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A billionaire’s biggest mistake: How Australia’s youngest mega-rich entrepreneur threw it all away by making one simple error

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 23/01/2019 Mark Brook For Daily Mail Australia
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He’s a former electrician who became a coal baron and Australia’s youngest billionaire – who lost it all by making one simple error.  

Speaking to the ABC's Leigh Sales on Wednesday, Nathan Tinkler, from the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, said he lost his fortune with a series of bad decisions and now must start again at 'ground zero'.

Mr Tinkler had no corporate experience when he turned a $1miilion investment into $442million selling his stake in Macarthur Coal, aged just 32. 

But he then threw it all away by putting the money in a string of bad investments, including horseracing and two football clubs.

a man standing in front of a horse© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited

'I had a win and I wished that I had felt like that money wasn't burning a hole in my pocket. Personally, I probably wasn't that happy,' Mr Tinkler said. 

He described how at the time he'd been overconfident with his investments and wished he'd sailed off into the sunset, saying he was 'bullish on the coal sector'.

At his peak, Mr Tinkler was estimated to be worth a staggering $1.13billion in 2011, Smart Company reported.  

But when the price of coal plummeted, the self-made billionaire's empire began to fall apart, and by 2016 he was bankrupt. 

a man wearing a suit and tie: Nathan Tinkler (pictured), from the Hunter Valley in NSW, described how he earned his fortune only to lose it all with bad investments© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Nathan Tinkler (pictured), from the Hunter Valley in NSW, described how he earned his fortune only to lose it all with bad investments

He told Ms Sales he wanted to 'set the record straight' after several media reports had accused him of not paying contractors and creditors. 

He insisted that, despite rumours, he hadn't ripped anyone off and the money he lost was his own. 

'You can pull up 1000 articles and you won't find any of those people who know Nathan Tinkler. It became a massive snowball and too big to stop,' he said.

Despite saying he is now worth 'zero', the former billionaire isn't short of a dollar. 

a group of people playing football on a field: Mr Tinkler's (pictured far right) empire began to fall apart after he was unable to repay sports debts, and in 2016 he was bankrupt© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Mr Tinkler's (pictured far right) empire began to fall apart after he was unable to repay sports debts, and in 2016 he was bankrupt

He still lives in a 'nice home' in Coffs Harbour with more than $11million, which he said is basically owned by secured credit.

Mr Tinkler said aside from doing a bit of consulting work, he occasionally dabbles in the stock market.

He doesn't have any immediate plans for the next phase of his career, but knows it won't be an easy road back to the top.

'It's back to ground zero, back to where you started,' he said. 

The rise and fall of Nathan Tinkler 

2006: His rise began when he borrowed $500,000 to buy the Middlemount coal mine in Central Queensland for $11.5million.

2007: He sold 70 per cent of Middlemount to Macarthur Coal for $57million in cash plus a parcel of Macarthur shares valued at $184million.

2008: Tinkler sold his Macarthur shares for $422million and later that year he was estimated to be worth $441million, according to the BRW Young Rich list.

2010: He floated the company Aston Resources with $400million worth of shares offered, valuing his holdings at $600million.

2010: Tinkler purchased the A-league club Newcastle Jets from Con Constantine.

2011: He assumed ownership of the Newcastle Knights rugby league club.

2012: In April Tinkler handed back the Jets licence to the FFA but the Federation said he was in breach of a binding contract. 

At the time, he was worth more than A$1.18 billion, but by September his estimated worth dropped to $630million.

On Melbourne Cup day, Tinkler's private trainer John Thompson, revealed that Tinkler's stable of horses had been forced to go without feed.

2013: In April, it was revealed Tinkler had put his entire racing and breeding business up for sale. 

In May, the BRW Rich 200 estimated Tinkler's estimated worth had continued to drop due to falling asset values. 

2014: In May, it was alleged contracts had bee exchanged to sell his private company, Patinack Farm Administration for an undisclosed amount. 

2015: Tinkler place Newcastle Jets into voluntary administration, listing debts of $2.7 million, after players and staff had not been paid for a month. 

An arrest warrant was also ordered for Tinkler after he failed to appear in the Supreme Court to answer questions about the liquidation of his Patinack horse farm. 

2016: Tinkler was officially declared bankrupt. 

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