Body multi-millionaire's son was found floating in Thames by canoeist
21st October 2020

Body of multi-millionaire’s son, 36, was found floating in the Thames by canoeist almost three months after he mysteriously vanished after leaving pub near George Clooney’s £12million Berkshire home, inquest hears

  • Alexander Stern, 36, last seen in Sonning-on-Thames, Berkshire, on January 11
  • No trace of Mr Stern – the son of stationery tycoon Ronald Stern – was found
  • That was until April 3, when a badly-decomposed man’s body discovered in river
  • Inquest at Reading Coroner’s Court said how he ended up in the river is unknown

The body of a multi-millionaire’s son was found floating in the River Thames by a canoeist almost three months after he mysteriously disappeared, an inquest heard. 

Alexander Stern was last seen dragging a suitcase behind him just a few yards from the home of Hollywood actor George Clooney in Sonning-on-Thames, Berkshire, on January 11.

Despite huge searches by police in and around the swollen and flooded river, no trace of 36-year-old Mr Stern – the son of stationery tycoon Ronald Stern – was found.

That was until April 3, when Thames Valley Police said a badly-decomposed man’s body was discovered in the river about two miles downstream near Charvil. 

An inquest into Mr Stern’s death at Reading Coroner’s Court today said the mystery of how Mr Stern ended up in the river is still unsolved. 

The body of multi-millionaire’s son Alexander Stern, 36, was found floating in the River Thames by a man paddling a canoe almost three months after he mysteriously disappeared, an inquest heard 

Mr Stern was carrying a rucksack and dragging a suitcase (pictured in CCTV footage) when he left The Bull Inn pub in Sonning around 7.30pm on January 11

Senior coroner for Berkshire Heidi Connor said: ‘[Mr Stern] has been found deceased on April 4 in the River Thames, within the Berkshire jurisdiction. 

‘It would appear that his body has been found by somebody out using his canoe. 

Despite huge searches by police in and around the swollen and flooded river in Sonning, no trace of 36-year-old Mr Stern (pictured) – the son of stationery tycoon Ronald Stern – was found 

‘A post mortem examination has been carried out by a doctor at the Royal Berkshire Hospital and unfortunately the cause of death is unascertained.’

Mrs Connor said a full inquest would be listed for January 4 next year, where the days leading up to Mr Stern’s disappearance would be fully explored.

It was thought other members of the Stern family, including Ronald Stern, could be called to give evidence. 

The Ferrari-collecting tycoon once famously sold one of his expensive Italian cars for a staggering £21 million.

The family home is an £8million mansion in Hampstead, London but Mr Stern – himself a former property company owner and director – was living in Kensington, west London. 

Witnesses said Mr Stern was carrying a rucksack when he left The Bull Inn pub in Sonning, Berkshire, around 7.30pm on January 11.  

He was captured on CCTV walking towards Sonning Bridge.

A few days later it was revealed that a postman had found a rucksack on the bridge above the Thames, which was swollen and flooded following a series of storms. 

CCTV shows Mr Stern ordering at the bar of the The Bull Inn in Sonning, Berkshire, before leaving a short while later wheeling a suitcase and walking towards Sonning Bridge

The pub (pictured) is a stone’s throw from the £12million converted mill house where George and Amal Clooney have lived since 2014

One image showed Alexander in the bar of The Bull. Another showed him leaving the pub and wheeling a suitcase along the street, heading past Coppa Club towards Sonning Bridge. 

The Environment Agency warned the Thames was swollen following weeks of relentless rain. 

Many riverside footpaths were under water and people could be swept into the raging watercourses. 

Search teams looked all around the flooded Thames at Sonning – where ex-PM Theresa May lives and where Clooney and wife Amal have a £10million converted millhouse.  

Adjourning the inquest of Mr Stern, Mrs Connor said: ‘I would like to record my condolences to his family and friends at this time.’

A number of search and rescue operations were carried out with the assistance of the Berkshire Lowland Search and Rescue Team, as fears that Alexander might have fallen into the fast-flowing River Thames grew.

Alexander was the director of his own real estate company. 

He had registered his firm ‘Merchant Real Estate Ltd’ at Companies’ House on March 23, 2016. 

He dissolved the company just over a year later in the summer of 2017 for unknown reasons.

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