Did Robert Maxwell Kill Himself, Die by Accident or Was he Murdered

Ghislaine Maxwell is no stranger to controversy, criminal activities and disappearance. Her father taught her everything he knew.

Robert Maxwell was a media mogul. At the height of his career, he owned some of the biggest newspapers in the world.

Maxwell had ten children the youngest was Ghislaine. Through her father, the socialite, who was friends with Prince Andrew and Chelsea Clinton, learnt how to deal with a scandal.

At the age, of sixty-eight her father disappeared from his yacht, named the Lady Ghislaine. Weeks later, it was uncovered, that he had stolen £50 million from his employee’s pension fund.

Did he commit suicide to avoid the inevitable, was it a freak accident or was he assassinated by the Israel intelligence agency, Mossad?

Who was Robert Maxwell?

Maxwell was born in 1923 in Czechoslavakia to a Jewish family. He was named Jon Ludvik Hoch. As the Nazi’s invaded Europe, the Hoch family became targets. Maxwell fled at sixteen to France, where he volunteered in the French Legion, before continuing his journey to England. Four of his siblings and both his parents were killed in the holocaust.

Once in England, the young Maxwell lied about his age and joined the British Army. He was enlisted to Normandy during the great battle, where his bravery earned him the military cross. During this time he changed his name to Ian Robert Maxwell. Home from the war, Maxwell briefly joined the foreign office before going into business on his own.

Maxwell started small with exports of scientific materials to the US. In 1951, he saw a larger opportunity and bought a small publishing company that specialised in technical manuals. Pergamon grew and went public in 1964, valued at 3.5 million (29 million in today’s money.)

The first financial scandal

After this, Maxwell won a seat in parliament as a member of the Labour party. Everything was going well for him until he committed his first financial offence.

In 1969, Maxwell sold a 39% share of Pergamon to an American businessman. Shortly after he was accused of misrepresenting the financial records. It appeared the company was not doing as well as everyone thought. He would dispute the claims, but there was enough evidence to oust him from the board. A government inquiry would also remove him from his parliamentary seat.

He is not in our opinion a person who can be relied on to exercise proper stewardship of a publicly quoted company. — British Department of Trade declared in 1971.

Maxwell would have the last laugh as he went on to buy the company back at a profit. He then went on to purchase the British Printing Corporation and the Mirror group newspapers.

Maxwell was in the news as much as he printed it.

With every new acquisition, he fought with the unions as he cut jobs and reduced wages, to maximise profit. It was then the rumours started he could be an Israeli spy, facts he denied. Throughout his life, he was considered a good friend to Israel. Investing in the countries industries such as pharmaceutical and computer firms. Whether this affection went as far as spying for them, has never been proved.

Regardless, Maxwell was on his way to creating a media empire. He invested in many countries, culminating in him buying the New York Daily. Maxwell was riding high, throwing lavish parties and socialising with the height of society. The poor Jewish boy who ran from the Nazi’s had become an icon until the truth was revealed.

Maxwell disappears days before liquidation

In November 1991, Maxwell was aboard his yacht with a small staff team. This in itself was unusual as the yacht usually had a large staff to look after the family. Maxwell received a call from his son to inform him he needed to return to the UK. A meeting with the Bank of England was scheduled, the meeting was to discuss the liquidation of his company. He had recently defaulted on a £50 million loan from Goldman Sachs.

At 5 am the following morning, Maxwell complained that the room was cold. Shortly after this, he walked to the stern of the boat. It was his custom to urinate over the side, it is unclear whether this was why he went to the back of the boat or not. Then by accident, volition or force, he fell into the water, off the Canary Islands, naked. When he failed to answer his phone at 11 am, the alarm was raised. Maxwell was found at 6 pm in the water, the only visible injury was a graze to his left shoulder.

Accident, murder or suicide

Three pathologists examined the body and could not come up with a cause of death. No water was found in his lungs, which ruled out drowning. They finally put a heart attack on the death certificate. It is unclear whether the heart attack occurred in the water or caused him to fall overboard. Much speculation followed, had Maxwell committed suicide knowing that his world was about to crumble. Was it a tragic accident or did Mossad murder him knowing that he was no longer useful to them?

He was a man who could not face the ignominy of jail, of being shown to be a liar and a thief. And he very much knew that was coming. So I am a suicide theorist. I believe Maxwell threw himself off. — Roy Greenslade, a former editor of the Daily Mirror

Many celebrities including the Prime Minister went onto television to state what an amazing man Maxwell was. They were about to regret their words as his empire imploded. Investigations discovered that he had stolen over £50 million from his employees’ pension fund.

His two eldest sons Ian and Kevin were charged with fraud. Most of his holdings went bankrupt to pay the creditors back, the pension fund was never replaced. Both sons escaped prison, in 1996, when they were acquitted of all charges.

It appeared their father acted alone. It has been claimed that Maxwell was an abusive father to all, but Ghislaine. It is possible both boys did not know what was happening or were too frightened to speak up. It is also possible they used their dead father to escape prison time.

The youngest daughter survives

The families lives were shattered and many of them had to seriously downgrade their lifestyle. All except Ghislaine Maxwell who still had a trust fund that reportedly paid her $100000 a year to live off.

With her families reputation in tatters and devastated at the death of her father, Ghislaine moved to New York, where she met Jeffrey Epstein. Here was a man who could keep her moving in the circles she had become used to.

It was the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship. With Mr Epstein, Ms Maxwell was able to resurrect the lifestyle she coveted. — NY Times

Nothing will excuse what Ghislaine Maxwell has done if she is found guilty. Her upbringing and father though had a role to play in her life. Would she have travelled the path she did, had her father not died? Did his disregard for rules and others become something she learnt from him?

Robert Maxwell was a large part of her life and the British culture in the eighties. His actions left many without a retirement fund and facing financial ruin. Whether he died of a freak accident, was murdered or took his own life may never be known.