Witanhurst-style billionaires' homes are on the rise in north west London
PUBLISHED: 20:22 09 June 2015 | UPDATED: 20:28 09 June 2015
London is the billionaire capital of Europe. Over 140 of these ultra ultra high net worth individuals now have homes in the capital, and 72 of these use it as their primary base, according to a recent report.
The Ultra Prime Barometer survey by Beauchamp Estates and Dataloft said that Europe’s billionaires are enjoying a “golden age” as their wealth rose at a faster rate (11.9 per cent) than the cost of their lifestyles, including super prime homes, which have risen by only 3.9 per cent.
According to the report, the ‘average billionaire’ now owns four properties in Europe, including a £21.4million mansion in London.
North west London is distinguished as one of the preferred locations for these billionaire buyers, with Hampstead, St John’s Wood and Regent’s Park all counted as hotspots for ultra prime purchases.
The rise in London-based billionaires, and their increased wealth has seen development of palatial properties in the city boom, which will come as little surprise to north Londoners with properties such as Witanhurst – owned by Russian billionaire Alexei Guriev (worth approximately £2.5billion according to the Forbes Rich List) – on the doorstep.
Gary Hersham, of Beauchamp Estates said: “The rise in billionaires is why currently there are around half a dozen palatial private homes each providing over 30,000sq ft of living space in the development pipeline across Prime Central London.
“London commentators often forget that in Russia, the Ukraine and Middle East the homes of the super-rich are massive compared to traditional London homes.
“Palatial properties in places like the Ukraine, Qatar and Saudi Arabia can be up to 150,000sq ft in size. So an 8,000sq ft London townhouse is like a broom cupboard when compared to super-rich palaces elsewhere on the globe.”
These figures put a new perspective on the infamous Witanhurst development, which at 90,000sq ft is now the second biggest private dwelling in London, after Buckingham Palace.
The house was originally built between 1913 and 1920 for Sir Arthur Crosfield, heir to a soap fortune, with 25 bedrooms and 365 windows (one for each day of the year).
Bought on behalf of Mr Guriev in 2010 for £50million, a reported further £50million has been spent on the 40,000sq ft double layer basement extension.
While this is a particularly lavish example, as Mr Hersham says, it is a fairly typical pattern for the super-rich buyer.
“This is why some adroit super-rich vendors are creating a new level in the London property market and private palaces that are a size level above anything currently for sale in the marketplace,” says Hersham.
“They know that like a coveted painting the rarity value and quality of such a property will ensure that it holds and increases in value.
“There will always be super-rich buyers available for truly unique trophy mansions at this top one per cent of the London housing market.”
According to the report, this is not a trend that looks likely to drop any time soon. Over the last five years the number of billionaires worldwide has been growing at seven per cent per year.
As well as London property, homes on the French Riviera, in Tuscany and on Greek islands are also popular purchases for this demographic.