Robert Maxwell (back row, centre) pictured with his wife Betty (sat with youngest daughter Ghislaine on her knee) and seven of their eight children at home in Headington Hill Hall, Oxford. When this photo was taken Ian (5) was 11 years old and attending preparatory school, while Isabel, then 17 (4) was at grammar school with their sister Christine (3), and youngest son Kevin, 8, (6) was at preparatory school. Second oldest son Philip, (1), had entered his second undergraduate yer at Balliol College, Oxford, while Anne (2) was also studying at the university, but at St Hugh’s College.
1. Philip, 71, the brilliant scientist who fled to Argentina
‘Poor Philip’, as his friends always knew him, was a brilliant scientist and mathematician who won a scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford, aged just 16.
But he so loathed his domineering father that, as soon as he could, Philip fled to Argentina to get ‘as far away from [him] as possible’.
The pair fell out irretrievably when he married Nilda, an Argentine, in 1977, against Robert’s wishes.
The marriage didn’t last — Nilda moved out taking their daughter Marcella with her and a second marriage also failed.
Philip was last heard of living in a £65-a-week flat in North London trying to be a writer. The subject? His bullying father.
2. Anne, 73, ex-actress called ‘ugly’ by her father
When her fledgling acting career floundered, her father’s reaction was: ‘What have you and Pope John Paul II got in common? You’re both ugly and you’re both failed actors.’
Having studied Italian and French at Oxford, she then trained as a Montessori teacher, married an osteopath and is now believed to be a hypnotherapist in Surrey, practising under another name.
She has kept out of the limelight since her father’s death at the age of 68.
3. Christine, 70, one of the twins
Christine and her twin sister Isabel made The Sunday Times Rich List in 1999 after amassing their £100 million in the dotcom boom.
She is the author of The Dictionary Of Perfect Spelling (a book with 20,000 words aimed at secondary school pupils) and is married to a Roger Malina, an astrophysicist at a French university.
They have two sons and a daughter and split their time between a Spanish-style mansion overlooking San Francisco and Aix-en-Provence in the South of France.
4. Isabel, 70, the second twin
Once described in The Jerusalem Post as ‘a fireball’ who is ‘always in your face’, Isabel was always the Maxwell to watch.
She never wanted to join the family firm, so after graduating from Oxford with a degree in modern languages, followed by a masters from Edinburgh, she became a TV reporter.
In 1981, she moved to California to work in TV before making a film set in 1968 starring rock singer Neil Young. ‘It wasn’t ET,’ she said, ‘. . . more a labour of love.’
But technology was her future. She and twin Christine co-founded one of the earliest internet search engines, known as Magellan, in 1992.
5. Ian, 64, the ‘fall guy’ brother
Taunted mercilessly at home — his father would ridicule him in front of visiting friends. When he joined the family business, he was compared unfavourably to his younger brother, Kevin.
In the aftermath, of their father’s death, Ian, then 35, and Kevin, 32, assumed control of the company and stood trial for their part in their father’s £460 million pension fraud.
They were acquitted, but the Maxwell name was mud for years and business opportunities were limited to overseas ventures. Ian’s first wife was an American former college basketball star and model called Laura Marie Plumb.
They met when she moved to London to help set up a TV cable company. The couple married in 1991 — the year of Robert Maxwell’s death — and the ensuing media attention put Laura under great strain. On the day that Ian and Kevin were arrested, she was photographed sobbing. The couple divorced in 1996.
6. Kevin, 62, Britain’s biggest ever bankrupt
The cleverest son and driving force of the family, Kevin was crestfallen by his father’s death, saying that he ‘missed his presence and ability to dominate’. He admitted to being totally in awe of him.
The only Maxwell sibling ever to express remorse in public for the fallout from Robert Maxwell’s crimes, Kevin made reference to the ‘moral burden I will bear for the rest of my life’.
His first wife, Pandora Warnford-Davis called her father-in-law Robert the ‘fat fraudster’.
When, in June 1992, Kevin was arrested and charged with fraud after hundreds of millions disappeared from the Maxwell empire’s employee pension funds, she appeared at the window of their home at dawn and shouted: ‘P*** off, or I’ll call the police!’ only to realise the early morning callers were the police.
In 2007, they divorced after 23 years and seven children together. Pandora was last heard of living in Oxford, renting out a room through Airbnb.
Soon after his arrest, Kevin became Britain’s biggest ever bankrupt when a £407 million bankruptcy order was made against him.
7. Ghislaine, 59, Jeffery
Known for her association with financier and convicted sex offender Jeffery Epstein, Ghislaine previously worked for her father until his death in 1991.
When he died, she moved to the United States and became a close associate of Epstein, and also founded a non-profit group focused on protecting the oceans – The Terra Marr Project.
However, it ceased operations on July 12, 2019, a week after the sex trafficking charges against Epstein – her former boyfriend – were brought by New York federal prosecutors and made public.
In 2020, Ghislaine herself was charged by the US government with the crimes of enticement of minors and sex trafficking of underage girls, and she has faced a number of accusations. She has denied them all.
Ghislaine was arrested in in Bradford, New Hampshire by the FBI on 2 July 2020, and has been jailed ever since.
Michael, Ghislaine’s oldest brother
Robert and Betty Maxwell’s first-born fell into a coma aged 15 after a car crash in 1961 and died eight years later, never having regained consciousness.
Karine, the middle sister
Died of leukaemia aged just three in 1957.