There is never a dull moment in the peripatetic life of Monaco-domiciled Sir Owen Glenn and this past year has been no exception.
The outspoken philanthropist, who sold his US-based OTS Logistics Group for a reported $400 million in 2012, became embroiled in three controversies that had tongues wagging all over the country.
One of the most recent concerned a major court battle over the sale of OTS.
Sir Owen is suing his former business partner and close friend of 30 years, David J Miller, for $400 million, the sum that went into a Caribbean-based trust after the sale of the company.
Sir Owen believed he would retain “de facto” control of the trust’s assets so that he could spend the money as he saw fit, but the trustees, who included Mr Miller and another longstanding business adviser Peter Maxwell, apparently thought otherwise.
He also alleges they took millions of dollars in trustees’ fees they were not entitled to.
The acrimonious imbroglio suggests Sir Owen may not be as well-heeled as once thought, something he alluded to in his book Making a Difference.
“Even though I’m constantly referred to as a billionaire, I’ve actually never been one.”
Then there was his rather public stoush with one-time mate and fellow Rich Lister Eric Watson.
The pair, who jointly own the Warriors, locked horns over the sudden sacking of coach Matt Elliot, a move that apparently took Sir Owen completely by surprise. He accused Mr Watson of dictatorial behaviour, saying their relationship had deteriorated to the point of confrontation.
Sir Owen recently launched legal proceedings to try to unwind his associated company’s investment in the Warriors and recover $6.15 million.
The fracas over Elliot was preceded by revelations that Sir Owen had been accused of physically abusing a young woman in Hawaii in 2002.
Despite the claims being later dropped, the news was a body blow to the $2 million high profile inquiry he funded into domestic violence and child abuse in 2012.
The inquiry continued and its first report was published recently suggesting ideas for change including a major review of the court system.
One bright spot during the year for Sir Owen was an investiture at Government House in Auckland where he was knighted for services to business and the community.
Medical philanthropist Sir Ray Avery once described him as a “loveable rogue” who was “flash” about his donations.
Flashy or not, Sir Owen has given away millions in recent years to such causes as orphanages, sports, music, the Christchurch earthquake and, of course, the $7.5 million University of Auckland business school named after him.
The man himself says he’s not motivated by making a return.
“I only ask for a smile. I have always helped other people, even before I came into my wealth.”