In the early 2000s, Allen Stanford was living the good life. He had lots of money, a lavish lifestyle and practically an entire island country as his own private kingdom. Literally he was knighted by the country of Antigua. Then he lost it all.

Today the one-time high-flying financier is serving a 110-year prison sentence after being convicted of running a giant Ponzi scheme and fraud.

This is the story of how Allen Stanford went from enjoying a $2 billion fortune to serving a life sentence.

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Early Life

Robert Allen Stanford was born on March 24, 1950 in the tiny town of Mexia, Texas. His father was actually the mayor at one point, but the family was not well-off. Money became especially scarce after his parents divorced he and his brother moved to Fort Worth with their mother.

Allen earned a BA finance from Baylor University. After working for a time as a bookkeeper and insurance salesman, he decided to try his luck in the fitness industry. In the 1970s he opened a gym for bodybuilders. Unfortunately, it did not succeed.

In the years following the the gym’s failure, Allen and his father began buying real estate. After an oil bubble burst in the 1980s, the father/son team bought vast swaths of property for pennies on the dollar. As the market recovered, they sold portions of their real estate empire, making a fortune in the process.

In 1985, Allen moved to the Caribbean island of Montserrat, where he established Stanford International Bank. In 1990, after a…

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