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Hyde Park Mansion on Sale for £300 Million

By Ed Hammond and Sally Gainsbury
Thursday, 13 Sep 2012 | 6:03 AM ET

The London mansion of Rafiq Hariri, Lebanon’s late prime minister, has been put up for sale in what is expected to be the most valuable housing transaction in British history.

London Housing
Allan Baxter | Image Bank | Getty Images
London Housing

The stucco-fronted property, which overlooks Hyde Park, is being offered to a select list of wealthy international buyers at an asking price of 300 million pounds, according to insiders.

The figure, more than double the previous UK house-price record of 140 million pounds, underlines the position of London’s luxury property market as an asset class cocooned from the country’s economic realities.

The 45-bedroom, seven-storey building runs from 2-8A Rutland Gate and covers an area of 60,000 sq ft — slightly smaller than the playing surface of a Premier League football pitch.

The property, built as four separate family houses, was owned by Mr. Hariri until his assassination in 2005. After his death, the building was made over as a gift to Sultan bin Abdulaziz, crown prince of Saudi Arabia who died in October. Mr. Harari had close business ties with the prince’s family.

The property has a large swimming pool, an industrial-sized kitchen, several lifts and underground parking. Its internal decor is rumored to contain millions of pounds worth of gold leaf. The windows in the house, 68 of which face towards the park, are thought to have been bullet-proofed by Mr. Harari during his ownership.

Savills and Beauchamp Estates, the leading London estate agents, both said the property, which is not officially being marketed, was probably the largest single family home left in central London.

“It is a truly rarefied property on the market and whoever buys it is going to pay a lot of premium for the unusual size in that location,” said Charles McDowell, a London-based consultant specializing in high-end residential property.

“You are going to have to wait a long, long time for something like this to come on the market again,” he added.

If the property fetches its asking price, it would be the most expensive home ever sold in Britain, with a value nearly 800 times the average London property price of 388,000 pounds.

The house was bought in 1982 by the Yunak Corporation — a company registered in Curaçao in the Dutch Antilles, a tax haven at the time — and run by Mr. Hariri.

London’s prime property market, the top five per cent of the market by value, has attracted billions in investment from overseas buyers during the past two years. Prices in the top slice of the London market have risen 49 percent since March 2009, according to estate agents Knight Frank, driven almost entirely by foreign buyers.

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