“Money doesn’t buy happiness.”
Seldom does this idiom provoke a life story like the one you’re about to hear? Florian Homm was once known as one of the 300 richest Germans alive. He was managing his own Hedge fund worth over $3 billion. His private wealth was estimated at around $700 million.
He became a person of public interest when he saved the German football club Borussia Dortmund from bankruptcy, investing $20 million into the club when all other investors kept a safe distance. At the pinnacle of his success, he had it all: Women, wealth, cars, houses, yachts, private jets.
But on the night of September 18, 2007, he vanished without a trace. He declared his resignation from all business activities and sold all shares. Then, without telling anyone about his whereabouts, he grabbed big amounts of cash, threw away his phone, boarded one of his private jets, and disappeared from the world stage.
Meanwhile, some of his enemies have put a bounty of $1.5 million on his head, which resulted in an almost successful assassination attempt. The FBI wanted him for suspected stock market fraud and forwarded warrants to Interpol. He became a wanted man who disappeared and was on the run for 5 years.
When he came back, his life had changed.
From nobody to hedge fund elite
Florian Homm grew up in a small and unremarkable town in Germany. He received a scholarship from Harvard University as part of the German basketball youth team. There he learned all about the world of financing. How to be a shark, how to bite, how to chew.
And this scholarship turned him into one of the biggest hedge funds managers to date. He was moving millions of dollars every day. He’d bring his clients huge yields, and in turn, earn tremendous commissions.
He gained notoriety by being just as skilled as a short seller than as a long seller
A long seller bets on rising stocks and earns money by buying low and selling high. Short sellers on the other hand bet on falling prices. They essentially earn money by betting on the collapse of a company.
For Homm, it was a good way to earn more money.
“Everybody wants to earn money when the stocks rise. But why can’t I already make money on the way down? If I can cash in on the way down and on the way back up, that would be really awesome.” — Florian Homm
He later started deliberately making speculations about certain stocks that are about to crash, artificially driving them down, to then profit off the drop.
Since he made a name for himself as an expert, many people paid close attention to his prophecies, thus he was able to influence the market prices with his reports.
In 2005, he co-founded his own hedge fund company, called Absolute Capital Management Holdings (ACMH). This hedge fund leveraged more than $3 billion at its peak. Due to this success, Homm was once curated Hedge Fund Leader of the Year by Alternative Investment News.
He appeared to be as successful as he could want to be. But in 2006, he was confronted with his own mortality for the first time.
A failed robbery or a deliberate assassination attempt?
While traveling through Caracas, Venezuela, Homm, escorted by one of his bodyguards and a driver, fell victim to an armed robbery on the street. Two armed men stopped next to his car and demanded money.
After he gave the men his wallet and mobile phone, they demanded his wristwatch next, which he refused. Then one of the men opened fire.
“In my case, [being shot] didn’t hurt. I lost most of my left lung, my spleen completely. I lost so much blood, my pants and my shirt were completely red. There was even blood in my shoes.” — Florian Homm
Thanks to quick emergency surgery and dialysis of his lost blood, Homm survived the robbery. Though he is convinced that this wasn’t just an armed robbery, but a deliberate assassination attempt.
“The astounding thing about the assassination was that my bodyguard got shot in the knee, my driver was ignored entirely, and I get a shot to the chest? And I’d have gotten another shot to the head if I didn’t struggle for my life with the assailant.”
— Florian Homm
Homm stated that the driver was later interrogated by his private security team regarding possible involvement in the robbery, but he didn’t share any results.
One year later, in 2007, Homm made the decision to leave this life behind for good.
He explained that the life he led wasn’t really his anymore. He’d work 6 and a half days a week, often 16 hours per day. His phone would ring every 20 minutes. And the many toys he was able to afford became useless, as he lacked the time to enjoy them.
A yacht he bought was only used for about 6 days total. So in 2007, when he became increasingly fed up with this lifestyle, he decided to disappear.
“Enough is enough. The chapter ‘finance billionaire, maker & mover, master of the universe’, I was done with. Zero passion left. I was unhappy. So I boarded my private jet, threw away my phone, took a lot of cash with me and then the journey began. Where to exactly and which route I took, that’s nobody’s business.” — Florian Homm
He traveled across more than 50 countries, mainly spending his time sightseeing, sports, and entertainment.
“It was an inner urge to catch up with my life, which completely drowned in my ambition.” — Florian Homm
No one knew where he was. In 2011, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed civil charges against him and another member of his hedge fund for using penny stocks to pump up the volume of his own fund.
Most wanted by the FBI and arrest
In March 2013, the FBI filed criminal charges against Homm for stock market fraud and forwarded the warrant to Interpol.
Just 2 days later, local police officers identified Homm in Italy after being tipped off by the FBI.
“I was together with my ex-wife, my son Conrad and his girlfriend. We were in the Uffizi gallery in Florence — it’s the most beautiful art museum in Italy. Suddenly, 6 people surrounded me and arrested me in front of my ex-wife, son, and his girlfriend. Then they escorted me out of the museum with covered handcuffs like in a James Bond movie and drove me to a villa that was not recognizable as a police station — it’s called a Squadra Mobile — they are the absolute elite unit of the Italian police forces. And then began a real trauma.” — Florian Homm
Homm was taken into extradition custody in Pisa, Italy. If he’d be extradited to the USA, he’d face a sentence of up to 225 years for the charges brought up against him.
Homm describes his time in prison as a time of complete despair.
“Absolute hopelessness, because I felt facing against gigantic state institutions like America — incredibly powerful — and Switzerland. Hopelessness, my life’s over, multiple sclerosis, 260 years of prison, a shitty prospect, no possibility to move around, this was the worst. Your life as you know it, is over.”
— Florian Homm
During his time in prison, he fell into despair and at one point even contemplated suicide. But he found faith in Christianity and regained his will to move on, guided by the holy Mary.
A year later, he was released from custody because the maximum duration for extradition has been exceeded. He immediately moved to Germany. At the time, Germany didn’t investigate against him and does not extradite its own citizens to countries outside the European Union.
A new life
The faith he found during his time in the Italian prison changed Homm from being an ambitious businessman and wanted fugitive to a faithful Christian and philanthropist. His life after prison couldn’t be more different from the man he once was.
“I think I’d have done some things differently. But I’m definitely thankful for this life — for being still alive — and now having been given a second life which is completely different from the first one.” — Florian Homm
Being asked if he’d again become a hedge fund manager, his answer is clear.
I believe it’s been an awesome time because now I can use these resources, these skills in a charitable way too. That’s what feels really exciting, using these abilities in a completely different way. I wouldn’t have those skills if I didn’t move as the absolute top of the pyramid in this hardcore business for two decades.”
— Florian Homm
And it shows. Instead of an expensive luxury car, he’s driving around in an old station wagon. He published a book titled Rogue Financier about the mistakes of his life. The proceedings from the book are donated in full to the Liberia Renaissance Foundation, a Swiss-based charity foundation to support school children in Liberia.
He co-founded the Our Lady’s Message of Mercy to the World Foundation, which focuses on strengthening Christian values and supports children with disabilities.
In 2014, He spoke at the University of Applied Management in Erding, (German video) Germany, about his conversion to Christianity, work ethics, and the reasons for his life change.
Now he’s running his own vlog on Youtube in German, talking about financing and sharing what he learned.
He can also be seen in the 2018 movie Generation Wealth, a documentary about our current culture and society, exploring our need for materialism, social standing, and wealth.
In his prime, he was dubbed the antichrist of the stock exchange. Now he is seeking redemption in the faith of a Christian, using his skills for charity.
“I’m looking at this with both a sense of irony, and a sense of respect, because I don’t want to fall back into that habit again. Because it would be easy for me to earn money again. You can’t imagine how easy it has always been for me to earn money.” — Florian Homm
Source citation and disclaimer
Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Florian Homm or any of the links provided in this article. All links are included for educational purposes and completeness of the information provided. I give credit, where credit is due.
https://youtu.be/5HrkYu68IjQ (documentary — German audio)
https://youtu.be/Oh8ioxM9Ghc (interview — German audio)
Title image provided by Frank Lübke Photography
Frank Lübke is a professional contemporary photographer, his portrait photos have gained international attention. With his project “Me, myself, and I”, he captures prominent people in front of his camera in a collision of worlds, where changed people face their alter ego.
His photo of Florian Homm perfectly reflects his transformation from an ambitious businessman to a devote Christian.