He Became a Billionaire, Dies on Way to Rehab at 54

Matthew Mellon bet big on cryptocurrencies, but battled an OxyContin addiction
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2018 7:28 AM CDT
US banking heir Matthew Mellon arrives at Court in London Thursday May 3, 2007, where he is accused of hiring others to hack into private financial accounts of his former wife Tamara Mellon.   (AP Photo / Steve Parsons, PA)

(Newser) – Matthew Mellon, the banking heir whose cryptocurrency investment paid off big-time, has died in Cancun, Mexico. He was 54. A family rep issued the following statement to Page Six: "Mellon made his fortune in cryptocurrency, turning a $2 million investment into $1 billion. He is survived by his three children, Force, Olympia, and Minty. The family asks that their privacy be respected at this very painful time." Though the statement originally said that he died in rehab, it was updated to say he died prior to checking in. The AP reports Mellon hailed from the Mellon and Drexel families of Bank of New York Mellon and Drexel Burnham Lambert and has details on his first marriage, to Jimmy Choo co-founder Tamara Mellon. The two reportedly met at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting; they married in 1999, at a wedding attended by the likes of Elizabeth Hurley and Hugh Grant.

After their divorce, Mellon wed fashion designer Nicole Hanley; they split in 2015. Page Six reports Mellon spoke of his addiction issues in 2016, saying he developed a $100,000-a-month OxyContin habit after suffering an injury and was downing some 80 pills daily. "The doctors kept writing prescriptions like they were Smarties," he said at the time. "It's very irresponsible. OxyContin is like legal heroin. And it needs to be addressed." Mellon was profiled in February by Forbes, which reported that those close to him "tried to dissuade him, figuring it was another erratic obsession" when he started spending on cryptocurrencies. But the $2 million he sank into Ripple's XRP paid off, turning into that roughly $1 billion investment. The article noted he was renting a house in Los Angeles at the time—for $150,000 a month.

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