×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Christopher Skase

Fugitive businessman Christopher Skase, who briefly owned MGM and during the 1980s held Seven Network among other high-profile media properties, died Monday Aug. 6 at age 53 from lung cancer while in exile on the Spanish island Majorca after being on the lam for a decade from Australia, where he was wanted on 60 criminal charges.

Those charges related to the $A1.5 billion ($750 million) collapse in 1989 of his Qintex media and Mirage Resorts empire.

The Melbourne-born former financial journalist and stockbroker acquired the Seven Network during the 1980s. With socialite wife Pixie, he became as famous for flamboyant parties and lifestyle as he was for business acquisitions.

In 1980s style, he bankrolled expansion through extensive loans and in just a few short years controlled 51% of Hawaii’s Princeville Resort, 51% of Queensland’s two Mirage resorts and Queensland’s Sunshine TV Network. Then in 1989 a $750 million bid for MGM/UA unraveled when Skase defaulted on the first $25 million payment. His empire began to crumble, and the watchdog Australian Securities Commission commenced investigations into his business dealings — including his $20 million management fees.

Lawrence van der Plaat, a former Skase aide and boyfriend to one of Pixie’s four daughters, has since alleged to the ASC how the entrepreneur siphoned money and stole lavish furnishings from Quintex before his escape to Spain. Authorities have been unsuccessful in recovering any money or firmly tracing it to Skase, who publicly maintained that he lived a simple life in Spain at the behest of generous friends.

Skase was, however, credited with reversing the fortunes of a then-ailing Network Seven, now Australia’s close-ranked second web. He reacquired rights to AFL football and kick-started teen soap “Home and Away,” which is still in production. His Mirage resorts are still operating.

But for a decade he avoided extradition from Spain by citing a range of illnesses — bad back, chronic lung complications, diarrhea, even Asian flu. He traveled Majorca in a wheelchair and wore an oxygen mask — but was at various intervals observed swimming and playing tennis — which raised the ire of creditors back home and fueled the Australian government’s determination to pursue his extradition.

More Scene

  • Speaker of the United States House

    Nancy Pelosi, Ava DuVernay Honored at VH1 Trailblazers Event

    Cher is feeling a little better about what’s happening in Washington, D.C. “When I see Trump spew his hate and tell his gazillion lies, I get pissed off and feel uneasy at the same time,” the Oscar winner and frequent Trump critic said Wednesday while introducing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at VH1 Trailblazers [...]

  • Karl Lagerfeld'Lagerfeld Confidential' Photocall at the

    Karl Lagerfeld Remembered at Costume Designers Guild Awards

    The death of fashion and costume designer Karl Lagerfeld cast somewhat of a shadow over the usually jubilant Costume Designers Guild Awards — the only award show where clothes literally steal the spotlight away from actors — which was held at the Beverly Hilton on Tuesday night. Here it was obvious that Lagerfeld’s impact on [...]

  • Kate Bosworth'Nona' film premiere, New York,

    Kate Bosworth Helps Launch Campaign for Female Filmmakers

    In her 20-year career in Hollywood, Kate Bosworth has starred in blockbusters like “Superman Returns” as well as indie darlings like 2014’s “Still Alice.” But the actress has always had a desire to get more involved from the ground up. Now, she is partnering with Women In Film and Chloe Wine Collection to launch the [...]

  • Amandla Stenberg and Sofia CarsonVanity Fair

    Oscar Week Kicks Off With Vanity Fair's New Hollywood Party

    The night was definitely still young Tuesday at Vanity Fair’s New Hollywood party in Los Angeles. The magazine kicked off Oscar week with a party — the first of its three-event Campaign Hollywood series — at Ysabel in West Hollywood to celebrate new and emerging talent. Co-hosted by Yalitza Aparicio, Henry Golding and Amandla Stenberg [...]

  • Oscars Ultimate Party Guide

    Oscars Ultimate Party Guide 2019

    Welcome to Oscar week. It’s the time of year when Hollywood’s film industry celebrates all things movies. But it’s certainly not just the big show everyone is looking forward to. With voting closed, it’s all about the parties now. Who’s doing what and where and when are they doing it are the questions everyone is [...]

  • Yalitza AparicioTeen Vogue Young Hollywood Party,

    'Roma' Star Yalitza Aparicio, 'Central Park Five's' Jharrel Jerome Sound Off on Trump

    Yalitza Aparicio recently reunited with Alfonso Cuarón, who directed her in “Roma,” for a W magazine photo project that featured her standing at various barriers built at the border between Mexico and the United States. The message? “You can make a name for yourself despite the differences,” Aparicio told Variety on Friday at Teen Vogue’s Young [...]

  • Karl LagerfeldChanel Paris-Londres 2007/8 Show, London,

    Legendary Fashion Designer Karl Lagerfeld Dies at 85

    Karl Lagerfeld, the fashion icon – and iconoclast – who outfitted and photographed such stars as Nicole Kidman and Lady Gaga, has died. He was 85. Lagerfeld died in Paris, fashion house Chanel said. Although his health had been failing, he kept working up to his death, issuing instructions regarding Fendi’s fall ready-to-wear collection, which [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content