Mick Norcross was 'battling £6.5m cash crisis' before sudden death
Mick Norcross was ‘battling £6.5million cash crisis’ before sudden death: Ex-Sugar Hut boss said to be facing £1.5m loss on housing project and owed £5.2m on hotel revamp before being found dead after cryptic final tweet
- The businessman was pronounced dead by emergency services in Essex at 3.15pm on Thursday afternoon
- On January 4, his co-star and son Kirk, 32, shared a selfie on Facebook showing him sitting with his grinning father, adding the caption: ‘Me and the big man’, with a heart emoji
- Mick’s haunting last tweet was posted on Thursday morning at 7.17am, just hours before he was found, reading: ‘At the end remind yourself that you did the best you could. And that is good enough.’
- The reality TV star made his TOWIE debut in 2011 during the show’s second season, while Kirk was part of the original cast when the hit reality show began a year prior
- He was introduced as Sugar Hut’s owner, a nightclub in Brentwood and popular filming location for the show
Mick Norcross suffered a ‘huge’ financial blow before he was found dead after facing a £1.5million loss on a luxury housing project because of ‘drainage problems’ while owing £5.2million in bank loans on his hotel renovation project hit by the coronavirus pandemic and going £1million over budget, MailOnline can reveal today.
The Sugar Hut’s ex-owner, property developer and reality star, who rose to fame as the man behind the nightclub on the hit ITV2 series, was discovered at his mansion in Bulphan, Essex, by emergency services on Thursday afternoon.
Mr Norcross was seen ‘looking pale’ and ‘didn’t look too well’ at around 8.30am yesterday – just hours before his death, neighbours told MailOnline.
In a tragic final tweet, posted just before his body was found, he wrote: ‘At the end remind yourself that you did the best you could. And that is good enough.’ He is survived by his sons Kirk, Mason, Daniel and daughter Hollie. He also has three grandchildren.
Essex Police have not confirmed the cause of Mick’s death, or if it was suicide, but said it was not being treated as suspicious. But fellow TOWIE stars and friends have suggested he was battling depression and suicidal thoughts.
Mick had sold the Sugar Hut nightclub in 2019 and concentrated on his property businesses. Before his death he was developing the famous Grand Hotel in Leigh-on-Sea near Southend into 18 luxury flats, which remains unfinished.
He was also building five luxury houses in Bulphan, called the Bonham Grange Estate, where the asking price for a five-bedroom property is £1.75million. But some of the properties have been on the market since November 2019 and remain unsold. Mick lived in a mansion in the same village, which he designed and built himself. He also had an antiques shop in nearby Brentwood.
But sources close to the late building developer told MailOnline Mick was set to make £5million on the Bonham Grange project but due to drainage issues and the financial cost of repairing damage, his payout was expected to be slashed to £3.5million. It is believed the financial loss was the latest in a long line of money issues Mick had suffered over the past two years, made worse by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The source said: ‘Mick was struggling. A few of his businesses had become problematic financially and they were seriously worrying him. He was hoping to receive £5million from the Bonham Grange estate which would have provided a timely boost, but drainage issues and the subsequent effect on the development saw his big pay-day slashed by around 1.5million. It was a huge blow to him.’
Heartbreaking: TOWIE’s Mick Norcross was seen beaming next to his son Kirk in his final picture, taken three weeks before he was been found dead aged 57
Mick had sold the Sugar Hut nightclub in 2019 and concentrated on his property businesses. Before his death he was developing the famous Grand Hotel in Leigh-on-Sea into 18 luxury flats (pictured today) but owed £5.2m in loans and it was already £1m over budget
Mick was also building five luxury houses in Bulphan, called the Bonham Grange Estate (pictured), close to his home. But it is said to have had drainage problems and Mick was looking at making £1.5million less than expected, an insider told MailOnline
The executive properties (pictured) have an asking price for a five-bedroom property is on the market for £1.75million. Some have been on the market since 2019
Mick Norcross was found dead in his Essex Mansion (pictured today) where his son Kirk is also understood to live. A woman left flowers there today after his death
Flowers were also left at the Sugar Hut nightclub in Brentwood, Essex, after the death of businessman Mick Norcross, who owned it until 2019
Tragic: Mick haunting last tweet, posted on Thursday morning at 7.17am, read: ‘At the end remind yourself that you did the best you could. And that is good enough.’
Mario Falcone has spoken out about how Mick Norcross reached out to him during the height of his battle with depression back in 2012, following the businessman’s tragic death on Thursday.
The TOWIE star, 32, paid tribute to his former co-star, who was pronounced dead at his home in Essex by emergency services on Thursday afternoon aged 57.
Mario, who starred on the show between 2011 and 2018, said he looked up to Mick ‘in the highest regard’, after the businessman reached out to him when Mario tragically tried to take his own life eight years ago.
Grieving: The TOWIE star, 32, paid tribute to his former co-star, who was found dead at his home in Essex by emergency services on Thursday afternoon aged 57
The television personality previously spoke about how he tried to commit suicide during the height of his fame after a painful and televised split with his ex-fiancee Lucy Mecklenburgh.
Sharing a photo with former Sugar Hut owner Mick, Mario wrote: ‘This one is very hard to accept. I had so much respect and admiration for this man.
‘I had the honour of filming with him a lot on TOWIE and also to be good friends away from the show.
‘When I went through my battle with depression and suicide you were the only one from the whole show that reached out and cared about me. You were someone I looked up to and held in the highest regard. The thought of you going through the same pain and emotional darkness I did breaks my heart.
‘You will be sorely missed by so many!
‘Thank you for the many memories in the sugar hut, the wild parties, the advice and dropping me off to get my R8. The world has lost a very good man.
‘RIP Mick Norcross.’
Three cars – including one thought to belong to Mick’s son Daniel – left the family home today at 2.30pm.
They friends and relatives declined to comment.
Well wishers have been dropping off condolence cards and flowers throughout their day.
Mr Norcross also owed £5.2 million in bank loans on his hotel renovation project, accounts show. The businessman’s company 460 Leisure Ltd is restoring The Grand Hotel in Leigh-On-Sea in Essex.
Speaking last year, Mick, 57, revealed that the restoration project was coming in more than £1million over budget. And then the pandemic took hold, delaying the opening.
His firm said in April last year that they hoped to finish the project in ‘circa 18 months’.
Accounts for 460 Leisure filed in November, showed that the firm was £984,908 in the red and the books said bank loans stood at £5,216,666 for 2019 – up from £2.6m the previous year. The outfit had just £3,600 in its coffers at the time the figures were compiled.
Mick said of the project a year ago: ‘There is still work to be done with the building of the five storeys and we have had a lot of steelwork to do on the foundations’.
He also noted that the hotel chimneys had been deemed to be not safe enough to keep and new ones would be built. ‘Nevertheless, we are getting on with the work, but it will cost us over £1million above our original estimate,’ Mick explained.
A local friend told MailOnline: ‘Mick walked past and said ‘good morning’. He was always a lovely, polite man. But my daughter said that he didn’t look too well and was pale as he went past. He was found dead just a matter of a few hours later’. Two police cars and two ambulances were seen outside Mick’s property yesterday at around 3.30pm where he was found dead.
Former TOWIE co-stars Mark Wright and Mario Falcone hinted that Mick was battling depression and suicidal thoughts, which have increased markedly, especially amongst men, during repeated national lockdowns since last March.
Mr Wright tweeted: ‘Such a gent. We lost a good one. Let this be ANOTHER reason to check in on people and ask if they are ok. It’s imperative we talk. Love to Kirk and the rest of the family. such sad news.’
Mario wrote on Instagram: ‘When I went through my battle with depression and suicide you were the only one from the whole show that reached out and cared about me. You were someone I looked up to and held in the highest regard. The thought of you going through the same pain and emotional darkness I did breaks my heart’. Gemma Collins said: ‘You never know what someone is going through’.
Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, an Essex boy and friend of Mick’s paid tribute to his ‘gentleman’ friend and another pal who recently died. He tweeted: ‘Two men I know have taken their lives in the last few days. Please if you are struggling, talk to someone close to you’, before sharing phone numbers for mental health charities Mind, Samaritans and The Calm Zone.
Twice-married Mick was romantically linked to a number of TOWIE stars including Maria Fowler, Chloe Sims and Gemma Collins, before finding love with his former Sugar Hut Honey, Samantha Keahey, who went on to become the nightclub brand’s office. Mick and Samantha were last seen together in early December is a series of Instagram photos that appeared to be in his mansion’s garden.
He previously admitted having having struggles with mental health and his tendency to erect a ‘hard exterior’ when the going got tough and struggling to talk to family about problems without it ‘turning into a shouting match’.
His son Kirk, 32, who lives with his father, previously revealed that his appearances in the show caused him to consider suicide, telling The Sun in 2019: ‘Reality TV turned me into a monster’.
Reality TV shows have come under fire in recent years after a spate of stars committed suicide. Caroline Flack, presenter of fellow ITV2 series Love Island, was found dead aged 40 in her home on Valentine’s Day last year.
Mike Thalassitis, 26, and Sophie Gradon, 32, also killed themselves after appearing in Love Island in 2018 and 2019 respectively. And in May 2019, Steve Dymond, 63, killed himself after appearing on The Jeremy Kyle Show, another ITV2 production.
As well as the Bonham Grange development, Mick was also creating six other executive houses in the same site. Speaking in 2018,
Mick admitted he had ‘regrets’ getting into the nightclub industry, saying: ‘I’ve probably got regrets about getting involved with the nightclub industry if I’m honest with you, the restaurants and bars.
‘When I say regrets, it’s been really time consuming and a financial strain to operate those type of businesses. They’re not easy.
‘Everyone might think that they’re glamorous and everyone wants to have a go at owning a bar and that, but they’re not easy. It is a tough, tough game to keep on top of. And I invested heavily in that and if I have any regrets…maybe I wouldn’t have invested as heavily in that because it’s taken its toll on me in terms of the time I’ve had to put into to it and maybe that time could have been better directed elsewhere’.
Heartbreaking: As well as pictures with Kirk, Mick’s girlfriend Samantha Keahey shared a number of shots of the couple, including sweet images taken last month
Heartbreaking: Mick is pictured with his girlfriend Samantha Keahey, who were last seen together last month
Starring role: The Sugar Hut owner and reality star, who rose to fame as the man behind the nightclub on the hit ITV2 series, was discovered at his home in Bulphan, Essex, by emergency services on Thursday afternoon
Another neighbour told how he had spoken to Mick on Tuesday and said: ‘We just had a neighbourly chit chat, that’s all really.
‘To me he seemed ok, nothing out the ordinary but you don’t always know what is going on in people’s minds.
‘He was with one of his workmen and they were looking into a ditch on the road outside his house. We’ve had some issues with flooding locally in recent days so it may have had something to do with that.
‘But I asked him how he was and he said he was alright and he seemed in fairly good spirits. Mick was such a lovely fella, he’d go out of his way to help you. It’s so sad.’
Mick Norcross was seen beaming next to his son Kirk in his final picture taken three weeks before he was found dead aged 57 as shocked TOWIE stars and friends suggested he was battling a secret bout of depression before he died.
On January 4, Kirk, 32, shared a selfie on Facebook showing him sitting alongside his grinning father, adding the caption: ‘Me and the big man’, with a heart emoji. Mick is survived by his sons Kirk, Mason, Daniel and daughter Hollie. He also has three grandchildren.
The businessman had spoken out about his regrets around appearing on the show which he said he did to promote his nightclub.
He said in 2018: ‘My son and I were part of the show for a couple of years but it was very demanding.
‘And what it did to me as a person was quite a strange thing, taking me from somebody nobody really knows to somebody that everyone knows because you’re a household name so to speak.’
In an episode of the programme in 2011, Mick referenced his mental health in a conversation with Kirk, saying: ‘Maybe there’s bits of my life where I haven’t been there for you so it’s hard for me to see where I’m going wrong…
‘I wasn’t there enough for you growing up but I want you to know I’m here for you now. I want to do the things we didn’t do and still can do. I’m quite a hard person and it’s difficult for me to show my emotions and that’s not me making an excuses and it doesn’t mean I don’t love you and I don’t want you around me.
‘I just put this hard exterior up sometimes. Any time you get upset let’s not end up having a shouting match over it. Talk to me. With women, that’s where I push buttons. Unfortunately in what I do, I am surrounded by women from 20 years of age to 35 years of age.’
When Kirk voiced concerns over women taking advantage of Mick, he went on: ‘Really Kirk it’s not your decision, with me you might think I’m having a great time and that but every night I come to this house on my own, I live on my own, it’s empty, it’s nothing.’
On Thursday, Mick sent shockwaves around the TV world when news arose of his passing, and while Kirk has so far remained silent, the haunting last picture has emerged.
As well as pictures with Kirk, Mick’s girlfriend Samantha Keahey shared a number of shots of the couple last year, including sweet images taken last month.
Mick is survived by his sons Kirk, Mason, Daniel and daughter Hollie. He also has three grandchildren. The star made his TOWIE debut in 2011 during the show’s second season, while son Kirk was part of the original cast.
The businessman was introduced as the owner of Sugar Hut, a nightclub in Brentwood which was a popular filming location for the show. During his time on the show, Mick caught the attention of Gemma Collins, 39, who soon developed a crush on him.
One of his most notable storylines was when, at a pool party for the second series finale, Gemma was convinced Mick was bringing a bottle of champagne over to her, but was instead snubbed when the Sugar Hut owner walked past her and presented the bubbly to Lauren Goodger’s sister Nicola.
Gemma led the tributes, writing on Instagram: ‘ALWAYS A GENTLEMAN. Absolutely shocked and saddened by the news. My thoughts and prayers are going out to Kirk family and friends absolutely tragic #ripmicknorcross
‘The memories of the early days the sugar hut and the wonderful filming parties you put on will never be forgotten. You never know what someone is going through you was [sic] one of the good guys.’
An Essex Police spokesman told MailOnline: ‘We were called to an address in Bulphan shortly before 3.15pm on Thursday 21 January. Sadly, a man inside was pronounced dead. His death is not being treated as suspicious and a file will be prepared for the coroner.’
Tributes from the property developer’s TOWIE co-stars and celebrity friends were soon posted in response to Mick’s heartbreaking final tweet.
TOWIE veteran James Argent called the property developer: ‘A true gentleman & a very kind man’. James, 33, wrote: ‘RIP Mick. Many amazing memories, So Sad! My thoughts are with his family.’
Mario Falcone, who starred on the show between 2011 to 2018 posted a broken heart emoji, as did Elliott Wright, who appeared on TOWIE between 2010 and 2017.
Jamie Reed, who had a brief stint on the reality series, chimed: ‘Very sad. RIP’.
EOTB star Jess Impiazzi, who was one of Mick’s original ‘Sugar Hut Honeys’ – a group of hostesses in the club – typed: ‘Please don’t ever feel like no one is there or wants to listen, you matter! You’re loved!…And the world is better with you in it. There is always light at the end of the tunnel! I promise.’
Mick sold Sugar Hut in 2019, having previously gone on to develop a property portfolio, including The Grand Hotel in Leigh. The businessman shelled out £4.3m for the site back in 2011 and dreamed of turning the derelict building into a boutique hotel,restaurant and spa.
However, despite extensive renovation, restoration work took longer than planned and the hotel is still yet to open. The same year Mick bought the hotel, he put his £3.4million converted farmhouse up for sale. The mansion, which was also a regular filming location during his time, was the envy of TOWIE viewers.
The estate also boasted a private house where Kirk lived with his girlfriend at the time Lauren Pope, a hot tub and plasma screen TVs. After putting up the house on sale, Mick said, ‘I’ve been here six years and I’ve completely refurbished this place. Now I’m ready to move on to another project.’
Police outside the mansion home of Mick Norcross yesterday evening, after the TOWIE star was found dead earlier this afternoon
A police car and a forensic investigation van were parked outside Mr Norcross’ home in Bulphan, Essex, after he was found dead on Thursday afternoon
Gemma Collins said she was ‘absolutely shocked and saddened by the news’ as she said Mick was ‘always a gentleman’
Well loved: Tributes from the property developer’s TOWIE co-stars and celebrity friends were soon posted on Mick’s heartbreaking final tweet
Millionaire: Mick was known as the businessman of Essex on the hit ITV2 show, but eventually sold the Brentwood nightclub in 2019 (pictured)
Mick made a hefty profit for £2.2million after buying the house in 2005 for £1.2million.
It is the first tragedy to strike the TOWIE cast since Patricia Brooker, known as Nanny Pat, died aged 80 in 2015.
Reality TV has been hit with a number of tragic young deaths in recent years, including perhaps most notably, Love Island host Caroline Flack, who took her own life at her north-east London home last February aged 40.
Before that, the programme was rocked by the death of Mike Thalassitis, who hanged himself in a park after an alcohol and cocaine binge aged just 26, an inquest was told in 2019.
A decade earlier, there was widespread mourning over the death of Big Brother’s Jade Goody, who died of cervical cancer at 27, after being hailed for her work in raising awareness and encouraging women to get checked.
Reliving the famous scene with Gemma Collins, Mick previously said he regretted reducing the boutique owner to tears in an interview with The Sun that year.
He said at the time: ‘I had no idea that Gemma was so upset. I think someone may have told her I was going to come over to her rather than Nicola. But I never meant to hurt her. I hate the thought of upsetting anyone.’
Mick and Kirk are pictured in a promo shot for 2011’s third season of TOWIE
Nightclub owner: The businessman rose to fame as the owner of Sugar Hut nightclub on the ITV series The Only Way Is Essex (pictured in 2012)
The star made his TOWIE debut in 2011 during the show’s second season, while son Kirk was part of the original cast when the show began a year prior.
Mick went on to have a brief romance with Maria Fowler, who also starred on the show and was 13 years his junior. He quit TOWIE in 2013, after being left furious the nightclub was being used a battleground on the show.
Sugar Hut became known for its high-publicised feuds on the show with huge rows between central characters such as Mark Wright and Lauren Goodger, as well as former on-off couple Chloe Sims and Mark’s cousin Elliott.
He told The Sun at the time of his departure: ‘My club is an upmarket venue where people come to drink champagne and feel spoiled. All these rows they keep filming don’t show the club in a good light and I’m worried it’s putting people off coming, which is the last thing I want.’
Mick described his time on TOWIE as ‘very demanding’ and ‘what it did to me as a person was quite a strange thing’ as he struggled from being ‘somebody nobody really knows’ to ‘a household name so to speak’.
Sweet: Mick is pictured at the 2012 Inside Soap Awards alongside his fleet of hostesses, the Sugar Hut Honeys – including Love Island winner Hannah Elizabeth (seen kissing the star)
Heartache: Love Island star Mike Thalassitis and host Caroline Flack both died from suicide in 2019 and 2020 respectively
Drama: When TOWIE debuted in 2010, Sugar Hut was the place to be and where much of the drama unfolded (Jessica Wright, Lauren Goodger, Amy Childs, Mark Wright and James Argent pictured in 2011)
Shock: Mick’s nightclub was a key feature on the show, which also starred his fleet of hostesses – known as The Sugar Hut Honeys (pictured)
He said during an interview with Echo News about why he joined TOWIE in 2018 that ‘it was a decision I took just to try to manoeuvre the business – the Sugar Hut – in the right way, I needed it to be portrayed in the right light and being part of the show that was the only way I could do that.’
Mick added: ‘I didn’t want them to just come and ride roughshod over the business and portray it how they wanted, people having fights in the club and what have you.
‘That would never be right and even the relationship with my son, I needed that to come across right. But it got to the stage where it really wasn’t where I needed to be in life.’
Mick pictured at the Royal World Premiere of ‘Skyfall’ at Royal Albert Hall on October 23, 2012 in London
Mick Norcross’ TOWIE moments
MARCH 2011: Mick makes his TOWIE entrance, when Kirk attempts to set Gemma Collins up with his dad. After Gemma voiced her desire to find a ‘Danny Dyer-Tony Soprano’ style older man, Kirk insisted Mick would be ‘perfect’. Despite his best efforts, the businessman seemed more enticed by fellow newcomer Chloe Sims.
APRIL 2011: Despite his attentions continuing to point to Chloe, Gemma continued in her quest for Mick as she famously left an apple pie on his doorstep however he does not realise it is a gift from the boutique owner.
Gemma continued in her quest for Mick as she famously left an apple pie on his doorstep
MAY 2011: In one of the show’s most iconic scenes, Gemma is left heartbroken when she believes Mick is approaching her with a bottle of champagne at Mark Wright’s pool party however he is in fact heading toward Lauren Goodger’s sister Nicola. He later said of the scene: ‘I had no idea that Gemma was so upset. I think someone may have told her I was going to come over to her rather than Nicola. But I never meant to hurt her. I hate the thought of upsetting anyone.’
SEPTEMBER 2011: Mick sparks up a romance with Maria Fowler – an enemy to Kirk – however the following month he ends the relationship over rumours flying around Essex about their relationship.
In one of the show’s most iconic scenes, Gemma is left heartbroken when she believes Mick is approaching her with a bottle of champagne
OCTOBER 2011: Mick confesses to Kirk that he feels lonely and would like some company ‘Maybe there’s bits of my life where I haven’t been there for you so it’s hard for me to see where I’m going wrong…
‘I wasn’t there enough for you growing up but I want you to know I’m here for you now. I want to do the things we didn’t do and still can do. I’m quite a hard person and it’s difficult for me to show my emotions and that’s not me making an excuses and it doesn’t mean I don’t love you and I don’t want you around me and I just put this hard exterior up sometimes…
‘Any time you get upset let’s not end up having a shouting match over it. Talk to me. With women, that’s where I push buttons. Unfortunately in what I do, I am surrounded by women from 20 years of age to 35 years of age.’ When Kirk voiced concerns over women taking advantage of Mick, he went on: ‘Really Kirk it’s not your decision, with me you might think I’m having a great time and that but every night I come to this house on my own, I live on my own, it’s empty, it’s nothing.’
APRIL 2012: Mick is left in shock when a blaze breaks out at his Essex mansion after which he was treated for smoke inhalation while Kirk suffered minor cuts after attempting to put out the fire that broke out an upstairs rooms around 2.30pm. He spoke of the fire on the show and showed Mario Falcone the damage on-screen.
MAY 2012: Mick invites a number of the TOWIE boys around for a poker night to christen his new man cave since his home renovation
MARCH 2013: Mick announced his departure from the show after five series and banned filming in his club after becoming displeased with the reputation of fighting and fury among castmembers within the luxury establishment. He said: ‘My club is an upmarket venue where people come to drink champagne and feel spoiled. All these rows they keep filming don’t show the club in a good light and I’m worried it’s putting people off coming, which is the last thing I want.’
Mick announced his departure from the show after five series and banned filming in his club
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