Fidel Castro long told Cubans he lived off of a meager salary. But the Cuban leader, who died Saturday at the age of 90, passed away a very wealthy man — and he reportedly had been for many years.
Forbes Magazine, perhaps the news outlet best-known for tracking the net worth of wealthy individuals, made international waves in 2006 when it listed Castro among the richest world leaders. Despite being the leader of a communist country, the magazine pegged Castro's wealth at $900 million a decade ago. A large portion of that staggering wealth reportedly came from the Cuban leader wielding control over state-backed interests, including a convention center, a pharmaceuticals company and a retail chain.
Castro, of course, denied the reports of his massive wealth. But Forbes wrote at the time that "former Cuban officials insist Castro, who travels exclusively in a fleet of black Mercedes, has skimmed profits from these outfits for years."
In a country where the average monthly wage is just $20 and where food reportedly often remains scarce, Castro lived a life of luxury. Juan Reinaldo Sanchez, a longtime Castro bodyguard, wrote a 2014 book detailing the leader's cozy existence, reported Australia's News Corp. Sanchez pegged Castro's net worth at $168 million, while revealing the leader's favorite luxuries, such as a private island, lavish spear-fishing expeditions and trips on a 85-foot yacht.
But perhaps the most stunning sign of Castro's true wealth was his compound, known as Punto Cero or Point Zero. While the leader reportedly had a number of other properties, Punta Cero was his lavish residence shrouded in secrecy, details leaking out slowly over the years. The property required four gardeners, had two chefs, six greenhouses, and, somewhat oddly, a dairy cow for each member of the Castro family, according to Sanchez's book.
Castro, meanwhile, long claimed very few assets, saying he took only a small salary and had just a fisherman's cottage off the coast.