Known as Tin-Can-Curt, Curt Degerman, 60, had been known around his home town of Skelleftea, in northern Sweden, as a harmless eccentric who picked up tins to sell for pennies to shopkeepers and a recycling plant.
However, what neither his family nor those in the town knew was that he then used the money to buy stocks and shares.
For despite appearances to the contrary, Mr Degerman was for 40 years actually a dedicated player of the financial markets.
As well as eating left-over food from bins and wearing the same filthy blue anorak, Mr Degerman would regularly study the financial pages of newspapers in the town’s public library every day.
‘He went to the library every day because he didn’t buy newspapers. There he read [Swedish business daily] Dagens Industri,’ his cousin told local media at the time of his death.
‘He knew the stock market inside out.’
It was thanks to his shrewd decisions that he amassed his fortune.
It was only after he died of a heart attack that his relatives found he had left behind shares worth more than £731,000 in a Swiss bank account.
In addition he left gold bars worth £250,000 as well as £275 of loose change at his home.
The closet millionaire was described by relatives as a ‘very clever’ child who had dropped out of school after a personal crisis.
His fortune came to light after a row developed following his death.
Mr Degerman had made a will leaving his entire fortune to one cousin who visited him during the months leading up to his death.
But another cousin who believed his father was entitled to a slice of the fortune contested the will when the full extent of the estate emerged.
Under Swedish inheritance law the uncle, whose name has not been made public, held the legal right to inherit his nephew’s riches.
The two cousins eventually settled out of court this week, agreeing to split the fortune.
Neither would reveal the details of the settlement but both said that they were ‘satisfied’ with the outcome.