Contrary to his moniker "Captain Bob", Robert Maxwell was the first to leave the sinking ship. In 1991, the newspaper publisher's body was discovered floating in the Atlantic Ocean having fallen off his luxury yacht, the Lady Ghislaine, as it navigated the Canary Islands.
He left the family's reputation in tatters: a £460m ($363m) black hole in the company pension scheme, and his wife and seven children facing the incoming storm.
Scandal, to varying degrees, has dogged the Maxwell name ever since. This week Ghislaine, the youngest child, namesake of his superyacht and by all accounts her father's favourite, has become further embroiled in the events surrounding the disgraced US financier Jeffrey Epstein - found dead in his prison cell on Saturday, while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
The New York socialite stands accused (in civil court documents unsealed last week) of conspiring with Epstein to recruit and groom under-age girls for sex. Virginia Roberts – who alleged she was forced to have sex with the Duke of York in 2001, then aged 17, and two further times under Epstein's unspoken orders – has alleged that Maxwell acted "as a madam". Then, this week, Jennifer Araoz filed a law suit against Epstein's estate and Maxwell, claiming that she was a co-conspirator in his trafficking network.
The 57-year-old has never been criminally charged, and – as with the Duke and Buckingham Palace – has always strongly denied the allegations. A US judge also ordered that all the allegations about the Duke of York be struck from the court record as "immaterial and impertinent". But while Ghislaine appears to have gone to ground, her unwitting return to the public gaze has put the rest of the Maxwell dynasty firmly back in the spotlight.
Raised by Jewish parents in Czechoslovakia, Robert Maxwell lost his entire family in the Holocaust and after marrying Elisabeth in 1945 stressed he wanted to have as many children as possible to replace them. Two died young: Michael, aged 23 in 1969, eight years after he was placed in a coma when seriously injured in a car crash; and Karine aged three from leukaemia in 1957.
Of the surviving seven siblings some have remained society names, while others have seemingly sought to disappear altogether. Those who know them say what unites them all is the decades-long struggle to escape the shadow of their overbearing father, who would bully and beat his children in an attempt to create a cowed line of succession.
"They were definitely a family crushed by Robert as the all-powerful and sinister patriarch," recalls the writer Anna Pasternak, who studied at Oxford alongside Ghislaine and whose sister attended birthday parties at former Maxwell family pile, Headington Hill Hall, in Oxfordshire. "This must have been deeply psychologically affecting for them all."
So who makes up the surviving Maxwell clan?
Once the loyal wife, who would diligently collect every press cutting concerning her husband, "Betty" was credited for holding the family together in the face of Maxwell's belligerence.
In her 1995 autobiography, A Mind of My Own, largely written to recoup some of her financial losses, she admitted: "Everything was sacrificed on the altar of Bob's genius, and in the end the children and I were to pay a heavy price."
Following Maxwell's death, she became a respected Holocaust historian, tracing Maxwell's relatives killed during the Second World War. She received a PHD from Oxford University aged 60 and lectured around the world before settling in the Dordogne region of France, where she died in 2013 aged 92.
Ian and Kevin
The heirs apparent – and the ones hit hardest by their father's fall. Ian and Kevin were 35 and 32 when their father died and the children most closely associated with the family firm. In 1995, both stood trial for their part in the fraud of the Mirror Group pension fund – with Maxwell having plundered his employees' pensions to shore up his companies.
By that time Kevin had already been declared Britain's biggest bankrupt, with debts of more than £400m. Both sons were acquitted – though a subsequent Whitehall report concluded Kevin bore a "heavy responsibility" for what had happened. He remains the only child to have alluded to the "the moral burden" he bears as a result of his father's crimes.
The pair have since launched a number of businesses. In 2011, Kevin was banned from running a company for eight years following an investigation by the Insolvency Service into his conduct as a director of Syncro, a Manchester-based construction and maintenance company that collapsed in 2007.
By that stage his former family home, the Oxfordshire estate of Moulsford Manor, had been sold and he had separated from his wife, Pandora, with whom he has seven children. She once reportedly tried to boost the family's dwindling income by selling £3.50 ($6.50) cream teas.
Pandora still lives in Oxford, where last year she gave a talk at a local community centre on her relationship with Robert Maxwell – a man she has previously described as "the fat fraudster".
A year ago, Ian and Kevin made a surprise return to the public eye, conducting a newspaper interview – Ian's first for decades – in which they announced they were starting a counter-extremist think tank 'Combating Jihadist Terrorism and Extremism'. According to its website, Ian Maxwell remains a director although there is no clear mention of Kevin.
The eldest and by far the most reclusive of the Maxwell boys. Despite his apparent antipathy to his father, he seems to have inherited his famous ability to cover his tracks – Maxwell told a different story about his own emergence from the ruins of post-war central Europe every time a reporter asked.
Philip was a precocious talent and won a scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford, at 16, but later moved to Argentina to get "as far away from my father as possible". He married an Argentinian but they divorced. Now married again he is thought to be living quietly in north London and pursuing a career as a writer.
Maxwell's eldest daughter has settled into a quiet life, well away from the family turmoil. That's perhaps no surprise considering she suffered at the end of some of her father's most barbed comments. After embarking on an unsuccessful acting career, she was once apparently told by Maxwell: 'What have you and Pope John Paul II got in common? You're both ugly and you're both failed actors'.
After studying at Oxford, she became a Montessori teacher and is now said to be a hypnotherapist in Surrey, practising under another name. She is married to an osteopath, with whom she has a daughter.
Christine and Isabel
At one stage Maxwell's twin daughters appeared the most likely to have in inherited his entrepreneurial zeal. The pair made The Sunday Times rich list in 1999 after amassing £100m ($188m) in the dotcom boom.
In a rare 1998 interview about her then-role on the Internet Society Board of Trustees, Christine appeared keen to rehabilitate the family brand. "Both of my parents," she said, "had a strong work ethic, which they instilled in me and my brothers and sisters when we were very young. They also communicated a very clear understanding that advantages always come with responsibilities – that there was no such thing as a free ride."
Yet, once again the Maxwell fortune did not last. By 2001, Isabel's holdings were said to have dropped from £9.5million ($17.8 million) to just £300,000 ($563,000). In 2015, the then 65-year-old was declared bankrupt in an order at the High Court. Her profession was described in the bankruptcy order as a 'consultant'. Twice married with a grown-up son, she now divides her time between New York and Israel.
Christine, meanwhile, is presumed to be living in Provence. A former teacher, she has written a book called The Dictionary of Perfect Spelling and is married to an astrophysicist. They have two sons and a daughter.
In 2011, a friend described her circumstances to a newspaper journalist: 'By no stretch of the imagination are they wealthy; but they are survivors.' A fitting epitaph for a failed dynasty.