Son of millionaire took his life after realising 'extent of his emptiness', mother tells inquest

Son of millionaire took his life after realising ‘extent of his emptiness’, mother tells inquest

A millionaire’s son with “no regard for the value of money” jumped into the Thames after he realised the “extent of his emptiness”, his mother told an inquest.

Alexander Stern, the son of stationery businessman and Ferrari collector Ronald Stern, took his own life in January 2020.

He had been missing for almost three months before his body was found by a canoeist on April 4.

Mr Stern’s mother Susan told an inquest in Reading that her son struggled with an “inability to differentiate between fact and fiction” throughout his life and had never managed to find happiness in work.

She said that as a child he was “sociable and interested in nature” but as he grew up and attended the elite independent Rugby School he became a problematic teenager with “total disregard for the value of money.”

While studying at Edinburgh University, Mr Stern asked for more money on top of the allowance he received from his parents and ultimately stopped attending classes at the European Business School.

He initially set up his own toiletries company before moving to his father’s business for six years, moving from one department to another without ever seeming to greatly enjoy the work, the inquest heard.

Mr Stern then used his grandmother’s “substantial” inheritance to travel across Europe and South Africa between 2016 and 2019.

He was diagnosed with ADHD and a personality disorder on his return home and started to attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings, the inquest was told.

Mr Stern expressed suicidal thoughts in the weeks before his dea-th, his mother added, after he was prescribed with medication for anxiety and depression.

“He ran out of energy and options and realised the extent of his emptiness,” she said. 

Mr Stern booked a hotel in Battersea prior to his disappearance and withdrew £20,000 from a cash machine before he was last seen at a pub in Sonning.

The medical cause of Mr Stern’s dea-th remained “unascertained” following a post-mortem, but assistant coroner Alan Blake said he was satisfied Mr Stern “took his own life and intended to do so.”

“Alexander Stern was a young man aged 36 years who had a troubled mental health history,” he said.

“While he evidently had a number of gifts and qualities, his adult life did not deliver the success and stability that he evidently craved.”

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