UK Dailies Have Bit Of Fun With Large London House For Sale

on Sep 19, 2012

Spotted in the Barking & Dagenham Yellow Advertiser on 14 September –

**For Sale – Once in Lifetime Opportunity!**
>>Large semi-detached home in sought-after central London postcode, benefitting from several bedrooms (28, possibly more), a swimming pool (four, actually), proximity to public transport (no. 9 bus passes front door) and nice local amenities (Hyde Park just over the road). Professionally converted into single dwelling, ideal for large, extended family (eg, displaced despotic dynasties), but could be restored to income-generating multi-occupancy (eg, oil-powered student lets). First time on market since the tragic passing of its former owner (Middle Eastern assassination). Price negotiable but offers invited in the £300,000,000.00 range. Possible finance for approved buyers.

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Ok, the ad’s not real but the estate is as, apparently, is its availability. That fact seemingly dropped at a judicious moment in the path of several UK dailies by a person or persons unknown and duly run in their issues of 14 September.
Numbers 2 to 8A Rutland Gate, London SW7, will become – seemingly at whatever price it sells – Britain’s most expensive home. At first glance, apart from the single front door, it doesn’t look like one home, it looks like four. Which originally it was, and no amount of ingenious interior rejigging can hide that fact, evident as it is from the ‘elegant stuccoed façade’ (thanks to the Guardian for that).

!m[](/uploads/story/416/thumbs/pic1_inline.png)Where the £300 million asking price comes from is not disclosed in the numerous newspaper items, and indeed a comparison of just a few of them suggests a story lost in translation, perhaps from the original Arabic. For example, the Sun follows its headline with this –
*A 45-bedroom mansion went on sale for a record £300million today.*

But The Times says this –
*Another agent, who was unwilling to be identified, told The Times that the property had been quietly offered around the market “for the six months or so”*
(They left ‘past’ out, not me.)
And whereas The Times describes the property as having 28 bedrooms and a total of 45 rooms, the Guardian says ‘no fewer than 45 bedrooms’, a figure with which, as we can see above, the Sun aligns. And there’s more – according to The Times, the ‘house’ is 70,000 square feet but the Guardian says 60,000. This is quite an important discrepancy, even if you’ve got £300 million to spend. It’d be wise to have someone go over it with a tape measure, to be on the safe side.

And then there’s the seeming uncertainty as to how many swimming pools – The Times says four, but the Guardian says –
*The property is also said to have a large swimming pool and an industrial-sized kitchen.*
Again, basic due diligence ought to resolve this conflict.
We don’t want to keep banging on about The Times’ version of the story – and they alone appear to have gotten out and talked to some people – but there’s this, which shouldn’t be overlooked –
*In addition, some experts believe that because the house once belonged to a prominent political figure who died a violent death, this could add to its allure.*
In what way, exactly? The prospect of finding skull fragments embedded in the walls of the fifth floor guest bathroom? And offering them on eBay?
There’s no chance of course. Previous owner and sometime occupant Rafiq Hariri – construction billionaire and two-time mayor of Beirut – was assassinated in a car-bomb attack in the city in 2005. Twenty two other people also perished. To date no-one has claimed or been charged with responsibility for the outrage.
Would this fact – that Hariri died what was indubitably a ‘violent death’ – really add value to the 1830s pile in Rutland Gate? What portion of the £300 million would it contribute?
As noted earlier, The Times’ sources indicated that the property has been on the market for some time. Properties of this ilk are – apparently – rarely marketed by anything so crass as an ad in the paper. It’s all done very discretely through established networks involving a handful of agents (they probably call themselves something else, ending in the word ‘consultant’) in touch with the handful of uber-rich around the world who can present a cheque for several hundred millions in any of the hard currencies and it won’t bounce.
So the fact that this particular prospect has been fed into – and talked up by – the mainstream media suggests that there’s been no taker to date – and that the £300 million being bandied about in the media stories is so much hoopla. To be fair to The Times, they say £200 to £300 million. But in any event, perhaps the outage of this sale is a sign of times in which even people with the net worth of a small to medium-sized country are practising a bit of austerity.


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