ASOS Billionaire’s Three Children Among Victims of Easter Bombings in Sri Lanka

By Zachary Stieber

A billionaire who owns clothing giants ASOS and Bestseller and is the United Kingdom’s largest private landowner lost three children in the spate of bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.

Three of the four children of Holch Povlsen, also known as Denmark’s richest man, were killed in the attacks, which were carried out by radical Muslims.

Sri Lankan officials haven’t named the children as victims publicly but a representative for one of Povlsen’s companies did.

“Unfortunately, we can confirm the reports,” a Bestseller spokesman said in an email to the British Broadcasting Corporation. “We ask you to respect the privacy of the family and we therefore have no further comments.”

Sri Lankan military stand guard inside a church
Sri Lankan military inside a church after an explosion in Negombo, Sri Lanka, on April 21, 2019. (Stringer/Reuters)

Povlsen, 46, and his wife Anne Pedersen, 40, recently wrote a letter posted to their Wildland website in which they described their vision and said their four children would carry on the work of attempting to “rewild” Scotland.

“That responsibility has evolved to become a labor of love; a project that we are deeply passionate about,” they said in the letter. “It is a project that we know cannot be realized in our lifetime, which will bear fruit not just for our own children but also for the generations of visitors who, like us, hold a deep affection of the Scottish Highlands.”

The project aims to restore native woodlands and other areas along with encouraging endangered animals and birds to thrive.

Povlsen and his wife own around 1 percent of the land in Scotland, spread across a dozen estates. The letter included detailed plans for each estate.

(almashpovlsen/Instagram)

According to the Scotland Herald, Povlsen inherited Bestseller and besides being the biggest shareholder in ASOS he’s the second biggest shareholder in Zalando, a clothing giant based in Germany.

All four of Povlsen’s children appeared to be in Sri Lanka days before the Easter Sunday bombings, with Alma sharing a picture of her siblings Astrid, Agnes, and Alfred next to a pool. She included no caption but an emoji.

It wasn’t clear which of Povlsen’s children survived the attacks.

Sri Lankan authorities said on April 22 that authorities arrested 24 people in connection with the attacks, which left at least 290 people dead and another 500-plus injured. None of the suspects have been identified but authorities said that National Thowheed Jamath, a radical Islamic group, was behind the attacks, which targeted Christians worshipping at churches across the country on Easter, a holiday that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus.

Bestseller-owner Anders Holch Povlsen and his wife Anne Holch Povlsen as they arrive at the celebration of the 50th birthday of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark in Royal Arena in Copenhagen, Denmark, on May 27, 2018. (Tariq Mikkel Khan/AFP/Getty Images)

While Jamath perpetrated the bombings, officials said they suspect the “small organization” had support and are probing potential links, including possible international support.

Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that officials had received warnings of planned attacks against churches on Easter Sunday about 10 days prior to the bombings, noting the warnings named the Jamath group.

“A foreign intelligence agency has reported that the NTJ (National Thowheeth Jama’ath) is planning to carry out suicide attacks targeting prominent churches as well as the Indian high commission in Colombo,” one alert that officials received stated.

U.S. President Donald Trump and other world leaders sent their condolences to those who died in the attacks and the U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory on Sunday warning Americans to exercise increased caution if traveling to or within the country.

“Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Sri Lanka. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, local government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, major sporting and cultural events, educational institutions, airports, and other public areas,” it added.