatened losing the family home. At the time, Louis Caring Originals had become a dress manufacturer that employed seven people. Caring had a girlfriend at the Royal College of Art, with whom he ran up a range of mini-skirts, selling them for 69s 6d (£3.475 in decimalisation), that cost us £2 to make. With an initial target was 200 a week, after a few years they were selling 25,000 a week.

In 1971 Caring first visited Hong Kong, where labour and materials were far cheaper than in Britain. Until this point, Hong Kong made basic clothing cheaply, such as underpants. Spending a year living out of a suitcase and resident in one hotel, Caring educated local manufacturers through producing the same garment over and over again to get the quality right. Resultantly one of the first western high fashion buyers to develop localised Chinese relationships, he returned to the UK to sell the new high quality but cheaper garments to UK retailers.

Forming International Clothing Designs (ICD) to exploit the new opportunity, Caring moved his family permanently to Hong Kong in 1979.

It is proposed by many that Caring first started investing in property while resident in Hong Kong, ploughing back profits from clothing sourcing into other assets. His first UK publicised deal was the £40m purchase of a large part of the Camden Market complex in 2004.

Later that same year, his friend Elliott Bernard called him to see whether, as an avid golfer, he might be interested in buying Wentworth Golf Club. In partnership with then minority shareholder, airport hotel entrepreneur Surinder Arora, the pair paid £130m, £50m more than the club?s book value at the time.

In 2004 over the Christmas period, Caring and his sons were scuba diving in the Maldives. On Boxing Day, the dive-master suggested they sail to an atoll and dive nearby. Anchored on the northside of the atoll, they dived to 100 feet (30 m) for 45 minutes. On their return to the surface, Caring received calls from friends around the world asking: "Are you all right?"

Protected by the atoll, the divers had "felt a blip, but it could have been a big boat." Divers on the southside of the atoll in the path of the tsunami were later found washed-up 100 miles (160 km) away. Sir Philip Green sent his private jet to pick the family up, and Caring donated £1million to the tsunami relief fund.

My two sons nearly drowned with me. After you?ve experienced something like that, you examine things for a couple of hours and think, "I must smell the roses." Did I see the light? No. But it does change the way you think, the way you look at the world.

Caring spotted his future wife, Aldershot-born model Jacqueline Stead, the daughter of a retired British Army major, who was brought up in Shenfield, Essex and attended the Brentwood Ursuline Convent School, at a catwalk show. She gave up modelling three days after the couple met. The couple have two sons, who were raised in Hong Kong: Jamie, a vice-president of MTV Networks Europe; and Ben, who works for Soho House.

The family live in Hampstead, North London, in a house known as the Versailles of London. It has a 55 feet (17 m) ballroom, a cinema, a dining room that seats 30; and a 2 acres (0.0081 km2) garden with a lake. The couple also have homes in Hong Kong, and own the former stables of Pixton Park in Dulverton, on the Somerset/Devon borders.

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