Meet the repo man who takes back jets, yachts and racehorses

While the recession means gloom for most of us, the harder it bites the more business booms for Ken Cage – King of the Repo Men.

While the recession means gloom for most of us, the harder it bites the more business booms for Ken Cage – King of the Repo Men.

Thanks to the economic downturn, Ken has repossessed goods worth £1billion.

And he hasn’t done it by taking TVs from hard-up families, but from snatching the racehorses, private jets and yachts of the super rich.

The staggering value of items he has seized dwarfs the £21million Mayfair mansion that last week became the most expensive house ever to be repossessed in Britain.

In the past four years, Ken has earned a tidy sum from taking the playthings of rich people who suddenly found themselves down to their last few million. And business shows no sign of letting up.

“We had more cases in the first five months of this year than in the whole of 2008,” says 43-year-old Ken. “Experts say the recession will last until the end of the year, so I guess I’m going to be pretty busy. We are dealing with seven or eight planes a week that have to be repossessed. I guess in these tough times people stop paying for luxury items.”

Perhaps aware that he could be accused of wallowing in other people’s misery, he adds hastily: “Business is good, but I don’t go round with a smile on my face. Times are tough and a lot of people are hurting out there.”

Ken’s firm has recently taken delivery of a twin-engine Gulfstream executive jet that, when new, cost more than £25million.

The 12-seater – which once belonged to a property company that has fallen on hard times –

is kitted out with every conceivable luxury.

There are leather seats, gold-plated seatbelts and taps, a flatscreen TV and an onboard telephone system.

“It’s something you’d expect to see Elvis flying around in,” says Ken. “This jet smells of money.”

“It is all a bit too gaudy for my taste, but whoever had this wanted to give the impression that they had money – there is gold everywhere.”

Ken and his team of repo men, including two pilots, “collected” the jet from a private airfield in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, after the owners failed to keep up lease payments. It is currently parked with more than two dozen other seized aircraft in the spacious hangars of his base in Orlando, Florida.

If you fancy owning it, Ken is open to offers over £2.5million, but get in there fast – so far over half a dozen interested parties have been to view the aircraft.

Since taking over the business four years ago Ken estimates to have repossessed planes and boats worth a billion dollars.

Over the years he has also repossessed a range of luxury cars, from £150,000 Bentleys to Ferraris and Maseratis.

He is called in by banks and finance firms to seize such items when owners get in arrears, then he sells them to the highest bidder, pocketing a hefty commission.

Ken accepts that taking luxury items is often traumatic for their owners, who have spent a fortune on them. He always tries to be as discreet as possible and not make a fuss. Every repossession is planned with military precision and as many as six people can be involved in a case.

To avoid confrontation he will place the plane or yacht he has been ordered to pick up under surveillance for several hours.

He explains: “It is not just the owner who is likely to be angry. It could be a management company who is looking after the plane, or even those responsible for refuelling the jet. What we are removing is

very valuable to them. Once you take away something that could end up costing them work they are not too happy.”

Father-of-four Ken rarely sees or speaks to the person whose boat or plane he is seizing. He says with a shrug: “There are times when it is unavoidable but generally we will recover a plane or

boat when people least expect it.

“There is no point in confrontations. I never call in advance because people will just try and hide what we want. I also tell the banks not to call.

“Surprise is our greatest weapon.”

And if things do turn nasty – which is increasingly likely as the recession bites – Ken immediately backs off.

“We once had to repossess two jets from a company who employed a former sports star as a pilot,” he recalls.

“If we took the jets he would be out of work so he wasn’t happy. As he came down from the cockpit he launched himself at one of my pilots and must have knocked him back 15ft. We’ve had more incidents of violence in the last three months than in the last three years combined.

“Staff have been threatened with a shovel and chased. But fortunately, we have the law on our side.”

Ken has 30 pilots who he regularly calls on to help him repossess aircraft, and he uses seven investigators to track down items.

Before he became the world’s first billion dollar repo man he worked in finance. At JP Morgan Bank he was in the mortgage department and he has also financed car loans for Chrysler Motors.

Since taking over Inter-national Recovery and Marketing, he’s personally been involved with three quarters of the hundreds of boats and planes the firm has seized.

And it doesn’t stop there – one of the more unusual items on his books was a racehorse.

The owner of the thoroughbred had fallen behind on loan payments for one of his stable of 30 horses kept in Texas, Kentucky and California. So, posing as a race fan, Ken managed to get on to the Texas property and located the horse, which had won a string of races and was worth more than £50,000.

He says: “We got talking with the trainers and gained their confidence. Once we felt the moment was right, we moved in.

“I had a trailer back up to the stable and take the horse away.”

Ken says by the time his company gets a call, the owners of planes and yachts are usually tens of thousands of pounds in arrears.

“I like to think we are removing a burden from their shoulders,” he says.

“No one likes to be behind on payments but often they don’t know what to do. Once we remove the problem they are able to get themselves sorted out.

“One woman was so happy when we came to get a boat her husband had bought. They were struggling with mortgage payments so taking the boat away meant she had one less problem.”

And it also meant that Ken’s firm was a few thousand quid richer.


June 2009: £21million seven bedroom Mayfair townhouse, complete with swimming

pool, was the luxury pad of property tycoon Cevdet Caner. It was repossessed by his mortgage lender last week.

February 2009: £2.5million Melville House in Fife. The 17th-century Palladian mansion was one of Scotland’s finest stately homes.

January 2009: £1.95million Grade II listed Earls Croome Court in Worcestershire.

December 2008-Feb 2009: Kerry Katona’s £300,000 fleet of luxury cars, including two Porsches, Lamborghini, Aston Martin and Range Rover.

September 2008: £11million Holland Park mansion.

September 2008: £3.6million Clifton Hall, Nottinghamshire. Anwar Rashid handed the property to the bank after his family was terrified by ghosts.


Category: Bank

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