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Robert and Patrick Wilson
Complementary medicine
Rank 2017
41
Worth
€293m
Rise/fall
New
Dublin-born Robert, 54, and his brother Patrick, 51, own Nelsons, Europe’s oldest and largest manufacturer of natural medicines including Rescue Remedy. Established as a Mayfair pharmacy in 1860,  it is now worth €259m but was struggling  with six employees when the founder's descendants died in a plane crash en route to a conference in Brussels in 1972. The Wilson family made their initial fortune from bacon curing in Fife in the 19th century and later from petfood produced in Ireland. The sale of their Kennomeat brand to Spillers in 1964 funded Barcapel, a philanthropic foundation that has given €35m to charitable causes. Robert’s father Dickie, who died in 2006, had an interest in homeopathy and supported Prince Charles’s campaigns to give credence to alternative medicine, so he agreed to take Nelsons over to preserve its heritage. The firm has seen spectacular growth under Robert’s leadership, while sales – driven by Geneva-based Patrick – have expanded from 3% to 70% of turnover. Dividends and other assets add €34m to their fortune. Their parents had a prominent collection of contemporary art in their home at Killiney, south Dublin, and Robert has built his own collection with his sculptor wife Nicky at Bonnington, the house they bought near Edinburgh in 1999. The 100-acre Jupiter Artland sculpture garden in its grounds is open to the public, and features a Charles Jencks piece that took eight years to build, along with work by British artists including Antony Gormley, Cornelia Parker, Ian Hamilton Finlay and Anish Kapoor. Robert has been chairman of the Edinburgh Art Festival since 2010.