Billionaire press baron Richard Desmond explains how he once declined a prostitute based on her price

Oscar Williams-Grut

The FT has just published a great profile of billionaire press baron Richard Desmond, who owns the Daily Express and the Daily Star in the UK.

Among the many interesting tidbits about Desmond within the story is the revelation that he once turned down a prostitute because "he calculated her fee was the equivalent to the profit on a page-and-a-half of advertising."

The story about the notoriously cost-conscious media mogul comes from his upcoming autobiography The Real Deal, released next week.

North London-born Desmond rose from a modest background to become one of the UK's richest people, worth an estimated £1.13 billion ($1.75 billion).

Desmond got his break after securing the licence to publish Penthouse in the UK in the early 1980s and ran a number of pornographic publications and TV channels, with names like "Asian Babes" and "Filth."

In the 1990s he moved into the mainstream media, launching celebrity magazine OK! and in 2000 he bought the Daily Express and Daily Star newspaper. Desmond unsuccessfully made a bid for The Daily Telegraph in the mid-2000s.

Another amusing anecdote from the FT's profile is of the time Desmond met executives from Google. Here's the FT's Henry Mance:

He once met with some Google managers to discuss putting OK! online. “They’re all very smooth, they're all like out of Thunderbirds, and they’ve all got these fantastic sweaters — don’t know where they get them,” he says.

“By the time you have the fourth meeting, the whole deal’s completely fucking changed. They are the biggest gangsters in the world and they get away with it. One thing I’ve got to say about the European Union is that they are giving them a good kicking."

You can read the FT piece in full here.

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