Hampstead’s world-famous Air Studios sold to Russian football tycoon as former owner bids ‘emotional goodbye’

Paul Woolf outside AIR Studios NW3

Paul Woolf outside AIR Studios NW3 - Credit: Archant

The former co-owner of Air Studios has bid an “emotional goodbye” to the legendary venue after its sale – with the buyer thought to be the Russian owner of Premier League club AFC Bournemouth.

Paul Woolf, 68, said the deal to sell the studios was finalised on September 14 after an “amazingly quick” three-week process. The new owner is believed to be businessman Maxim Demin.

The Swiss-based tycoon has held a top position at Russian oil and gas company Tasneft as well as part-owning Zenit Bank. Mr Woolf declined to confirm the identity of the new owner, but Mr Demin is understood to have met staff in the wake of the sale.

He said: “We had 25 people interested, and two who were serious. He turned up to look around and he really liked it and wanted to buy it. Our whole thing was about handing on the baton to the right person. We wanted somebody committed to the studio and passionate about music, and he fitted that criteria.”

Two new directors have been registered with Companies House, Stephen Burgess and Nicholas Rothwell. Mr Rothwell, who is also based in Switzerland, is a director at AFC Bournemouth.

The Ham&High understands Mr Demin told staff he plans to invest in facilities and ruled out any job cuts at the business in Lyndhurst Road.

The space, which was founded by Beatles producer Sir George Martin, has been the studio of choice for Oscar-winning composers such as Hans Zimmer and Dario Marianelli. The scores for Love Actually, Harry Potter and the Sherlock TV series were recorded there.

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The studios came under threat in 2015 when a basement excavation application from their neighbours, Andrew and Elizabeth Jeffreys, threatened to stop recording taking place.

A two-year planning battle raged, before the Jeffreys withdrew their application in October 2017.

Mr Woolf, who part-bought the studio in 2010, said he was “over the moon” with how events had turned out.

“It was emotional saying goodbye, and it still feels very weird,” he said.

“If you had told me two years ago that all the problems would have gone away, and I’d have sold it, I’d never have believed you.”