Australia's best-known fugitive, businessman Christopher Skase, has died of lung cancer in Spain. For 10 years Skase, 53, evaded intensive efforts by Australia to have him extradited from his bolt-hole on the holiday island of Majorca. Skase fled Australia in 1991 facing criminal charges over the collapse of his A$1.5 billion (HK$6 billion) Qintex empire, which he built up during the 1980s. He was the quintessential 1980s high-roller, funding a lavish lifestyle and acquiring all the trappings of corporate success, including a yacht, a private jet, mansions, a fleet of luxury cars and a collection of fine art. To his business associates he will be remembered as an audacious entrepreneur and a man of vision who was unfairly victimised by successive governments. But to his many detractors he was a scoundrel, a thief and a liar. He was one of the highest of Australia's high-fliers. After brief stints as a financial journalist and entrepreneur in the 1960s, he first made his mark when he bought into a Victoria-based tin mining company, Qintex, in the mid-1970s. In 1975 he became chairman, and within a decade the company had diversified, paying A$34 million for a Queensland television station. Skase went on to buy into the Channel Seven network, eventually owning two-thirds of Australia's television market. He also launched a A$1.5 billion bid for the Hollywood studio MGM United Artists, only to come up short when the first instalment of A$50 million was due. The deal led to the bankruptcy of the Qintex Group in 1990. Undeterred, Mr Skase continued to pay himself and his executives A$40 million in management fees. When the Australian Securities Commission laid charges against him, he fled to Majorca, from where he led the life of a tycoon. Australians were used to seeing Skase one moment apparently at death's door and the next marking the passing of each threat to his freedom with a Lazarus-like comeback into the glamorous lifestyle to which he has long been accustomed. Wheelchairs and oxygen masks were swiftly replaced by parties and rounds of golf. Two years ago he developed cancer and became increasingly haggard and thin. Despite his gaunt appearance, the Australian Government doubted he was seriously ill and continued to push for his extradition. Jason Moore, editor of Majorca's English-language newspaper, said Skase's wife, Pixie, and step-daughter Amanda Larkins knew he was gravely ill but were still in shock following his death yesterday. 'Despite their grief and sorrow, they were angry because there are so many people in Australia who doubted Skase was sick,' he said. Even death will offer no respite for Skase's family - the Australian Government has vowed to continue its bid to recover some of his assets. Attorney-General Daryl Williams said although the 60 criminal charges outstanding against Skase would be dropped, the Government had already spent A$3 million tracking down his wealth and would still pursue the A$177 million owed to creditors.