Deal Review 2020: 22 notable property sales from an extraordinary year
In spite of the most challenging conditions in living memory, high-end agents managed to transact on some landmark properties in 2020. From ultra-prime penthouses to fairytale castles; historic seats to new-build sateliTes, the world of luxury real estate miraculously kept on turning – although nothing came close to eclipsing the Knightsbridge mega-deal that went through at the beginning of the year. Here’s PrimeResi’s pick of the most interesting and noteworthy deals we’ve covered over last 12 extraordinary months…
2-8 Rutland Gate
News of the £210m sale of 2-8a Rutland Gate made global headlines back in January, after the family office of Cheung Chung-kiu, founder and chairman of Hong Kong-based CC Land, confirmed the record-breaking purchase – which was brokered by Gary Hersham’s Beauchamp Estates.
Weighing in at a whopping 62,000 square feet and directly overlooking Hyde Park, the seven-storey private palace was converted from four 1830s Italianate townhouses into a 45-room single residence between 1985 and 1987; features include a suite of ambassadorial receptions, bullet-proof windows, a leisure complex with pool and spa, “several” passenger lifts, and underground parking for a fleet of vehicles. The lavish interiors were created by French master designer Alberto Pinto.
No.1 Grosvenor Square, Mayfair
Marking the biggest penthouse purchase of the year, a British buyer splashed c.£140m on a vast spread at Lodha UK’s super-prime play in Mayfair.
The mystery “local resident” picked up the top storey and two lower apartments at No. 1 Grosvenor Square – in shell and core condition – and is apparently planning to convert them into a 15,600 square foot single residence.
According to reports, the 8,100 square foot penthouse had originally been sold off-plan (with another unit) to a Chinese buyer for around £110m in 2018, but the purchase ended up falling through.
Lodha UK chief exec Gabriel York said the majority of the buyers in the building “were those who run and own businesses based in the UK, including some of the top FTSE companies”, but declined to name any names.
The Glebe, Chelsea
In another of 2020’s standout deals, a buyer spent £43m on a new-build villa at The Glebe, the ultra-prime transformation of the former Jamahiriya School in Chelsea.
Formation Architects worked in collaboration with Collett-Zarzycki and Gumuchdjian Architects on the recently-completed scheme on Glebe Place, just south of King’s Road, which has delivered some of the most luxurious residences in London – set within an oasis-like landscape designed by Tom Stuart-Smith.
Dating back to around 1870, the redbrick former school building itself has been restored and converted into seven voluminous apartments, with private leisure facilities and parking across two new subterranean levels.
The Residences at Mandarin Oriental Mayfair
Clivedale London notched up a major success in Mayfair back in March, selling a penthouse at its Mandarin Oriental-branded scheme on Hanover Square at record-breaking £8,000 per square foot.
The first of the two penthouses fetched £25m in 2018, and the second – a four-bed on the ninth floor with a 2,200 square foot roof terrace- is believed to have eclipsed this; both units set new £psf benchmarks for the Mayfair area, according to the developer. The buyer was represented by recently-launched independent agency David Turner Property, and contracts were exchanged in just seven days.
The transformation of the former JLL HQ is delivering 80 apartments and an integrated boutique 50-key Mandarin Oriental hotel. Residents will have access to a suite of “world-class” Mandarin Oriental amenities and services including five-star concierge, in-residence dining and valet parking.
One Kensington Gardens, Kensington
Also sealed in March was the sale of a magnificent five-bedroom apartment in the David Chipperfield-designed One Kensington Gardens development, which went for “in excess of £25m” to an international buyer.
One Kensington Gardens completed back in 2015, delivering 97 luxury homes on De Vere Gardens in W8. The striking nine-storey block replaced the 1950s-built Palace and Thistle hotels, and the De Vere Gardens mansion block. The site was acquired by an Abu Dhabi-led consortium in 2008 for a rumoured £320m.
Strutt & Parker’s Residential Development team handled the sale of this marquee unit, which overlooks Kensington Gardens; Mayfair Private Office acted on behalf of the buyer – who was described as “a highly respected international businessperson and investor from the Middle-East.” The deal finally went through “after some months of careful negotiation,” said Strutts’ Adam Simmonds.
Stratton Street, Mayfair
A £30m penthouse on Mayfair’s Stratton Street sold after sparking a bidding war between UHNW buyers.
The “one of a kind” residence officially hit the market at the beginning of the year, having attracted pre-launch interest from ten different nationalities; agents later confirmed a deal had been done, with “multiple bids” received from a range of local and international purchasers.
Along with nearly 8,500 square feet of internal space, the apartment’s party piece came in the form of a 1,600 square foot terrace overlooking Green Park, providing some of the best views in Prime Central London.
The bulk of the accommodation is laid out across the eighth floor of the building, and includes five bedrooms suites, a huge main reception with three windows and English oak parquet flooring, a formal dining room, Boffi kitchen, study and cinema.
The remarkable terrace above is reached via an atrium staircase and bespoke glass enclosure – making sure there’s no missing out on the skyline views along the way.
The new owner will also be able to take the lift directly down to their own 2,434 square foot complex on the lower ground floor of the block, housing a five-car garage, gym, spa, wine cellar and sauna.
Mamhead House, Devon
A Grade I listed mansion in Devon was picked up by a US-based buyer in one the largest house deals the county has seen.
Agents Strutt & Parker confirmed the sale of the remarkable Mamhead House, one of the South West’s most renowned and historically significant properties, which had been on the market asking OIEO £7.95m.
Mentioned in the Domesday Book, the estate has been the seat of several distinguished families since 1547, when it was bought by the Balle family. The current Gothic-style iteration was built in 1833 as a “Marriage House” for Robert Newman and his new bride, Mary, and combines some of the best private reception rooms in England, with views stretching over the parkland, open agricultural land and along the East Devon coast to Portland Bill.
More recently employed as a hotel and events venue, the vast pile has five principal reception rooms, five additional reception rooms, 16 bedrooms, eight bathrooms and an attic with a further 11 bedrooms.
The 164 acres surrounding the property were once “improved” by Lancelot “Capability” Brown, and feature a Grade II* 19th century castle, staff house, extensive Italian terraces, a sunken garden and a camellia house.
The Grove, Highgate
The Highgate mansion where George Michael spent his final years sold for a massive £19m.
The Grade II listed Queen Anne property on The Grove went through at more than double the sum it fetched in 2002, according to newly-released Land Registry documents – without ever surfacing on the open market.
The red-brick seven-bed, which dates back to 1688, became a focus for adoring fans in the wake of the singer’s death on Christmas Day 2016, resulting in a huge shrine appearing outside.
It was claimed last year that a mystery “off-market” agency had been instructed to find a tenant at £15,000 per week, although talk at the time of a £10m sales valuation was clearly well off.
The Evening Standard reported that the new buyers are a “very local couple”, who ended up paying “significantly more” than the asking after a “hotly contested” sale.
The Grove was one of the first places where wealthy folk settled after the Great Fire, due to its fresh air, elevated position and distance from the plague.
Along with the Wham! star, latter-day residents have included Kate Moss, Jude Law and Jamie Oliver.
Michael, who passed away aged just 53, anonymously paid for the Highgate Christmas tree and was the largest private sponsor of the local fair.
47 Grosvenor Square, Mayfair
A Saudi billionaire shelled out £18.6m for the former home of Artemis Onassis on London’s Grosvenor Square.
The 5,000 square foot lateral, which was launched last year at £25m, takes up the entire first floor of the red-brick block at No. 47, and was snapped up in a lightning-fast deal via local agency Wetherell. We hear boss Peter Wetherell managed to wrap things up in less than 24 hours – and claimed it as the fastest super-prime deal in Mayfair for over ten years.
The apartment is the only one in the building with a balcony overlooking the square, and what a balcony it is: the ornamental feature measures a full 63 feet in length and leads off a trio of grand reception rooms, which together provide some 2,000 feet of entertaining space.
Old Queen Street, St. James’s Park
A mansion on Old Queen Street sold for £15.45m just two days after the property market re-opened in May
A Russian billionaire helped allay a few fears at the top end of the market in May by spending £15.45m on a Georgian gem by St. James’s Park, at a record price per square foot.
We hear the unnamed forty-something buyer, who owns a major energy group, had started looking for a family home between the river and Marble Arch in January, with a healthy budget of £25m.
After touring options in Belgravia (at £2,800 psf), and in Mayfair (£5,500 psf),the Russian and his girlfriend settled on a stonking townhouse at No.26 Old Queen Street just before the UK’s coronavirus lockdown began in March.
Asking £16m, the black-brick mansion offered 6,573 square feet of space with a trio of grand receptions, a study, library, five bedroom suites, a club room with rooftop terrace, a wine/champagne store and a private rear garden overlooking St James’s Park; Nicola Fontanella of Argent Design came up with the interiors.
An easing of government restrictions allowed for a re-inspection on 13th May, and the sale completed on 15th May at a rate of £2,351 psf, eclipsing the previous record for the St James’s Park area (£2,213 psf), set by No.28 Queen Anne’s Gate in August 2018.
Mayfair-based Beauchamp Estates brokered the deal.
Ewhurst Park, Hampshire
High-profile model and actress Mandy Lieu spent a reported £28m on a renowned country estate in Hampshire, with plans to produce organic foodstuffs and open a deli in London’s Notting Hill.
The Hong Kong-based star snapped up a 925-acre Ewhurst Park in the North Wessex Downs AONB, which was once owned by the Duke of Wellington, but has more recently been a home to controversial hedge fund tycoon Michael Cohen. Cohen is said to have splashed £12m on the estate in 2007, and subsequently set about a comprehensive refurbishment programme, including creating new buildings designs by Adam Architecture.
Lieu told reporters that she plans to transform the property and its 18th-century grounds into a “world class” organic farm.
Vicarage Crescent, Battersea
A buyer was finally found for an important 17th century pile in Battersea.
Rumoured to have been designed by Sir Christopher Wren, Old Battersea House on Vicarage Crescent dates all the way back to the late 1600s – making it one of the oldest buildings in the area – and was designated as being of “more than specific interest” when listed by English Heritage in 1954. Measuring a mighty 10,100 square feet, the ten-bed mansion’s classical proportions and proximity to Wren’s magnificent Chelsea Hospital – in geography and timing – have led many to suggest the great architect was involved somewhere in the designs, although there’s no actual provenance.
Either way, it’s a marvel inside and out, with a baroque hallway, panelled formal drawing rooms, sweeping stairs, galleried landing and lashings of oak. An ancient walled garden surrounds the property on all four sides and encompasses a 110 foot-wide lawn that used to lead all the way down to the river. Former owners have included Colonel Charles G. Stirling and his wife Wilhemina, the sister of the artist Evelyn De Morgan, and the billionaire publisher Malcolm Forbes; the latter brought the grand interior back to life in 1970 after it fell into a sorry state, installing one of the great collections of Victorian art. The instruction was listed in 2017 via Savills at £12m, and took a price cut to £9.975m the following year, bringing the asking below the £1,000 per square foot threshold.
Titlarks Hill, Sunningdale
Contracts were exchanged on a “spectacular“ 19,500 square foot mansion in Sunningdale. The Hills End project by stately home specialist Consero London was launched at £22m in May last year, and agents Hamptons International and Knight Frank both confirmed a deal had been done – although the sale price remains under wraps. The three-storey Palladian-style pile nestles in the upper reaches of Titlarks Hill, with over 1.5 acres to call its own.
Original sales particulars promised buyers “an incomparable living experience in this quintessentially English setting…combining the very best British craftsmanship and internationally sourced materials, with innovative technology”. The layout includes six bedroom suites, vast reception spaces and a “substantial” swimming pool, gym and spa complex, along with a west-facing sky terrace and a couple of separate gatehouses for staff. The grounds were designed by a Chelsea Gold Medal-winner to provide “complete privacy”, and there’s some glorious views over the adjacent Sunningdale Golf Course.
Announcing the sale, Hamptons’ Sunningdale team said: “This is yet another example of the dedication and determination of our teams to provide outstanding services to our clients across our network, despite these particularly challenging times.” Knight Frank’s James Cleland described the instruction as “an absolute cracker”. Consero has been behind some of the Home Counties’ most opulent new residences – including the 26,150 square foot Dawn Hill and the 22,683 square foot Hurstbourne, which sold for a combined £50m in 2017.
The Draycott, Chelsea
A buyer swooped on the “magnificent” garden-level triplex unit at The Draycott, a new top-end boutique scheme just around the corner from Sloane Square.
The collaboration between Chepstow Advisory Ltd, architectural practice B3R and design studio 1508 London has delivered ten “revival-style” apartments from a 19th century Dutch-inspired corner block on Draycott Avenue. Pitched at £8.95m via Savills, this particular unit is the largest in the building (at 3,154 square feet) and came with some highly-prized private outside space, created by B3R and award-winning Chelsea Flower Show designer Hay-Joung Hwang, which features a frameless glass pavilion with an open fire.
Inside, the three storeys were laid out with a reception room, dining room, four bedroom suites, a media room, a gym, and second kitchen. Residents at the super-prime development also have access to concierge services provided by The Draycott Hotel..
Britton Street, Clerkenwell
An eye-catching deal went through on Britton Street in Clerkenwell. The historic Grade II listed townhouse sold at close to its £7.45m asking in the second highest transaction recorded by the Land Registry in east London over the last decade. It’s also thought to be a record sales price across all east and east central London postcodes this year (not including the City).
Now going by the name of “Infinity House”, the former rectory is the sole survivor of the first iteration of Britton Street (originally called Red Lion Street), much of which was demolished in the 1870s. It also escaped the bombs of World War Two, which obliterated most of the top half of the street, and was recently taken on as a project by acclaimed designers Agathe Jacquillat and Tomi Vollauschek. Working in collaboration with architect James Engel of Spaced Out, the team completely reimagined the space and took the internal area up to a whopping 5,570 square feet. The new iteration has six bedrooms, five bathrooms and a basement level with wellbeing suite, swimming pool, spa, cinema and wine cellar. Contemporary additions include a cantilevered staircase, glass ceilings, walls and floors, along with a central courtyard planted up with a mature cherry tree.
Becky Fatemi’s Rokstone worked with Tobias Allen’s TBA Property on the deal – the first in a new joint venture between the westside and eastside agents.
The Kildrummy Estate, Aberdeenshire
An American couple bought the sprawling Kildrummy Estate in Aberdeenshire for something over £11m, after the 5,600 acre property attracted “a significant level of interest and attracted viewers from the UK and abroad.”
The rural estate includes a 1990s-built principal house plus a grand Jacobean-style Edwardian mansion (formerly run as a 60-room hotel), plus a portfolio of 12 residential dwellings, a pub, significant forestry plantations and amenity woodlands, a wind farm, agricultural land, and lots of sporting opportunities.
Savills completed the deal on 5th June after “a lengthy period of due diligence.” The sale was indicative of a market that had remained relatively active despite the Covid-19 crisis, said the firm – which handled over £30m-worth of Scottish estate sales during lockdown.
St John’s Manor, Jersey
A magnificent estate on Jersey changed hands, two years after hitting the market at £22m.
Considered to be “among the finest and most prestigious country estates in the Channel Islands”, St John’s Manor has been the home of Canadian-born international businessman and honorary Rwandan consul John Dick for the last four decades.
The imposing Italianate seat has its own consecrated chapel and stands in ten acres of “unparalleled” gardens, surrounded by 40 acres of farmland and woodland.
Originally launched at £22m in January 2018, the asking price was reduced to £17.5m in August 2019.
Knight Frank confirmed the sale, but declined to verify the name of the buyers or the final purchase price.
Marlborough Place, St John’s Wood
One of the stickiest instructions in St. John’s Wood finally found a taker.
Despite its prime position on sought-after Marlborough Place, and significant heft (5,727 square feet), the handsome late Victorian semi chalked up 152 weeks on the market before a buyer finally came along in October.
Initially launched in early 2017 at £12.5m, the asking price was gradually ratcheted down to £8.95m (just over £1,500 psf).
Switch House West, Battersea Power Station
Buying agents reported an increasing appetite for bulk deals in 2020, and a Middle Eastern investor demonstrated the trend by picking up a batch of six units at Battersea Power Station.
The sextet of “fabulous” studios in Switch House West, part of the second phase of the giant south London regen project, were collectively listed for £5,428,000 and exchanged as a job-lot.
Knightsbridge agency Merchants Row introduced the buyer, who “continues to have faith in the London market despite the circumstances surrounding Covid-19”; completion is set for next year and the plan is to let the apartments out to the likes of Apple when they move into the same building.
Kenmare Bay, County Kerry
An Culu, an extraordinary residence on the edge of Kenmare Bay in County Kerry, was tucked away at close to its €4.5m asking, marking one of the largest country property transactions in Ireland this year.
Weighing in at 9,000 square feet, the former “tea folly” house sits on 4.5-acres of land overlooking the water and underwent a spirited reworking in the late 90s, after being acquired up by the entrepreneur Kevin Reardan.
Along with medieval-inspired features including a moat, drawbridge, castellated entrance, stained glass windows and cut stone staircase serving all five storeys, the property also came with some more modern touches – notably a leisure basement with heated swimming pool, steam room and sauna. The historic theme continues with the furnishings – think silk padded walls, bed canopies and sumptuous drapes and curtains – and the top floor living room with domed frescoed ceiling and terrace overlooking Kenmare Bay deserves special mention.
The new owner will also have the run of a purpose-built harbour with deep water quay and floating marina.
Savills’ team in Cork handled the sale in conjunction with the agency’s Country Division, and described the property as “most definitely not your typical fairy-tale castle”.
A property developer bagged a monster discount on a London penthouse flat, securing a four-bedroom apartment in Chelsea Harbour that was once valued at £10 million, for just £3.75m (£660 per square foot).
That’s a remarkable 62.5% reduction on the flat’s highest asking price, 56% lower than the £8.5m advertised earlier this year, and a solid 50% less than the previous owner paid for it 18 months ago (£7.5m).
The deal was negotiated by Paul Roshan, who runs an eponoymous luxury development company, on behalf of a client who Roshan described as “a high-profile Jewish tycoon”.
He claimed the acquisition represents “the biggest discount of a London penthouse flat in history”.