David Barclay, Reclusive British Business Mogul, Dies at 86

With his twin brother, Frederick, he built a media and business empire that included the Ritz Hotel in London and The Daily Telegraph.

By Eshe Nelson

David Barclay, a British billionaire who with his twin brother, Frederick, built a media and business empire that includes the influential conservative newspaper The Daily Telegraph, died on Sunday. He was 86.

The Telegraph reported his death, saying it came unexpectedly after a short illness, but did not specify the cause or say where he died.

David and Frederick Barclay, identical twins, overcame a harsh childhood during World War II and left school at 14 before going on to establish a vast portfolio of companies and seven billion pounds (about $9.6 billion) in wealth, according to The Sunday Times Rich List.

For decades the brothers lived and worked together, owning, among other things, the conservative magazine The Spectator, the delivery company Yodel, the online retailer the Very Group and, for 25 years, the five-star Ritz Hotel in London.

Despite owning several publications, the brothers tried to keep out of the media spotlight.

“Privacy is a valuable commodity,” David Barclay reportedly once said. But that privacy was shattered last year by a succession drama.

A family fight over the inheritance of the business empire and the sale of the Ritz burst into public view in a court case when Mr. Barclay’s sons were caught spying on their uncle Frederick and his daughter, fraying the relationship between the brothers.

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