Kim Dotcom has revealed that his three-year legal fight against extradition to the US has seen him run out of cash. But where did his money go? Herald reporter David Fisher looks at the figures.

First question: How much did Kim Dotcom spend?

The answer, according to police valuations, could be as much as $39.5 million and possibly more.

That's the value given to the shares in the Mega cloud storage website sold by Dotcom to Bill Liu, whose assets have also been frozen by the courts.

Explore the interactive 'Dotcom in NZ' timeline below

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Court papers stated the 18.8 per cent shareholding in the company would be worth $39,480,000 based on the $210m valuation of the company for a proposed public listing.


Dotcom's mansion in Coatesville. Photo / Natalie Slade

Liu would be highly unlikely to have paid list price for the shares so long before the expected float, so knock off a third of the claimed value and settle on $26m.

He also sold out of the music site Baboom, which had valued itself at $40m. He held a 45 per cent stake in the company. Again, the shares would not have sold at full value. Call it $10m - the business was not as developed as Mega.

The much harder question to answer is how all that cash got spent.

The obvious answers begin in the lush existence enjoyed by Dotcom and his family. They don't end there, but it is impossible to look past the Dotcom Mansion which - against according to court papers - costs $1m a year to rent and about the same to staff and maintain.

That's $5m right there, from April 2012 when the rent was first due in the wake of the raid up until now.

Then there are the legal fees. Back in August 2012, the high court allowed some of the seized assets to be released to pay for current and future legal bills. At that stage - and these were the first eight months - fees owed by Dotcom were said to be $3.6m.

If he had continued accruing legal bills at the same rate, his first-rate and expensive legal defence would have cost about $15m. It is unknown how much, if any money, has been paid for offshore legal costs. He has lawyers in Hong Kong and the US working hard on the criminal and civil cases.

Then there was the Internet Party experiment. The public record shows it cost $4.5m but the cost could be rounded off to a cool $5m with the advice and soundings Dotcom took before officially dipping his toe in the political pond.

Any cash sloshing around the edges of the estimates is again reflected in lifestyle.

Dotcom stayed in Huka Lodge, took the family on holiday to Queenstown and spent a lot of the election campaign tripping about the country in a helicopter.

He made reference in his interview to remaining shares being held in a family trust. In interviews with the Herald, he was frequently made reference to creating a safety net for his children and now-estranged wife Mona.

For all that, the likelihood of Dotcom staying broke is slim although there is little point in him getting rich again anytime soon.

He has created immense wealth since he was 18. In the following two decades he has devised a number of businesses which had generated a lot of money. The creation of Mega is a perfect example - it was launched in January 2013, exactly a year after the raid which saw Dotcom and three others arrested on United States' charges of criminal copyright violation.

Dotcom went from having his wealth seized by the US to having a business valued at $210m just a year later.

He's never short of ideas, and so has never been short of cash.

There is also $46m in assets held in Hong Kong with Dotcom's lawyers there attempting to have the cash released.

But the problem he faces is that whatever he makes, he faces having Hollywood take. The studios' civil case against Megaupload and Dotcom has seen it demand the right to recoup claimed losses of $500m from past and future earnings.

If the tank has run dry at this point, it probably matters little to Dotcom. In terms of controlling his own fortune and fortunes, he's gone from riding in back to playing chauffeur for Hollywood.