Secret millionaire to stand for Tories in council elections

HERE’S a guy that would make filling the politics section of the New Journal each week easy if he was elected in next month’s council elections. But then art collector Ivan Massow, once, a long time ago, in the mix as a possible Tory mayoral candidate, would have to buck the trend of Camden’s lifetime to land a Conservative win in the King’s Cross ward – the home constituency of council leader Sarah Hayward and a Labour fortress.

The name should be familiar: Massow was one of the secret millionaires who went undercover for Channel 4’s lauded documentary, living on a sink estate in the north of England while those around him had no clue of his real fortune. The show ends with him making donations to those who had touched him with their spirit and hard grind. His wealth had grown from an insurance company set up in his 20s. The story goes that it – it, being a financial advisory service aimed at gay men – had begun life in a squat in Kentish Town. 

He graduated from that life and made his millions in tandem with an interest in Conservative politics, before cropping up on television screens and starring alongside Joan Collins, with whom he is pictured below alongside Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, in the bizarre Banksy’s Coming To Dinner programme, also a Channel 4 concoction. He also appeared in a Derren Brown stunt in which the showman convinces a group of elderly people to steal one of his paintings.

In 2000, he did have a wobble with the Tories and sort of defected to Labour. There are pictures of him facing the press with Mo Mowlam but Massow later said that discussions with Labour had not advanced much further than a single meeting. Steven Norris, who had clipped him for the mayoral candidacy, warned then: “Here is a chap who also is a Master of Foxhounds – I wonder how that is going to play with some of his friends in the Labour Party.”

Sure enough, Massow did return to the fold and his name appears on the local candidate list unveiled last week. 

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