Copyright 2003

[ July 23rd 2003 ]

The Sheffield man who launched Tomb Raider cyberbabe Lara Croft's high-flying career is poised for a multi-million pound double take. Jeremy Heath-Smith is leaving computer games group Eidos with a 'golden goodbye' and has sold his mansion on Ringinglow Road, less than a month after it was put on the market at a record asking price of 3.5 million.

The deal is subject to contract and although estate agents Saxton Mee wouldn't reveal the price, the high level of interest and the speed of the sale suggests the property - Castle Dyke House - has set a new record for a Sheffield home. Castle Dyke House has 11 bedrooms - five with en-suite bathrooms - a large indoor swimming pool, sauna and gym suite. Add a firing range and garage packed with foreign exotica and the new owners could have something that rivals Lady Croft's palatial family pile.

Mr Heath-Smith and his partner are believed to be heading off for London. He had, and may still have, a home in prestigious Eaton Mews, Belgravia, where a two bedroom cottage costs close to 1 million. However, the seven year relationship with Lara, who he nurtured from birth at the Derby-based studio he acquired from former employers, Sheffield computer games pioneers Gremlin, is over.

Delays in launching Angel of Darkness, the sixth and latest Tomb Raider game, led Eidos to issue a profits warning and are believed to have cost Mr Heath-Smith his job as the company's Global Head of Development. That job netted him around half a million pounds over the last 12 months, making him Eidos's highest paid director. Talks over Mr Heath-Smith's severance package are still proceeding at Eidos, which lost 30 million over the last 15 months and saw its shares fall by 14 per cent after news of his impending departure emerged.

The fall in the share price will have an impact on Mr Heath-Smith. He was the Eidos director with the most shares after creative director and former chairman Ian Livingstone and holds a million Eidos shares and had options to buy a further 230,463. Mr Heath-Smith also had rights to royalties from the Tomb Raider games. He started out in the computer games industry as sales manager for Sheffield pioneers Gremlin. He left in the late 1980s when he bought Gremlin's Derby development studio and launched Core Design.

Tomb Raider was first created at Core after it had been acquired by CentreGold, the parent group of computer games publisher US Gold and distributor CentreSoft. Jeremy Heath-Smith became a director of CentreSoft and US Gold's managing director, while continuing to run Core as an autonomous subsidiary, an arrangement which continued after Eidos acquired CentreSoft just a few months before the launch of the first Tomb Raider game.

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