Born in 1967, Boris Becker made a mark for himself at the age of 17. He became the youngest player ever to win Wimbledon men’s singles title. Boris is a decorated man with large number of game titles and trophies. Former world no. 1, Boris is also ranked 18th best Tennis Player of all times.

While Boris has been excellent with sports, it appears he has been not so careful with wealth management. The journey of his wealth destruction from peak of USD 167 mn (networth) in late nineties to bankruptcy  is quite rapid and jaw dropping. In 2017, he was legally declared bankrupt when bankers Arbuthnot Latham & Co  filed suit for recovery of debt against him.

Professional athletes are paid millions of dollars because they are the best people on the planet at what they do and what they do just happens to generate billions of dollars in revenue every year. We often hear celebrities from sports file for bankruptcy. A 2009 Sports Illustrated study revealed that 78% of NFL (US national Football League) players file for bankruptcy at some point in their life, after retirement. About 68% of US NBA players also file for bankruptcy within 5 years of retirement. Most common reasons for loss of wealth are Divorces, Extra Marital Affairs, Taxes, mindless acquisition of Real Estate, Exotic & high end investments, and business ventures not going right. With fame comes glamour, pride, greed, friends (fake & real), and advisors who are looking for their pound of flesh.

Boris Becker has also fallen the same way. In late 1990s, his wife Barbara Feltus divorced him for having an extra marital affair with a Russian model Angela Ermakova. It costed Boris an amount of USD 25 million. Besides, he had to part with a luxury condo in Miami. Also, he was required to buy her a USD 1.2 mn home in London.

Somewhere in 2002, he got entangled in tax evasion case amounting to more than USD 2 mn. This was on account of overseas residency.

Boris paid a multi-million pound settlement to the Russian model Angela Ermakova, as they had a daughter to provide for.


Now comes the biggest blow of all. Boris Becker seems to have made questionable investments in Nigerian oil industry. The value of these investments has come crashing down. Part of this may been lost in scams. According to German media estimates, he may have lost more than USD 100 mn in this adventure. These investments were concentrated bets, and included huge amount of borrowed capital.

In May 2018, Boris announced that he and his second wife Lilly Kerssenberg are separating. This should entail further pressure on his finances.

All in all, as it looks, Boris Becker is a victim of self-indiscipline, extravagant lifestyle, lack of diversification in investments, and unbridled borrowings.

For a person of his stature, it is unlikely that all the investment & borrowing decisions were taken by him. He must have been surrounded by wide variety of friends & advisors, who should take part of the blame here as well.

Financial success, like career success, is supposed to be earned. One cannot take it for granted. Wealth has wings and should not be kept in a cage. But, if not trained well, it will fly away to someone else.

The world of finance and investment is becoming complex. But pursuing wealth management via time tested principals is the best way to preserve and grow the networth. Topic of Financial Planning, Asset Allocation, Risk Mitigation, etc. may sound boring in good times, but prove their worth in bad times. Both investors and their advisors need to watch their behaviour for long term success.



By Sameer Rastogi

18 years of experience, PG in Finance and has delivered Wealth Management lectures at IIM Lucknow, IBS Gurgaon and IIPM Delhi. Contributed to various newspapers. Strength – Application of Economic fundamentals to Investment

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