Cambridge-educated barrister turned stockbroker Ruffer, 65, is spending £140m in an attempt to regenerate the former coalmining town of Bishop Auckland in Co Durham, where the restoration of Auckland Castle will include a new gallery, a research centre for Spanish and Latin American art and a number of gardens. The philanthropist is committed to turning the castle into a glamorous tourist destination that boosts the local economy and attracts more than 400,000 visitors a year.
This summer will see the second season of his show Kynren — the Old English word for kindred — an epic tale of 2,000 years of British history myth and legend featuring 1,500 local volunteers as cast and crew. Last year's version sold more than 120,000 tickets and its monumental staging at the castle formed part of £49.8m in charitable donations by Ruffer, placing him at No 9 on this year's Giving List. He made his fortune from the investment business he founded in 1994 with Robert Shirley, the 14th Earl Ferrers. London-based Ruffer Management saw its funds under management rise almost £1bn to £17.7bn in 2015-16 while profits reached a record £130.4m on £173m turnover. Ruffer and his family own just over half of the £700m business, a stake now worth £365m. Past salaries and other wealth, including his share of a £15.8m dividend last year, take him to £406m.
Exclusive interview: Jonathan Ruffer, the man regenerating the northeast