HE paid a fortune to be the first Irish civilian in space and was the subject of a heated on-air spat with veteran broadcaster Pat Kenny.
But it seems that the founder of Irish Psychics Live laughed all the way to the bank as Ireland was plunged into recession.
Tom Higgins (53) shared a dividend payout of €9.6m with his wife Theresa Dunne three days before they retired as directors of Realm Communications on June 29, 2009, new accounts filed with the Companies Office reveal.
The couple ran the controversial premium-rate phone line in which callers are charged €2.40 per minute for instant psychic readings. The rates were the subject of calls to RTE's 'Liveline', even though the phone line was given rave reviews by RTE radio star Ryan Tubridy when it was launched in 1998.
Working as a researcher on Pat Kenny's radio show at the time, Mr Tubridy was told during his reading that he "was being influenced by an older, fair-haired man and would soon get a promotion".
Even though Mr Kenny said his "mind had been opened" at the time, he later accused Mr Higgins of being a charlatan and launched into a tirade against him on air that led to a complaint being upheld by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission.
In 2005, Mr Higgins paid €250,000 to be among the first 100 people aboard billionaire Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic spaceship.
Later, the fortunes of the company he founded dwindled. In 2010, filings for Realm Communications showed the firm recorded a post-tax loss of €315,225 after recording a post-tax profit of €1.1m in 2009.