PIZZA Express founder Peter Boizot died penniless after losing millions of pounds on failed business deals and giving away much of his fortune, it emerged yesterday.
Mr Boizot, who died aged 89 in December, borrowed £100 in 1965 to open his first pizzeria in London. He reportedly made £33million when he sold his company in 1993, having turned Pizza Express into a family favourite across the UK. But probate records reveal that he died leaving only £99,050, with his net estate reduced to “nil” after all his liabilities were settled.
His sister Clementine Allen, 83, said he lost the bulk of his money after taking over struggling football club Peterborough United.
He also bought a theatre, art galleries and a hotel – all of which failed. He was a lifelong philanthropist who made gifts to Peterborough Cathedral and funded a hockey pitch for St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, where he had studied as a young man.
Mr Boizot never married and had no children, despite having girlfriends throughout his life, and lived in a rented flat in his home city.
He was so hard up that Mrs Allen’s son lent him money to pay his care fees in his final two years.
Mr Boizot remained president of Pizza Express after selling his stake in the company. The chain, which now has 500 restaurants worldwide, was sold to the China-based private equity group Hony Capital for £900million in 2004.
Mrs Allen, who still runs her own pizza restaurant in Lancaster, said her brother was “a fantastic person”.
She said: “Peter did what he wanted in the way he wanted to do it. That is what he did and how he ended up with virtually nothing.
“I don’t think he understood money… He didn’t have any value for it, but he loved his life and he helped a lot of people.”