£500m hendge fund boss claiming taxpayers' cash to furlough staff

EXCLUSIVE: Colourful hedge fund boss Pierre Lagrange is claiming taxpayers’ money to furlough staff at his Savile Row tailor, despite having a personal fortune of £240million

  • Pierre LaGrange, 48, used taxpayers’ hand-outs to pay some of the 65 staff at his upmarket clothes firm, Huntsman
  • The Belgian-born former hedge fund boss, 48, who is famous for his colourful love life, lives in Monaco and has homes in London, New York and Mustique 
  • He was involved in an amicable £160million divorce from the mother of his three children in 2010 after coming out as gay
  • After falling for a flamboyant male fashion designer, he took a former US Presidential aide as his husband
  • Huntsman supplied outfits for Earl Grantham in TV’s Downton Abbey and for the film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  • As well as furloughing staff at Huntsman, it is believed other workers were made redundant last year

Flamboyant tycoon Pierre LaGrange owns Huntsman, the 172 year old clothes retailer 

A multi-millionaire has been claiming public money to furlough staff at his Savile Row tailoring firm.

Belgian-born Pierre LaGrange, who lives in Monaco, London and New York has used taxpayers’ hand-outs to pay some of the 65 staff at his upmarket London company Huntsman, which inspired Matthew Vaughn’s blockbuster Kingsman spy movies.

But former hedge fund boss LaGrange, famous for his colourful love life, and whose estimated worth is around £240m, will face fierce criticism for using the bail-outs from the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme, which lists H Huntsman & Sons Ltd as having claimed in December.

Ironically, in 2019, LaGrange moaned to the Financial Times about Britain’s high taxes compared to 30 years ago, saying: ‘The taxes have risen here dramatically in a way that has killed the economy.

‘Britain was the most competitive place in Europe in attracting talent. It’s lost a lot of that.’

LaGrange paid a record £160m divorce settlement to ex-wife Catherine Anspach after falling in love with a flamboyant male fashion designer and recently took a former US Presidential aide as his husband.

The latest company accounts showed a loss of more than £10.4m for 2019, but also included a statement from LaGrange pledging to continue to support the business – one of the oldest on Savile Row – as a going concern. 

After he split from his former wife Catherine Anspach, Mr LaGrange came out as gay and eventually married former White House adviser Ebs Burnoughtaken in Ibiza, Spain in 2019

When super-rich hedge fund boss Mr Lagrange separated from his wife of 20 years, Catherine Anspach (pictured), in 2010, the split cost him a record-breaking £160 million

As well as furloughing some of its 65 staff, it is believed Huntsman, which supplied outfits for Earl Grantham in TV’s Downton Abbey and for the film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, also made other workers redundant last year.

In 2019, his MD Phil Kirrage said: ‘Since Pierre took the helm at Huntsman, we have run the business with a start-up mindset, taking risks and making investments that will secure the esteemed tailor’s success for the next 170 years.’

LaGrange (pictured), who co-founded GLG Partners, acquiring Huntsman in 2014

Before acquiring Huntsman in 2014, LaGrange co-founded GLG Partners, criticised for short-selling shares in stricken Bradford and Bingley at the height of the banking crisis, and acquired by Man Group in 2010, netting him £340m.

He sold his London mansion alongside Kensington Gardens to Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich for £90m in 2011, having bought it for just £19m seven years earlier.

LaGrange also owns a fabulous five-bedroomed bamboo beach-house on the exclusive Caribbean hideaway of Mustique, which he rents out for up to £30,000 a week. 

Set in acres of ‘lush gardens with unparalled sea views’ the ‘ultimate party house’ also boasts a butler, chef and two housekeepers. 

When Pierre and Catherine, the mother of his three children, split amicably in 2010 after he came out as gay, they marked the occasion by exchanging Ferraris, said to be worth a total of around £450,000.

LaGrange began a relationship with British-born Sudanese fashion designer Roubi L’Roubi. 

LaGrange also owns a fabulous five-bedroomed bamboo beach-house on the exclusive Caribbean hideaway of Mustique (pictured), which he rents out for up to £30,000 a week

LaGrange told the FT: ‘When I realised I was gay I was terrified. It was an extraordinary moment. I was terrified that people would not love me anymore . . . and that people who trust me would not trust me anymore.’

‘I had lived as a straight white successful male, married to a woman I loved and with kids I loved and having just a perfect life.’

He described the transition as ‘nearly overnight’, adding: ‘I was thrilled that aged 48 I had finally admitted to something that I had buried, not knowing what was buried under there.’

In 2019, after the relationship with L’Roubi ended, LaGrange tied the knot with his new boyfriend Ebs Burnough, a former White House aide to President Barack Obama. Naturally, LaGrange wore a Huntsman blazer for the nuptials in Ibiza.

He has regularly invested in movies, and been credited as executive producer onKickass and the Kingsman movies: The Secret Service and its sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

Huntsman, which was honoured with royal warrants by Edward VII and Queen Victoria, supplied outfits for Earl Grantham in Downton Abbey and for the film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

LaGrange now lives with his husband Ebs Burnough between Monaco, London, Hampshire and New York, but it’s not clear in which jurisdiction he pays tax.

In 2019 after becoming the first Savile Row tailor to establish a permanent presence in New York, LaGrange enthused about Huntsman’s traditions.

‘Go down to the shop,’ he told Knightfrank.co.uk, ‘and you’ll see some of what’s there is the same as 100 years ago, and that’s really important. It’s about perfection, process, repeatability and sustainability – doing the same thing again and again but better and better.’ 

A spokesman for Huntsman told MailOnline: ‘As with the other tailors across the Row, Huntsman’s UK business has been dramatically affected by the COVID pandemic with evaporating footfall and significant losses.

After his divorce LaGrange found solace in the exotic form of Sudanese-born fashion stylist Roubi L’Roubi, 51. The former couple were pictured at The Venice Biennale, Venice, in 2011

‘During this unprecedented time, Huntsman has actually elected to keep as many staff as possible working from home, including providing logistical costs for them to do so. While they have furloughed a small number of staff with the Coronavirus Retention Scheme, in fact the government compensation covers less than five per cent of the business losses.

‘In an effort to keep as many staff in place, Mr LaGrange has been carrying significant personal losses to ensure this landmark heritage brand survives the pandemic.’

The spokesman declined to answer questions about where Mr LaGrange pays tax.

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