McAvoy, 71, died of a “broken heart” at his home in Bromley, south east London, during the New Year celebrations – six months after the death of second wife Kathy, according to loved ones.
In 2003, McAvoy, who was behind Britain’s biggest bullion heist, told reporters he did “not receive a penny” from the 1983 crime and was reformed after being sentenced to 25 years in prison.
It is believed some of his accomplices made off with his share. But he was known to regularly visit Spain’s Costa del Sol, where he had a villa.
Asked if he believed McAvoy had lost all the ill-gotten gains, former Scotland Yard commander Roy Ramm, who worked on the case, said: “He was clearly ripped off while in prison but he did have some means of living and there was no evidence of him doing any decorating work, as was claimed.”
Former Met Police DCI Dave McKelvey had been a PC when the robbery happened and not a part of the investigation.
But he believes McAvoy remained involved in organised crime after being released from prison.
In 2007, Mr McKelvey received intelligence that an organised crime group had ordered a contract killing on him and two other officers, who had unearthed an Aladdin’s cave of stolen and counterfeit goods in east London. The hit ultimately never went ahead.
He added: “Intelligence I received was that McAvoy met with two other top-level criminals on a boat to arrange the contract.”
Boxing trainer Peter Fury, uncle of heavyweight world champion boxer Tyson Fury, last week announced McAvoy’s death.
Posting a tribute on Instagram with a picture of them, Mr Fury wrote: “My true friend for 30 years gave up his battle last night to be with his loving wife Kathy. You’re together now.”
McAvoy, also known as The Nutter due to his violent temper, was one of the masterminds behind the £27million gold heist.
On November 26, 1983, the hour-long raid netted 6,800 gold bars – worth about £100million today – after six armed men broke into the Brink’s-Mat security depot near Heathrow, aided by a security guard “inside man”.
It was plotted by McAvoy and Brian “The Colonel” Robinson, whose brother-in-law was Anthony Black, the Brink’s-Mat guard.
McAvoy was played by Sean Bean in the 1993 movie Fool’s Gold and is being portrayed in the forthcoming BBC drama The Gold, starring Hugh
Bonneville. McAvoy and Robinson started spending after the robbery, trading south London council homes for mansions in Kent.
Laundering the proceeds proved to be a major headache, involving a string of other top-tier criminals, including killer Kenneth Noye and, allegedly, John “Goldfinger” Palmer.
McAvoy and Robinson were jailed in 1984 for 25 years each and were released in 2000.
Black got six years and the four other robbers avoided prosecution.
McAvoy got Brian Perry and George Francis to launder his share, who in turn passed it to Noye.
It led to about 20 murders and untimely deaths that became known as the Brink’s-Mat curse.
They include the killing of undercover detective John Fordham by Noye, who stabbed him in the grounds of his mansion, where he was hiding some of the gold, in 1985.
Noye was later cleared of murder on grounds of self-defence. In 1990, former Great Train Robber Charlie Wilson was shot dead in Spain after losing £3million of Brink’s-Mat cash being laundered through drugs.
Perry was shot dead in 2001 as was Francis two years later.
McAvoy was a suspect in Perry’s murder but never charged. In 2015 Palmer met the same end.
Now with McAvoy’s death it is unlikely that any missing Brink’s-Mat cash will ever be located.
In 1986, a syndicate of underwriters at Lloyd’s of London, the insurers of Brink’s-Mat, recruited solicitors Shaw and Croft to recover the stolen money.
Solicitor Bob McCunn spent years trying to recover cash from anyone involved in handling it.
In 2004, it was reported by the BBC that he recovered about £25million but that £9million was deducted for fees and costs, and about £10million could still be missing.