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Jewish brothers top Britain’s 2016 Rich List

David and Simon Reuben, Indian-born property investors, are first in UK Sunday Times’ annual ranking

Simon Reuben and David Reuben (Courtesy)
Simon Reuben and David Reuben (Courtesy)

Two Indian-born Jewish brothers were named Sunday as the richest people in Britain.

David and Simon Reuben, aged 77 and 74, topped The Sunday Times’ annual Rich List, with their assets estimated at £13.1 billion ($18.9 billion). The brothers had placed fifth in the 2015 list.

Mumbai-born British citizens from a family with Iraqi origins, the brothers’ wealth stems mainly from “lucrative property deals,” following their initial investments in the Russian metals market, the newspaper said. They hit the top spot with solid returns from assets such as London’s Millbank Tower, the John Lewis Partnership HQ in Victoria and shops in Sloane Street, said the Sunday Times.

The brothers moved to the UK in the early 1950s when their family settled in London. Extremely media-shy, they avoid newspaper interviewers. According to a 2004 Observer profile, David started out as a metal trader, while Simon entered the carpet business, before they moved into property.

Roman Abramovich (photo credit: CC-BY-Mark Freeman, Wikimedia Commons)
Roman Abramovich (CC-BY-Mark Freeman, Wikimedia Commons)

They were drawn into the headlines in 2006 when, in a dispute over a planned facility for the 2012 London Olympics, Ken Livingstone, then the mayor of London, told them to “go back to Iran and try their luck with the ayatollahs.” Asked to apologize — for the insult, and for misidentifying them as Iranian — Livingstone said, “I would offer a complete apology to the people of Iran to the suggestion that they may be linked in any way to the Reuben brothers. I wasn’t meaning to be offensive to the people of Iran.”

Third on the annual UK Sunday Times rich list (paywall) is another Jewish investor, Odessa-born Leonard Blavatnik. Other Jews in the top 25 include Russian oligarch and Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich (13) and South African-born businessman Nathan Kirsh (21). De Beers Diamonds’ Nicky Oppenheimer (18) was born to a Jewish father but is Anglican.

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