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Inside Salt Bae £40m fortune after dropping out of school to set up string of ‘rip off’ restaurants selling £1k steaks

NUSRET Gökçe went from humble beginnings to running a global restaurant empire and a personal fortune estimated at more than £40million.

The former butcher’s apprentice – known as Salt Bae to his 50million Instagram followers – now enjoys a glam lifestyle with private jet flights and a reputed £1million car collection.

Pricey steak merchant Salt Bae has an estimated £40million fortune
The £36million palace Nusret calls home in Istanbul
Salt Bae is said to have an incredible car collection worth £1million
But he came from humble origins as a butcher’s apprentice

This week he faced a storm of criticism after badgering Lionel Messi and grabbing the trophy from Argentina players after the World Cup final.

Fifa has admitted he should never have been allowed on the pitch and launched an official probe.

But it comes after Gökçe made his fame and fortune by cosying up to footballers and celebrities.

The fame hungry chef has posed alongside global stars from David Beckham, Kylian Mbappe and Conor McGregor to DJ Khaled and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Non VIPs also flock to his restaurants hoping for a pic with Salt Bae to share on Instagram.

And they fork out up to £1,450 – as Gemma Collins did – for one of his Instagramable gold leaf steaks.

Gökçe, 39, now has a chain of 22 Nusr-Et steakhouses around the world.

His 15th, opened to great fanfare in Knightsbridge last year, made £7million in its first four months despite poor reviews.

The eye-watering prices caused a storm when it emerged he charges £100 for a burger, £11 for Red Bull and £9 for water.

One table of four spent £37,000 including £600 on baklava pastries and £5,000 on service.

But his London staff are paid as little as £10.50 an hour – one third the cost of a salad.

Meanwhile last month he caused fury by boasting how a group’s bill totalled £140,000 for a meal in Abu Dhabi.

It is not clear how much of the money goes to Gökçe as the restaurants are owned by a holding company and may have other investors.

However he is not shy of showing off his lavish lifestyle on the ‘gram.

Pics show him stepping off private jets and in the back of limos.

In 2019, he reportedly splashed out £36million to buy luxurious hotel Macka Palace in Istanbul.

He is believed to live in a penthouse apartment and also opened another of his restaurants there.

Announcing the landmark moment on Instagram, he said: “I had one dream which was to have my own restaurant at my own hotel.

“Thank God one of my biggest dreams is coming true.”

Gökçe is also believed to have property in the UK and US and often posts pictures from a private pool in Beverly Hills and riding horses on a ranch..

And he reportedly has an enviable supercar collection including three Rolls-Royces and a Lamborghini Hurracan. 

It is a far cry from his childhood – which was reportedly so poor he had to drop out of school aged 12.

Nusret’s rags-to-riches story began in a poverty-stricken suburb east of Instanbul, Turkey.

He was one of five children whose miner father spent months away working.

Speaking to The Times in 2019, Nusret said he often went to school wearing shoes and shirts that didn’t fit as his parents could afford anything else.  

He claims his family took him out of school so he could help earn money and at 13 he was taken on as a butcher’s apprentice.

He recalled: “I woke up at six o’clock, two hours on the train commute and 30 minutes after the train in the bus.

“Then all day long, standing and working. No day off and no vacation.” 

He also worked in steakhouses, washing dishes to work his way up from the bottom.  

He told NBC in 2017: “Since I was 14, I worked more than 13 hours a day as a kitchen runner for a butcher.

“I was always wishing and wishing to open up a restaurant.”

Later he convinced a bank to lend him £2,500 so he could travel to Argentina to learn about the meat trade.

After years when he claims he “worked for free” to gain experience, he returned to his home city Istanbul.

And at the age of 27, he opened his first Nusr-Et steakhouse in 2010 with just eight tables and ten employees.

Turkish tycoon Ferit Sahenk was so impressed he offered to invest, and helped Nusr-et launched outposts in Ankara and Dubai.

Sexiest butcher on Instagram

But his career did not really take off until a monster hit viral video of his now-famous “sprinkle” in January 2017.

A 36-second Instagram video called Ottoman Steak showed Gökçe theatrically slicing steak at a table.

Then holding his hand in a “cobra” pose he lets salt flow down his forearm to season the meat.

Bruno Mars tweeted the video, which instantly went viral and earned Gökçe the title of “sexiest butcher on Instagram”.

The gimmick also earned him the nickname Salt Bae – and millions of followers on Instagram.

“All of my feelings are coming from inside of the meat, down to when I put the salt onto the meat,” he once explained.

Success meant expansion in the US, with restaurants in Dallas, Boston, Beverly Hills and New York, as well as Mykonos in Greece.

Celebrities including Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham, DJ Khaled and Naomi Campbell flocked to the US outlets.

And one Insta post shows Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio captivated as his tomahawk is showered with salt by the chef.

Now at the height of his fame and success he is battling to recover his reputation after the embarrassing scenes in Qatar.

Fifa boss Gianni Infantino – who previously showered praise on Salt Bae – has unfollowed him on social media.

The row has also seen him banned by a US sporting event next year.

He has tried to shrug off the controversy and last night posted bizarre videos of himself flexing his muscles in the gym in Dubai.

He also posted a photo of himself as a 12-year-old, harking back to his humble origins.

Nusret holding a hunk of gold coated meat in Mykonos, where he has a restaurant
Celebrity fans include David Beckham
Nusret (centre) was born into poverty in Turkey
The butcher’s apprenticeship set him on a path to success
Salt Bae shot to fame with his signature sprinkle
Nusret with his famous gold-covered steak – costing up to £1,450
Salt Bae travels by private jet between restaurants
Nusret with the nine kids he called his “family”
The chef in his Saltfather mode

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