He is the reclusive Danish billionaire with a radical environmental mission who has become Scotland's biggest landowner.

But the life of Anders Holch Povlsen, who has lost three of his four children in the Sri Lanka terror attack, has always been dogged by trauma 

The holder of more than £100 million of Highland property, Mr Povlsen's reported £3.76 billion fortune comes from the international fashion business Bestseller founded by his father and he is also the biggest shareholder in the British online fashion company Asos.

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In a series of piecemeal acquisitions, the 44-year-old has bought 11 Scottish estates, including Glen Feshie in the Cairngorms, and recently made yet another purchase – the 18,000-acre Eriboll estate in Sutherland for £7 million, bringing his total to more then 200,000 acres.

He remains a very private man, and despite a taste for fast cars and private jets and friendship with the Danish Royal Family, is little-known in the country he has launched his eco-campaign.


A view to Glen Feshie

Dubbing the idea 'rewilding', he wants to return the estates back to their "magnificent natural state" and repair the harm that man has inflicted on them through a reported £100 million investment programme to return them wilderness and realise his dream of creating an eco-tourism paradise.

The 'rewilding' plans are already under way at Glen Feshie, where a large deer population – once encouraged to feed the stalking industry – had destroyed the natural habitat.

It is all a long way from the tiny Danish town of Brande, with a population of just 7,000, where Povlsen's father, Troels, opened the family's first clothes store in 1975. Other outlets soon followed. And Anders was only 27 when Troels made him the sole owner of Bestseller.

By 2007, it was so successful that supermodel Gisele Bundchen was hired to promote it.

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However, the family's growing wealth brought a darker side to their lives. In 1998, the Povlsens were subjected to a ten-month reign of terror by an extortionist called Kurt Hansen, who threatened to kill family members if he didn't receive £1 million.

Hansen, 34, sent a series of letters, scratched his initials on to family cars and eventually broke into the Povlsen family home, leaving a note a few yards from where they slept.

He was subsequently arrested carrying three sets of handcuffs, ankle cuffs, tape, a pistol and flammable liquids. Officers later found disguises, a wetsuit, a book on poisoning and a secret room under the floorboards of Hansen's home.


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Then, in 2003, a close family friend was kidnapped in India – where the firm has factories – by a gang that mistook him for one of the Povlsens. He was finally rescued by local police after a dramatic car chase.

Troels Povlsen said at the time: "The gang thought he was my son. There's no doubt that was why they picked him up, to blackmail me and get money out of Bestseller. We treat people well in the area and that's possibly why police organised a very effective rescue mission."

In his home country, the fashion magnate lives with his wife Anne, a former employee at Bestseller, and theirfamily, at Constantinsborg, a former royal palace near Aarhus, Denmark's second city.


The Kinara Estate, near Aviemore, is among the Dane's holdings

Thomas MacDonell, Povlsen's director of conservation, says that Mr Povlsen's love of Scotland was inspired by traditional family holidays. He says: "Anders is very normal and, if you saw him in the street, you would not think he is a tremendously wealthy guy. He is pretty anonymous."

The Dane's remarkable spending spree began in 2006 with the £8 million acquisition of the 42,000-acre Glen Feshie estate, which had been badly damaged by excessive numbers of deer. In 2008, He spent a total of £15.5 million on estates covering 27,400 acres at Braeroy near Fort William, nearby Tulloch and Lynaberack in the Cairngorms.

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He bought Kinloch near Tongue with its 19,000 acres in 2011 for £5.1 million. The following year he added 24,000 acres at Ben Loyal for £6.9 million. In 2013, Povlsen bought the 20,000-acre Gaick estate in the Cairngorms from the French luxury goods heir Xavier Louis Vuitton for £2.17 million, and in 2015 he paid £15 million for the 17th Century Aldourie Castle on the shores of Loch Ness.


Loch Eriboll

Mr Povlsen has also bought the Eriboll estate, and spent £2 million on the 6,234-acre Polla estate near Durness, as well as snapping up the 21,000-acre Strathmore estate near Altnaharra, Sutherland, for £6.45 million.

The accounts for his company, Wildland Limited, value his Scottish property empire at £100 million. 

Povlsen has worked rather more quickly. His dream of becoming Scotland's greatest laird is fuelled by his vast income by Bestseller, which employs 15,000 people and boasts nearly 6,000 shops.

He owns brands such as Jack & Jones and Vero Moda, and 27 per cent of ASOS.com.

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A former senior employee told the Daly Mail: "Anders turned around to me a few years ago and said, "Look, I have a good life. I have everything I need and a nice watch that works. What else do I need?'

"I remember that the watch was an inexpensive Citizen. He drove a VW Golf for years, but has upgraded to a Tesla electric car. He is very concerned about the environment so they tick all his boxes."

The former employee added: "Anders works 12-hour days so there is not much time for socialising. He hangs on to his old friends from his childhood in Brande. He knows they are genuine friends. Buying castles and estates is not about social climbing. In Scotland, he finds peace."


Anders Povlsen

According to Thomas MacDonnell, the Dane now has a 200-year vision for taking his land back to a natural state. "What we are trying to do is modernise the sporting-estate model and offer something that encourages people to come and see the estate,' MacDonnell said recently. 

"The shooting season is quite short and is a declining and some would say an old-fashioned market. If you want to build a modern holiday business, you have to offer people warmth and comfort and offer something for female guests, and this is where the spa comes in.

"Anders Povlsen has to be applauded for doing this and we wish to implement the model we have used on the Glen Feshie estate on our other estates. He had a couple of holidays in the Highlands with his parents and really liked it here. That is where his emotional attachment started."