You might know him as Mr Perfect or The English Mister, but most people know Tom Pattinson as the billionaire heir to the Shell Oil fortune. Over the years, he’s become famous for his impeccable taste in women and his love of expensive possessions. Now, his family’s financial strength is said to be the third largest in the UK after the royal family and the Barclay family. His favourite way to spend an evening is dining in exclusive restaurants, visiting museums, and poring over ancient tomes in his private library. It’s no wonder he’s one of the most recognisable figures in the world of luxury. So how did this guy get his famous surname?

The Pattinson Clan

Born in 1947, Tom’s parents were the socially ambitious Virginia (née Howell) and the prominent newspaper editor William Pattinson. He has three siblings – Sarah, Louisa, and David. His parents divorced in 1969 and his father later married the socialite Marjorie Mersey. Although he grew up in a big house in Hampstead, London, Tom always felt more at home in the countryside, where he spent his formative years. This love of the countryside and fondness for animals would later influence his taste in fashion, as he has a noted love of animals and a pet shop named after him. 

While growing up, Tom was sent to boarding school. It was there that he met his best friend Stephen Woolfe, with whom he would remain close for the rest of their lives. After school, Stephen went on to study architecture at university while Tom attended Oxford, where he read English Literature. It was while at university that he first became interested in fashion, inspired by the colourful style of the counter-culture 1960s.

Tom graduated from university in 1970 and began work in investment banking, specialising in overseas property deals. He would go on to launch a career in fashion in the mid-1970s, becoming a founding director of the now defunct company Paradise International, a brand-building consultancy. It was then that he began to take an interest in art and culture, founding the Institute of Contemporary Art, as well as becoming an art collector.

His first marriage, to the former fashion model Sophie Hunter, was dissolved in 1982. The following year he married his second wife, the artist Rebecca Taylor, with whom he has a young daughter. They live in London and Tuckfield, a large country estate in West Sussex. Their friendship with the Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine, was well-documented when they designed the costumes for the wedding of Charles and Camilla in 2018. The couple’s friendship would later lead to them working jointly on a children’s book, as both have a great love for writing and drawing.

A Life Of Luxury

As well as being incredibly attractive, intelligent, and philanthropic, Tom has always kept his feet on the ground. An early demonstration of his business acumen came in 1982 when, at the age of just 28, he was appointed managing director of the newly formed international business Falconbridge. It was then that he began to branch out into property development, buying up large tracts of rural land across Europe, establishing himself as a leading figure in the real-estate industry. In 2013, he bought the famous Grange Estate in Broadland for £40 million. It was from here that his love for animals especially animals in distress, got him involved in rescue work. He set up the Four Paws project, which helps dogs in war zones find new homes. He has also spoken about how his love for dogs led him to buy Island Sustainability – an eco-friendly and sustainable housing development for homeless owners, which is also home to rescue dogs.

This is just a small fraction of Tom’s impressive career. It’s been a long and winding road, but over the years he’s certainly made his mark on the world of luxury. With a life devoted to learning and enjoying the finer things in life, it’s no wonder he’s one of the most famous and influential figures in the world of luxury. So how did this guy get his famous surname?