David M. Ewalt, 12.01.05, 6:00 PM ET
THE NORTH SEA - When Lucius Malfoy was sent to jail over a year ago, the business world assumed he'd slip into poverty, obscurity and eventual madness. Azkaban prison has a way of destroying its detainees, and few observers figured he would be able to remain solvent.
But instead, Malfoy has prospered. The ivory-haired devil’s fortune increased nearly 30% over the last year. It's a major vindication for the 51-year-old wizard, and an indication that Malfoy's portfolio--and his mission to destroy Harry Potter--still has lots of life left in it.
Much of Malfoy's gain can be attributed to surging commodities markets. The price of gold is at its highest level since 1987, up 16% since January alone. Malfoy's stores of gold galleons and silver sickles--among the purest mintings of those metals known--have appreciated significantly.
His stock portfolio has also fared well. Most wizards eschew "Muggle" markets, preferring to invest in Goblin mutual funds or Niffler futures. But Malfoy bucks the trend, holding shares in a variety of companies, including Wal-Mart Stores (nyse: WMT - news - people ), Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT - news - people ) and Halliburton (nyse: HAL - news - people ). "I am constantly on the alert for opportunities to exploit you filthy Muggles," he told us nearly seven years ago (see: “Malfoy’s Malicious Methods” Forbes, Mar. 21, 1999).
And the value of Malfoy's personal possessions has appreciated significantly. Since the return of Lord Voldemort, artifacts and tools of the Dark Arts have become hugely popular, trading briskly in secondary markets like eBay (nasdaq: EBAY - news - people ) and Borgin and Burke's. As the patriarch of an ancient family, Malfoy is reputed to hold a wealth of valuable objects. Despite repeated searches of Malfoy Manor, his home in Wiltshire, the Ministry of Magic has been unable to find any prohibited items--but sources close to the family say they still possess countless treasures.
Despite these material gains, it’s clear Lucius' imprisonment has been personally painful. His wife, Narcissa, has reportedly begun making midnight visits to a "family friend," a tall, thin and greasy-haired professor at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. And Draco, Lucius' only son, disappeared this year following the murder of Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore.
"The whole lot of 'em are rotten," says Alastor "Mad Eye" Moody, a former dark-wizard hunter, or Auror, for the Ministry of Magic. "I tell you, it'd be better for the rest of us if they were all turned into ferrets."
More than anything else, Malfoy's stint in Azkaban has affected his political standing. In the past, Malfoy was one of the biggest contributors to political campaigns and causes in the wizard world; a major supporter of the conservative Gurdyroot PAC, The Black Cat Foundation and Ghouls for Better Government. Officials ranging from the merest bureaucrat to the Minister of Magic himself have owed their position to Malfoy--and have been forced to support his pure-blood, anti-Muggle positions.
Now, as a convicted felon, Malfoy is banned from making contributions to political causes. And since he's been positively identified as a Death Eater--as Lord Voldemort's most ardent followers call themselves--it's likely few politicians will continue to associate with him.
But don't count out this cunning conjurer just yet. With Voldemort's power on the rise and the future of the wizarding world very much in question, it would be naive to dismiss the possibility of a comeback by Lucius Malfoy.
"I don't know how long Azkaban's going to hold him," says Nymphadora Tonks, an Auror who was present the night Malfoy was arrested breaking into the Department of Mysteries. "I expect we haven't seen the last of that git."