Mortgagee sales for homes valued at $5m as owner laments drug-law changes he blames for his downfall.

The former empire of legal-highs godfather Matt Bowden is disintegrating - three of his properties, worth more than $5 million, are listed for mortgagee sale.

Creditors are circling as liquidators dispose of the remains of his multimillion-dollar fortune.

But the recreational drugs manufacturer is vowing to reinvent himself by developing natural therapies to fight drug addiction.

"Rather than feeding people's desire for self-destruction, I'm interested now in products that have some benefits or allow people to make better life decisions," he said. "I think that's what the community will support."


A spectacular North Shore clifftop property on Cliff Rd, Torbay, will go under the hammer in a forced sale this month. The sprawling 3500sq m property stretches to the high-tide mark, is subdividable and has panoramic views over Rangitoto Island and the Hauraki Gulf.

Mr Bowden, 44, bought the turreted "lighthouse" bach in February 2013 for $2.55 million, planning to build a dream home and rehab centre.

But an $850,000 tax debt to the Inland Revenue Department and hundreds of thousands of dollars owed to other creditors after a crackdown on the legal-high industry resulted in the property being put on the market this year.

It has failed to sell and has been listed for mortgagee sale by Harcourts on behalf of First Mortgage Trust.

"I didn't want to sell them," Mr Bowden told the Weekend Herald. "I thought I'd be able to come through this."

Mr Bowden is known for introducing party pills to New Zealand. He later moved into importing and manufacturing synthetic cannabis. He also makes music under the stage name Starboy.

His Stargate Operations company is in liquidation owing $1.42 million to unsecured creditors.

The Cliff Rd property's listed owner is a trust whose directors are linked to accountancy firm Hayes Knight.

Mr Bowden also owns a four-bedroom house on a large section on the outskirts of Auckland.

His wife, Kristi Bowden, is listed on property records as an initial owner before the title was transferred to the trust. It was purchased for $1.55 million in May 2013, and is now to be auctioned.

Mrs Bowden is also the registered owner of a four-bedroom Carlisle Rd house in Browns Bay. It has a CV of $750,000 and will be sold on the same day as the Cliff Rd property.

First Mortgage Trust holds the three mortgages.

Harcourts agent David Savery said the sales were extremely sensitive. It was unusual for high-calibre properties to go to mortgagee sale, especially in a buoyant market.

Mr Bowden said he had lobbied for an evidence-based system to prove legal highs were safe. But the Government's decision to outlaw testing recreational drugs on animals was the death knell for his business.

He had poured millions into a research laboratory to create safe pharmaceutical alternatives, but the testing ban effectively wiped out the entire industry, he said.

"My products were not causing adverse effects," he said. "Others were, but I was shut down with everybody else."

Mr Bowden, who has two young children, said his lab had been sold by liquidators, with his recording studio, costume company and other assets. He said he was now living "frugally" and considering a move overseas.

Asked if he was hurting at the loss of his empire, he said: "I'm finding it quite exhilarating to have this level of personal challenge in my life to overcome. I'm a positive person. Life only throws at you what you can handle, therefore there must be a way through this."

Liquidators said "all tangible assets" of Stargate Operations had been sold and demands had been issued for amounts outstanding.

Forced sales

80 Cliff Rd, Torbay

Waterfront 3500sq m clifftop property with panoramic views of Hauraki Gulf. Has two-bedroom turreted bach and CV of $2.6 million.

Mortgagee auction July 28.

66 Carlisle Rd, Browns Bay
Four-bedroom, two-bathroom 1960s weatherboard house on 800sq m section. CV of $750,000.
Mortgagee auction July 28.

Rural outskirts of Auckland
Four-bedroom, two-bathroom modern family home on large section. CV $1.46 million.
Mortgagee auction July 31.