When the Preston-born hedge fund billionaire Michael Platt was asked by a New York taxi driver what he did for a living, he replied: “I’m the highest-earning person in the world of finance.” The 2019 exchange was recorded and went viral, says Lucy Burton in The Daily Telegraph – the usually media-shy Platt had to clarify the video was “a joke following a good bottle of wine with a friend”. But the 53-year-old investor, who’s now worth $12.5bn and is the third-wealthiest Brit, was only slightly exaggerating: he had just been ranked second in Forbes’ list of top-earning hedge fund managers.
Little else is known about Platt – some big UK financiers admit “they haven’t even heard of him”. His firm, BlueCrest, has a website that doesn’t load properly and an office number that isn’t answered. But it has no clients to impress: in 2015, the firm handed back the billions of dollars it managed on other people’s behalf to focus on its own assets. Platt says he’s been “addicted” to trading since he bet £500 on a shipping line aged 14 and got back £1,500. His other addiction is art: one of his investments is the visual artist Paul Fryer’s A Privilege of Dominion, which consists of a life-size wax gorilla nailed to a wooden cross.