British billionaire and Telegraph co-owner Sir David Barclay dead at 86

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Sir David Barclay — the British billionaire who with his twin brother built a business empire that included ownership of the Telegraph Media Group — has died. He was 86.

The tycoon died unexpectedly on Sunday after a short illness, The Telegraph reported Tuesday.

Working alongside his identical twin Sir Frederick, the younger by 10 minutes, David operated an empire that included shipping, retail and media holdings.

The brothers, who often dressed alike, earned a reputation for avoiding publicity and press scrutiny.

“Privacy is a valuable commodity,” David once reportedly said. “There is no incentive for us to talk about our business affairs.”

In 2020, their wealth was estimated at around $9 billion in The Sunday Times’ “Rich List,” a ranking of the UK’s wealthiest individuals and families.

They were knighted side-by-side in identical purple ties in 2000, for their charity work, with David remarking to reporters at the time: “For us, it’s a wonderful day, according to Forbes.

“It’s a great example of what can be achieved in this country from whatever background or education or humble beginnings,” he said.

Born in 1934 in London, the twins left school at 14, with David often remarking that they were educated in the “University of Life,” according to the Telegraph.

They did stints working as painters and decorators and briefly owned a corner store until it hit financial difficulties.

By 1961, they were established as real estate agents and began buying and trading several properties — eventually purchasing their first major hotel in 1968.

Within the decade, they bought at least 15 more hotels. But after a real estate crash in late 1973 and early 1974, they pivoted to other sectors, and also got into shipping and retail.

The brothers didn’t venture into media until 1992 when they bought the weekly newspaper The European, which had been launched by media baron Robert Maxwell two years earlier. It closed in 1998.

Following spells as owners of at least two other publications, the Barclays bought what is now known as the Telegraph Media Group in 2004, after months of fierce bidding and lawsuits, getting their hands on titles including The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph and The Spectator.

David was first married to model Zoe Newton in 1955, when he was 20 and she was 19, and the pair had three sons, Aidan, Howard and Duncan, before divorcing in the 1980s.

The magnate also had another son, Alistair, from his second marriage to Reyna Oropeza in 1989.

He and his brother were recognized by Queen Elizabeth in 2000 for their support of medical research and children’s charities, via their joint foundation.

More recently, the Barclays had increasingly delegated management of their fortune to David’s sons Aidan and Howard.

Once inseparable, the twins had also been in the midst of a squabble, with Frederick suing David’s sons in February for “breach of confidence, misuse of private information and breach of data protection rights,” according to the Forbes report.

He accused them of secretly recording him and his daughter Amanda while they discussed business at the family-owned Ritz Hotel in London.

At the time of his death, David, a grandfather of nine, had been working on an unpublished memoir, according to the Telegraph.

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