He is the heir to a £1.1 billion fortune, with ambitions to match.
And if you think Dave Sullivan Jr. is a lucky man, rest assured that he has precious little time to enjoy the incredible riches at his disposal.
‘People will always have a go, saying I’ve been born with a silver spoon in my mouth, but I work harder than just about anyone I know,’ says the 20-year-old son of West Ham United’s co-owner, David Sullivan.
‘My dad came from a council house – he had nothing – and he built up a billion pound empire. Well if he can do that then I want to leave my own kids £5 billion, and the only way to do that is by hard work and imagination.’
One glance at the lifestyle Dave Jr. enjoys would be enough to turn most twentysomething men green with envy.
His fabulously extravagant central London pad has been home since he left Chigwell School, near his family’s Essex mansion, after completing his GCSEs at the age of 16. While his father and his mother Emma – who decorated the property herself in jaw-droppingly lavish style – often stay when they’re in London, the apartment is very much regarded as Dave’s personal bachelor pad.
Dave also earned top grades at A Level but has opted not to go to university choosing instead to focus on the family business, likening himself to one notorious businessman.
‘When my mates ask me what my job is I tell them I basically do the job Hugh Hefner did at Playboy,’ says Dave, whose father David Sr was responsible for over half of the UK’s adult magazines in the late ’70s and went on to snap up The Daily Sport and The Sunday Sport.
Dave Sullivan Jr. is the 20-year-old son of David Sullivan, the founder of Sport Newspapers and co-owner of West Ham
Though he prefers a more informal setting, Dave recognises the importance of networking which is where his ornate dining room comes into play
Entertaining in the gilt-edged dining room, complete with original oil paintings and antique chandelier, is a stylish experience
‘This is where I spend a lot of my time relaxing,’ says Dave of the bar. ‘My friends come round before we head out for the night – it’s a perfect pre-club venue’
‘My dad bought the building for £11 million after Lehman Brothers collapsed,’ says Dave of his luxe apartment. ‘It was a shell then – everything you see now has been built from scratch.
‘I know I’m lucky that this has been home since I was a teenager. It’s a great place to live and I’ve had a lot of fun here, but don’t think I take it for granted.
‘There are so many things I want to do and my life now is about learning the business. I’m learning every day, seven days a week. Compared to my mates who are at university I work so much harder – and I love it.’
Dave’s father is David Sullivan Sr, who made his fortune in adult magazines and newspapers before becoming a co-owner of West Ham. He bought his son’s luxe pad for £11million
The bespoke cornicing and chandelier of the dining room ceiling were made to order, as part of an intricate design scheme for the entire three-storey apartment
Winston Churchill portraits – The legendary prime minister is an inspiration for two generations of Sullivans
The paintings in the apartment have been collected by the family as part of a collection worth a seven-figure sum. Pictured: Painting of a ballroom scene hung in the dining room
The kitchen is the scene where family dinners are prepared when the Sullivans come down to London from their Essex mansion. This year they gathered on Christmas Eve for a huge feast prepared single-handedly by mother Emma
A combination of bespoke pieces and antiques means Dave’s sitting room would not look out of place in an aristocrat’s country mansion
Dave has a team of florists come round several times a year to set up seasonal decorations including his ornate Christmas tree
The gilt edging of the sitting room has echoes of Versailles, while the choice of original oil paintings fits with the antique theme. The apartment boasts two large sitting rooms for entertaining
DAVE’S ORNATE INTERIORS AT A GLANCE
THE 30FT CHANDELIER – The centrepiece of the three-storey apartment is a vast 30ft Swarovski crystal chandelier, which took six workmen 10 days to install
THE CRYSTAL PANTHER – Dave’s mother Emma spotted this Swarovski crystal panther on a family skiing holiday and snapped it up to form the apartment’s main talking point
THE CINEMA ROOM – Part of Dave’s bedroom suit, the cinema room is stocked with thousands of titles, as well as being linked up to Bluetooth for a surround-sound music experience. It is also equipped with plush leather seating and a plus-size screen for the full cinematic experience.
ICONIC ART WORK – The property is decorated with millions of pounds worth of art and antiques, including portraits of Winston Churchill and modern pieces by artists such as Mr Brainwash.
A WALK-IN WARDROBE – As a lover of fine tailoring the 20-year-old’s suit includes a walk-in wardrobe containing an array of his favourite suits as well as showcasing designer pieces, notably his Christian Louboutin loafers.
CRYSTAL LAMBORGHINI – Dave admits his dream car is a Lamborghini Gallardo but for now he settles for this Swarovski crystal-encrusted replica that is among his most prized possessions in his bedroom.
THE AT-HOME BAR – The bar and cinema room are connected, to make a bespoke entertainment zone for Dave and his wide circle of friends. ‘This is where I spend a lot of my time relaxing,’ says Dave of the bar. ‘My friends come round before we head out for the night – it’s a perfect pre-club venue.’
Having a palatial bachelor pad to come home to surely helps. The centrepiece of the three-storey apartment is a vast 30ft Swarovski crystal chandelier, which took six workmen 10 days to install.
The property is decorated with millions of pounds worth of art and antiques, while Dave’s bedroom suite comes with its own personal bar and cinema.
‘I’ve got the most incredible mum and she did all the interior design,’ he says. ‘As you can see from the decor she’s pretty creative, which is why she’s so good.
The palatial central hallway is bedecked in gilt-edged marble, vast orchids and the centrepiece of the entire home, a 36ft crystal chandelier
The 30ft centrepiece chandelier was created especially for the apartment. Hanging down three stories in the centre of the spiral staircase, it is made up of thousands of Swarovski crystals
With the property sprawled across three high-ceilinged stories, a private lift is available to take the strain
FROM PORN TO THE PREMIERSHIP: THE DAVID SULLIVAN EMPIRE
Before taking on West-Ham, the welsh businessman and Dave’s father made his name as a pornographer, initially selling soft porn photos alongside his partner David Gold.
The pair later expanded into sex shops, adult magazines as well as a few low-budget films seeing Sullivan become a millionaire by the age of 25, and by the late 70s he was responsible for over half of the adult magazine titles in the UK.
This was followed by several low-budget films that all starred his then girlfriend Mary Millington, who committed suicide in August 1979.
David Sullivan made his millions in the porn industry before taking on West Ham FC in 2013. Pictured: A portrait of Sullivan (below) and his son as a baby (top)
Seven years on, he took on the Daily Sport and the Sunday Sport which stayed under his name for 21 years until he sold it for £40 million in 2007.
The first issue of the Sunday Sport went on sale on 14 September 1986. Advertising in the Sunday Sport was once the responsibility of Sullivan’s protegee Karren Brady (now better known for her role as Alan Sugar’s aide on the Apprentice), who went on to work alongside Sullivan in both of his football clubs.
It’s sister title, Daily Sport came under threat when it went into administration in 2011. However, it shortly returned to publication on 8 May, after it was reacquired by Sullivan for £50,000.
Sullivan now publishes the paper three times a week as Midweek Sport (Wednesdays), Weekend Sport (Fridays) and Sunday Sport, through his company Sunday Sport.
The papers are reflective of Sullivan’s history in the adult industry with it best known for its semi-nude content of women.
Meanwhile, Sullivan invested his interests in football, purchasing Birmingham City in 1993 eventually selling his share in the club 16 years on stepping down from the post in 2009.
Less than one year on in January 2010, joined by partner Gold, Sullivan invested in a 50 per cent share in West Ham United giving them commercial control and valuing the Premier League club at £105 million.
In July 2013 Sullivan became the largest single shareholder of West Ham United acquiring a further 25 per cent of shares in the club
And in April 2016, Sullivan was named by The Sunday Times as Britain’s 117th equal richest man, with assets valued at £1 billion.
‘There are so many conversation pieces here. We saw the crystal panther on a skiing holiday and we just had to have it. It’s an amazing piece by an artist called Richard Orlinski.
‘If you stand on the second floor and look down it looks absolutely enormous but up close it’s not really that big.’
Placed alongside the Swarovski chandelier, it is remarkable that anybody can pay attention to the panther. Yet art lovers will find no end of unique pieces to keep them occupied.
Dave is a self confessed lover of fine tailoring, setting off a huge wardrobe of items with his favourite pair of Christian Louboutin loafers
The upstairs sitting room has a more modern feel and is reserved for daytime meetings with tall windows maximising the light, making for a relaxed feel
The bar is predominantly for show, as Dave says this room is mostly used for having a cup of tea with friends and business contacts
A large TV in the corner of the upstairs living room means Dave can always stay on top of his football obsession
Florists have arranged Christmas motifs throughout the apartment and Dave’s Christmas presents even complemented the surrounds of the living room
Extravagant cornicing sets off the ingenious modern lighting setup in the snug TV area of the upstairs living room
The bathrooms are every bit as plush as the other rooms in the house featuring marble tiling from floor to ceiling
Some aspects of the apartment are priceless – such as this incredible bird’s eye view of London’s skyline from the bedroom
Each bedroom has its own colour scheme, designed to reflect the interconnecting marble hallways
Dave’s mother spotted this Swarovski crystal panther on a family skiing holiday and snapped it up to form the apartment’s main talking point
Even the art on the walls is selected to reflect the mood of each room, such as this unique modern print
For Dave, who recently took over as publisher of his father’s Sport newspapers, the works serve as a daily inspiration.
It is no secret that David Sr. built his fortune on pornography, first as the publisher of several racy magazines and subsequently through an empire of sex shops. With the latter struggling to make money (the family concede they are only kept going because of the loyal staff who work there), the focus now falls on the Sport.
After Dave Jr. took over as publisher, profits went up by two and a half times in two months, thanks to the renegotiation of printing contracts and the carefully managed launch of an online version.
A five-star hotel would be proud of the setup, though Dave admits his tastes are relatively simple. ‘I can mix my own vodka and coke, so a lot of it doesn’t get much use,’ he says
The cinema room is stocked with thousands of titles, as well as being linked up to Bluetooth for a surround-sound music experience
A crystal-encrusted ceiling makes for a nightclub-at-home experience in the luxurious bar area
A pair of Philippe Starck lamps set off this bright setting outside the entertainment zone and you wouldn’t get much change out of £5,000 for this pair of lamps
Dave likes to relax with his friends in front of a movie, though it won’t be long before a new system is put in. ‘It’s five years old and the technology has moved on massively since then – who knows what we’ll be watching five years from now,’ he says
Dave’s master suite is a typical bachelor’s bedroom, decked out in black and chrome with modern art on the walls
Dave’s en suite bathroom includes a massive black granite-style bath. ‘It’s so big, when I sit in it the sides go right up to my neck,’ he says
The fixtures and fittings are all black and the tiles decorated with skull and crossbones motifs
Dave admits his dream car is a Lamborghini Gallardo but for now he settles for this Swarovski crystal-encrusted replica. ‘I’d probably write it off within a week, so I’m happy with my Mercedes for now,’ he says. ‘Maybe in a few years I’ll indulge myself’
‘When my mates ask me what my job is I tell them I basically do the job Hugh Hefner did at Playboy,’ says Dave.
‘Publishing is a declining business so it won’t go on for ever, just like the sex shops. But my dad has brought a lot of pleasure to a lot of people down the years with these businesses, and that can only be a good thing.
‘Looking to the future, though, we have a huge property portfolio and of course West Ham United. That’s why I’m spending so much time getting to know the business, so when my dad decides to move on I’m in a good position to take things forward.’
Dave’s dressing room is packed with designer labels, with an overall price tag bigger than some families’ family home
‘I do like my designer gear, I’m not going to lie,’ he says. ‘I like D Squared jeans and Alexander McQueen tops. With my suits I tend to go for Dolce & Gabbana because they’re so beautifully tailored’
Dave’s dressing table is kept immaculate with an ornate mirror adding scale to his bedroom
‘This painting by an amazing artist called Mr Brainwash is the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning,’ says Dave. ‘He went from being a nobody to selling his art for thousands and thousands of pounds, through sheer force of will. It inspires me to be the best I can be’
In the meantime Dave is living a lifestyle most young men can only dream of.
Currently single, he is not short of options. Though coy about his romantic entanglements, he admits he has been close to one particular young lady for the past couple of months. While they are ‘not officially together’, fingers are crossed for the future.
‘I work hard and I play hard, but the emphasis is definitely on the work side of things,’ he says. ‘The fact is anyone can have the same life as me. My dad has proved that – and I’m well aware that I have a lot to live up to.’
David Sullivan’s £7.5million Essex mansion with 14 bedrooms, a bowling alley and TWO swimming pools
His impressive London pad is not the only luxury property in David Sullivan’s arsenal.
The crown jewel of his property portfolio is his palatial £7.5million mansion he built more than 20 years ago in Essex.
The Welshman raised his two sons (Dave and Jack) in the huge home he shares with their mother, Emma, and has spent years putting the finishing touches to every room to reflect his wealth and taste.
David built the palatial £7.5m mansion more than 20 years ago in Essex after making his fortune in the porn industry
The dining room can seat 24 people and is also where David displays his collection of rare horse racing trophies
The billionaire has raised his two sons in the opulent home and admitted it is hard to get them to understand the value of money
In September last year he allowed the cameras to go behind his expensive front door to reveal the splendour in which and his family reside.
Presenters Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford were given a tour of the property for their Channel 5 show How The Other Half Lives, and were amazed to find that the mansion has its own bowling alley, indoor and outdoor swimming pool, games room and tennis court.
There are 14 bedrooms, opulent bathrooms and a dining room which can seat 24 people at the table.
The hallway houses a giant chandelier that David admitted costs a fortune alone in electricity.
One of the bathrooms in the 25000 sq ft property is lined with marble and mirrors
A chandelier in the hallway which David said costs a fortune in electricity
David said of his home: ‘I didn’t base it on a stately home, I just wanted a grand statement but it is tiny compared to Buckingham Palace.’
Also inside is an office which Ruth joked was the ‘size of their house’ where David continues to run his business empire – as he says he has no plans to retire at the age of 67.
He has left adult entertainment far behind him and is now co-owner of football club West Ham, and remains one of the richest men in the UK.
Surrounded by acres of land, his home is 25,000 sq ft and he has filled it with items and artworks he loves.
This includes a collection of horse racing trophies – some of which he has won with his own horses and some rarities he has bought.
The property’s indoor pool and Jacuzzi. Other fun and games in the house are provided by a bowling alley and tennis court
There’s also an outdoor pool overlooked by a large patio in the grounds of the impressive mansion
He also has an unusual collection of servants made from silicone which stand on ceremony in various rooms. He told the presenters they are works of art worth £50,000 each.
David admitted to the pair he has come a long way since he first started out selling football programmes.
He made his first million thanks to owning pornographic magazines and sex shops and he went onto launch the Daily Sport newspaper, which he then sold for £45m.
David told the presenters he doesn’t feel any shame about how he made his money – and his sons are also proud of his achievements.
He said: ‘My sons know everything and think it is funny and marvellous. There is less stigma towards the sex industry in their generation.
A games room in the house owned by the billionaire and features a snooker table as well as marble pillars
One of the house’s 14 bedrooms with Oriental themed decor with opulent themes occurring throughout
David’s art collection includes a number of silicone statues of servants like this one worth £50,000
‘I am not ashamed of it – I only sold to adults and all my material was with adults. It is a dead business now as the sex shops make no money, I only keep them on for the staff.’
He added that his billions do make it hard to teach his teenage sons the value of money.
They get to jet set on holiday around the world, shop at designer stores and watch Premiership football from the best seats in the house.
David admitted their overindulgence can leads to arguments between him and their mother, Emma, which he finds ironic as growing up, rows in his home were about lack of finances.
He said: ‘They shop at D&G, one bought £1,700 pair of shoes which is obscene. It is one thing me and their mum, my one term girlfriend, argue about as she indulges them.
‘Growing up the arguments in my house were about lack of money. I used to dream of being a millionaire and I foolishly used to think if you had money you wouldn’t have rows and everything is wonderful.
‘It is better but how do you teach children the value of money and with your own lifestyle where do you draw the line?’
Despite being an exceedingly wealthy man, he said he has no plans to stop working.
‘I want to be someone who is somebody, not someone who was somebody. I never want to retire,’ he said.
He added that this drive to always want more is what has made him a billionaire and he believes never being satisfied is a trait of successful entrepreneurs.