Cypriot property billionaire Chris Lazari, 69, died of a heart attack at his home in north London on Monday, the Cyprus News Agency reported.
Lazari left his home village of Dora, Limassol, in 1962 at the age of 16 in search of a better future in London. Armed with £20 and a hefty dose of ambition, he became involved in the fashion business before taking his first steps in real estate.”I was in my third year at the Lanition Gymnasium of Limassol. I boarded the MV Messapia and sailed to England. The rest is history,” he was quoted as saying.
“In my early twenties I began investing in small properties to secure my young family’s financial position with money I earned from my involvement in the fashion business,” he said in acceptance speech for a lifetime achievement award he was given in 2012.
“I was very ambitious and very hard working and I believe it was these qualities and my real love of the property business which drove me on to build a large property portfolio. Sir Winston Churchill said ‘However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.’ I often consider the results.”
Lazari started out working in restaurants during which time he studied fashion design in London, then created his own clothing company. With profits from this enterprise in 1978 he turned to real estate.
According to the annual Rich List published annually by the newspaper Sunday Times, in 2015 the property of Chris Lazari amounted to 1.450 billion pounds. He was second in the list of richest Greeks and Cypriots Britain behind Sir Stelios Hadji-Ioannou and 65th overall in the UK.
His extensive charity work included active support for the Radiomarathon for people with disabilities.
He leaves behind his wife Mary, three children and seven grandchildren.
Lazari was a classmate and close friend of President Nicos Anastasiades.
Last year he undertook to assume the cost for the use of a private jet by Anastasiades, when this was considered necessary.
In a written statement at the time, Lazari said: “Taking into account the economic situation of my country and wanting to actively express my support to the efforts of my personal friend President Anastasiades – who has to travel abroad frequently – I decided to assume the cost for the use of a private airplane, when this is necessary, for example where there is no direct air link with Cyprus.”
Lazari adds that he and Anastasiades had been friends for decades and noted that friendship was the only motive for his decision, within the framework of his desire to actively support Anastasiades` efforts.