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He overflowed with natural gifts - brains, quick wits and an eye for the main chance which netted him great wealth.
They were qualities that brought him to the prime ministership.
But they weren't enough to secure the highest job in the land.
His fatal flaw was his failure to manage a party with deep ideological divisions. The right never forgave him for toppling its flagbearer Tony Abbott and he never learned how to deal with it.
His final days, as he squirmed to frustrate his challenger (though not the beneficiary of the challenge) Peter Dutton, became farcical, with more moving parts than a centipede.
Meanwhile, out in the suburbs and regions, the people were wishing pestilence on the whole shower. They were the Greek chorus.
It was a humiliating end to what had once promised so much, though the bitterness was reduced because it was Scott Morrison rather than Dutton who succeeded him.
Turnbull wasn't born rich but he excelled at school and university and married well. He learned from and later fell out with Kerry Packer, the biggest piranha of the corporate world. He made his name as a lawyer in the Spycatcher case. He made serious money as an investment banker.
His first big setback was his failure with the 1999 republican referendum - and a source of later criticism was his failure, when PM, to take on the issue again.
Turnbull turned his attention back to politics, an early interest, and he entered parliament after winning a ferocious preselection battle with the Liberal incumbent in the safe seat of Wentworth in 2004.
He was in a hurry, too much of a hurry for some tastes. He'd been there scarcely five minutes before lecturing Peter Costello on tax. He was in cabinet before his first term was over.
The 2007 election brought Labor back to power and Turnbull challenging for the Liberal leadership.
He lost by three votes to Brendan Nelson - and would probably have won if he'd been more consultative.
He didn't have to wait long. Next year he challenged and won by four votes.
His time as opposition leader was marked by ill-judged impatience, highlighted by the Godwin Grech affair; and mismanagement of his own right wing, notably through backing Labor's carbon reduction scheme.
It culminated in Abbott defeating him by one vote and going on to decisively win the 2013 election.
But Abbott had his own flaws and was soon languishing in the polls.
On September 14, 2015, Turnbull challenged and won by 10 votes. He was PM and Abbott and his supporters never forgave him.
Eight months later Turnbull, frustrated by the Senate, gambled on a double dissolution election.
It semi-backfired. He was left with a single-seat majority in the lower house and an even more unruly Senate.
Since then, despite the economy doing quite well, he has struggled. Some measures have fallen in the Senate and others in the party room. Some successes, notably on same sex marriage, just further alienated the right, which refused to be appeased.
The polls were bad, though he remained preferred PM over Bill Shorten.
He invested too much credibility in the "Super Saturday" by-elections and when Labor comfortably held the Queensland seat of Longman, the Dutton "insurgency" as Turnbull called it, was probably inevitable.
The self-made multimillionaire was finally undone by a lethal combination of genuine ideological difference and raw vengefulness which was out to get him whatever he did.