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International Property

Record US$209 million paid for most expensive home ever sold in Britain

Buyer of the two-floor penthouse flat in London’s swanky Knightsbridge will also be hit with a whopping stamp duty of up to US$31 million

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 October, 2018, 11:34pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 October, 2018, 8:53pm

A two-storey penthouse flat in One Hyde Park, the luxury Knightsbridge development, has been sold to a secretive offshore buyer for £160 million (US$209 million) – making it the most expensive home ever sold in Britain.

Apartment B. 10.01 – which occupies the top two floors of block B of the complex and comes with two wine cellars and two balconies overlooking the park – was sold this summer to two holding companies in Guernsey. The record-breaking sale to PHB London Holdings and PHB London Dormant took place in May, according to recent filings at the Land Registry.

It is impossible to identity the true buyer of the property, as British crown dependencies – such as Guernsey – do not have to list the beneficial owners of companies. The buying firms are registered at a PO box address in a seafront office complex in St Peter Port, Guernsey’s capital.

The £160 million sale price far exceeds the previous record for a UK house sale of £140 million (US$183 million) for Park Place, a stately home near Henley-on-Thames, which was bought by the Russian exile billionaire Andrey Borodin in 2011. Russian authorities have accused Borodin of overseeing a 13 billion rouble (US$195 million) fraud while he was running the Bank of Moscow.

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The sale of the penthouse in block B also surpasses the previous One Hyde Park record selling price of £137 million (US$179 million) for a triple-storey flat in block A, sold to the Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov in 2011. Block B is said to have the best views of the park.

Residents of One Hyde Park are able to gain access to the facilities and concierge operations of the Mandarin Oriental hotel next door, including ordering room service directly to their flats.

On top of the sale price, the new owner of the block B penthouse will be hit with a stamp duty bill of £19 million (US$24.9 million) if it is their primary home or £23.9 million (US$31.2) if it is a second home.

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If the new buyer wishes to remain anonymous he or she will be hit with a further charge of £220,000 (US$287,000) a year under a new tax intended to encourage foreign owners of Britain’s most expensive homes to reveal their identities. Research by The Guardian has revealed more than 200 wealthy overseas homeowners who would rather pay the annual tax than reveal themselves.

The special annual tax on homes owned via “non-natural persons” such as offshore companies was introduced in 2013, to crack down on “dirty money” used to secretly buy up luxury homes.

There is nothing illegal in owning a property via an offshore company.