The last words of Robert Maxwell were communicated at 4.45am on 5 November 1991 when he contacted the bridge of his luxury yacht to complain about the temperature of his cabin, demanding, in his customary gruff tone, that the crew turn up the air conditioning.
Twelve hours later, a Spanish fisherman spotted his naked body floating in the Atlantic Ocean - 15 miles from his boat.
In the days that followed his death, it emerged there was plenty to trouble Britain's flamboyant media baron.
Ian Robert Maxwell MC (10 June 1923 – 5 November 1991), born Ján Ludvík Hyman Binyamin Hoch, was a British media proprietor, Member of Parliament (MP), and fraudster/thief/spy.
Originally from Czechoslovakia, Maxwell rose from poverty to build an extensive publishing empire. After his conveniently timed death, huge discrepancies in his companies' finances were revealed, including his fraudulent misappropriation of the Mirror Group pension fund. He was often called the bouncing Czech. (hah)
Early in his life, Maxwell, an Orthodox Jew, escaped from Nazi occupation, joined the Czechoslovak Army in exile in World War II and was decorated after active service in the British Army.
In subsequent years he worked in publishing, building up Pergamon Press to a major publishing house. After six years as an MP during the 1960s, he again put all his energy into commerce, successively buying the British Printing Corporation, Mirror Group Newspapers, and Macmillan Publishers, among other publishing companies.
The Lady Ghislaine
Maxwell had a flamboyant lifestyle, living in Headington Hill Hall in Oxford, from which he often flew in his helicopter, and sailed in his luxury yacht, the Lady Ghislaine. He was litigious and often embroiled in controversy, including his support for Israel at the time of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
Maxwell and his sons
Maxwell's death triggered the collapse of his publishing empire as banks called in loans. His sons briefly attempted to keep the business together but failed as the news emerged that the elder Maxwell had stolen hundreds of millions of pounds from his own companies' pension funds. The Maxwell companies applied for bankruptcy protection in 1992.
It is almost 30 years since her father, the press baron Robert Maxwell, fell to his death from his £15m yacht, Lady Ghislaine, off the Canary Islands, aged 68. Even now there is talk of suicide, or murder – perhaps by Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service.
“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,” says Roy Greenslade, a former editor of one of Maxwell’s newspapers, the Daily Mirror. “So I am a suicide theorist. I believe Maxwell threw himself off.”
But, Maxwell was a huge Psychopathic Narcissist and thought himself bullet proof. Odds are that he fell off the boat...