The Essex Rich List 2021

Stacks of ascending UK one pound coins with individual coins balanced on top.

Have the richest people in Essex added to their fortune or lost out during the pandemic? - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Words by Lily Floyd

For years it seemed that the richest people in the county were continually adding to their wealth, but with the arrival of the pandemic in early 2020, there has been a levelling of the playing field. Some have thrived, while others have felt the effects of lockdowns and restrictions. Essex, as well as the rest of the country, is going through a period of seismic change. The wealthiest among us are either reaping the rewards or hustling to stay on top. We share an insight into the top five richest people in the county, what they’re worth and how they made their fortune. Next year, it could be a completely different story...  

The Essex Life Rich List is based on estimates of wealth of people who were born, have lived in or have strong links to the county 

1. Jon Hunt 2021: £1.345bn  

It seems the founder of the estate agency, Foxtons, is still at the top when it comes to the richest person in Essex. Despite his significant success in the past year, he fell from #111 to #126 place in The Sunday Times Rich List 2021.  

According to the paper, the property tycoon has increased his mammoth fortune by £45 million to £1.345 billion during the pandemic. Impressive considering how many businesses have crashed and burned, but he still felt the pinch in the previous year when Covid 19 took £100m off the Colchester entrepreneur’s wealth. Leaving school at 16 to follow his father’s footsteps into the army, Jon has demonstrated you can achieve your dreams without a degree.  

After he quit the military, he spent some time travelling, and on his return, he found work as an estate agent, before co-founding Foxtons in 1981 at the age of 28. You could say perfect timing because in 2007 the 67-year-old sold Foxtons for £375m to a private equity firm BC Partners. Now, his portfolio boasts an abundance of significant assets, including the Pavilion, the business members chain in SW London, and Heveningham Hall in Suffolk. 

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2. Mark Dixon 2021: £1.437bn 

Moving on up on the Sunday Times Rich List 2021 from position #183 to #116 is Danbury-born Mark Dixon. One of the billionaires who thrived during the pandemic increased his fortune by £667m.The 61-year-old spends most of his time living in Monaco, a far cry from his school days at Rainsford Comprehensive High School selling peat from a wheelbarrow.  

After leaving school at 16, he founded Dial-a-Snack in 1976, a sandwich-making business that sold packed lunches to Chelmsford offices. After this failed, he travelled the world, doing various jobs then returned to his Essex roots to attempt his entrepreneurial skills once again. This time, he invested in a £600 burger van on London’s North Circular Road.  

Moving forward to 2021, he is now the owner of one of the world’s largest office companies, Regus, which was renamed in 2016, International Workplace Group (IWG Place). The son of a Ford car mechanic, Mark has many other assets to be proud of, including the Chateau de Berne vineyard in Provence.  

3. Lord Alan Sugar 2021: £1.2bn 

Ranked at #138 on The Sunday Times Rich List 2021, self-made billionaire Lord Alan Sugar is perhaps one of the UK’s most celebrated businessmen. Straight shooting as they come, we have seen him on The Apprentice, the award-winning Bafta BBC reality series, which will be returning to our screens in early 2022. The show that turned the British magnet into a household name has come a long way since leaving school in Hackney aged 16.  

It all began for the former chairman of Tottenham Hotspur FC by selling car aerials and electric goods out of his van he bought for around £50. Aged 21, he founded Amstrad, a British electronics company and in 2007 he sold his remaining Amstrad empire in a deal to BSkyB (Sky) for £125m.  

Recently, in the 60 Minute Australia TV show, he was asked when his entrepreneurial streak kicked in, he said, ‘around 11 to 12-years-old.’ 

In 2000, he was knighted for his services to business and holds two honorary Doctorates of Science degrees. Lord Sugar lives with his wife, Ann Simons in Chigwell and has two sons and one daughter. He is a philanthropist for a number of charities including Great Ormond Street Hospital and Jewish Care. 

4. David and Jack Sullivan and family 2021: £1.04bn 

The Cardiff-born entrepreneur David and his family's significant wealth is from property, football and media. Even though their fortune may have taken a hit over the last year with a £60m loss, they are still part of the billionaires club.  

According to The Sunday Times Rich List 2021, it has identified a record-breaking 171 UK billionaires – 24 more than in 2020 with The Sullivan’s being part of that list at #162, a drop from their position last year at 135.  

Building his fortune from pornography, sex shops and erotic films, David has invested in other ventures, including various properties and becoming a 51% shareholder of West Ham FC. Keen to start his son Jack off young, he made him the director of West Ham United Women from 2017-21, the youngest executive in English football history. David also owns a 14-bedroom lavish mansion in Theydon Bois, which features two swimming pools and a bowling alley. 

5. Sir Charles Dunstone 2021: £775m 

Still ranking the same spot at #209 in The Sunday Times Rich List 2021, Sir Charles Dunstone has definitely had a year to celebrate. Someone who has largely benefited from the pandemic with a rise of £94m, equating his fortune to £775m. 

The Saffron Walden-born entrepreneur's main fortune comes from technology. It all began for the chairman of TalkTalk Telecom and former chairman of electronics retailer Dixons Carphone when he started working as a sales executive at NEC when he dropped out of university. It was during that time he recognised the potential of cell phones and mobile communication. Driven to this realisation, at 25 years old Charles invested his £6,000 savings and began selling mobile phones from his flat at Marlyebone Road. According to Sky News, Sir Charles ‘sold the last of his stake in Britain's biggest electrical goods and mobile phone retailer, severing a 32-year tie with the business that turned him into one of Britain's most successful entrepreneurs.’ 

He was made a Knight Bachelor in the 2012 Queen’s Birthday Honours List and recognised ‘for his services to the telecoms industry and charity work’.