London's most expensive house sales of 2023: from Tim Burton's glass house to Rihanna's former rental

London's most expensive house sales of 2023: from Tim Burton's glass house to Rihanna's former rental

Interest rates and energy bills weren’t a worry for the ultra-wealthy buyers who snapped up some of London’s most lavish homes this year

Some of London's most expensive homes on the market found buyers this year.

Most homeowners, and would-be owners, have spent the past year agonising about interest rates and bickering about how soon is too soon to turn on the heating.

Meanwhile, in the surreal world of the international elite, ultra-high net-worth individuals have been hard at work picking up everything from sprawling Regency mansions to gigantic apartments and modern trophy houses all over the capital.

These are the most extraordinary London homes sold in 2023.

The trophy deal

£113 million

Exterior of Hanover Lodge, Regent’s Park
Hanover Lodge was on the market for £113 million
Google Maps

One of the biggest sales of the year was that of Hanover Lodge, a sprawling 26,000 sq ft mansion in Regent’s Park, with a £113 million price-tag — more than 220 times the cost of an average London home.

Ownership of the property is shrouded in a complex web of offshore companies and non-disclosure agreements.

But it has been linked to Russian property investor Andrey Goncharenko, and comes at a time when many wealthy Russian owners are attempting to offload their trophy London properties.

The house was purchased through a Gibraltar-incorporated holding company, and the buyer is reported to be Ravi Ruia, an Indian billionaire and the founder of investment fund Essar.

The Grade II*-listed house on Park Road was designed by John Nash, architect of Regency London, and former owners have included Napoleonic war hero Lieutenant-General Sir Robert Arbuthnot, and US heiress and socialite Ava von Hofmannsthal.

It has been remodelled many times during its life, and currently features a gym, sauna and an art gallery, as well as a swimming pool that can be converted into a ballroom.

Just to put the scale of this purchase into perspective, in the unlikely event that its new owner put up a 10 per cent deposit and took out a 25-year mortgage at five per cent, repayments would come in at about £595,000 per month.

The outlier

£1.5 million

180-degree views from the top floors of the building, currently used as living space

Perilously perched on the banks of the River Thames a house nicknamed the leaning tower of Rotherhithe attracted global interest when it went up for auction in spring.

The four storey building is just 11 feet wide, and was the sole survivor of bombings during the Blitz that destroyed the rest of the terrace it once stood on.

After the war this house was built by a barge construction company which used it as an office, before it was divided into flats and rented out.

Despite its peeling façade and ramshackle interiors the house, which is at the end of Fulford Street, attracted plenty of bids.

Savills auctions ended up selling the lonely tower for £1.5 million to a local buyer who intends to renovate the property, which has amazing views of Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf, and live there.

The penthouse

£55 million

The penthouse of the Centre Point tower sold this year

Spanning the top two floors of the 1960s Centre Point building on New Oxford Street, this split-level apartment measures a massive 7,285 sq ft.

This gives space for three bedrooms, plus bar, cinema, music room, wine-tasting room, study and gym, all with amazing views of London through floor-to-ceiling windows.

It was first listed in 2021, seven years after work began on converting the former office building into just over 80 apartments.

This year, developer Almacantar announced its showpiece apartment — at a guide price of £55 million — had been sold to an anonymous buyer.

The modern marvel

£17.5 million

Eglon House was on the market for £20 million
Joas Souza

Eglon House is a slice of real estate spread thickly with Marmite, and a world away from the pastel-painted townhouses of Primrose Hill.

The 13,000sq ft former home of film director Tim Burton makes a statement, from its full-height bronze windows to its glass brick façade.

This property consists of two interlinked buildings, facing each other across a courtyard garden.

Luxuries include a swimming pool that doubles as a cinema room, with a mechanical floor and waterproof screen.

Agency Beauchamp Estates sold the property for “just under” the asking price of £17.5 million to a British media entrepreneur who plans to use it as a live/work space.

And although the Primrose Hill property was originally listed for £20 million in 2021, the deal still represented a record price for the area.

The maximalist fantasy

£7.895 million

Stone columns and a frescoed ceiling adorn the dining room

From the outside this Grade II listed Victorian townhouse on Clapham Common North looks like many other period London homes.

But its interiors told another story. 

The 42ft drawing room will make a magnificent space to celebrate Christmas with a European flavour.

It features stone scagliola columns, floor to ceiling French doors, twin fireplaces, all topped off with a frescoed ceiling (hand painted in 1865) framed with golden plasterwork.

The property was listed by Savills with a guide price of £7.895 million and was snapped up at close to that sum by a family who had initially been looking for a rental property but jumped at the chance to buy something truly out of the ordinary.

The glamour-by-association

£27.5 million

Rihanna's former rental home went up for sale in 2020
Aston Chase/Tony Murray Photography

When Rihanna needed a London pad she opted for a fabulous 6,332 sq ft double-house in St John’s Wood.

The star kept it from 2018 to 2020, at a cost of £18,000 a week, and shared glimpses of its lavish interiors with her Instagram followers. The eight-bedroom house went on sale in 2020 for £27.5 million.

Earlier this year it was announced that a Chinese family had agreed to pay more than £3,500 per square foot in a deal brokered by estate agents Savills and Ashton Chase.

“This sale is indicative of the surge in demand from Chinese buyers for super-prime homes in London,” says Mark Pollack, co-founding director of Aston Chase.

“As a result of an inability to travel during the pandemic, many wealthy Chinese and Hong Kong residents are prioritising a Plan B in the eventuality of another unforeseen event leading to the Chinese government restricting movement.”

The white stucco house was built in 1844 by successful builder William Holme Twentyman, and features both formal and casual dining rooms, a library, gym and landscaped garden.

Planning permission has been granted to more than double the size of the property, adding a health spa with swimming pool, sauna, steam room, and massage and beauty treatment rooms.

The supersized flat

£19 million

The Bryanston was listed for £19 million

At 2,933 sq ft, this simply enormous apartment at The Bryanston, overlooking Hyde Park, is bigger than most people’s family homes.

The 10th-floor property was listed for £19 million, and sold for about £6,000 per square foot, making it one of the most expensive flats to be sold in London this year.

Key to its appeal is its proximity to top-notch green space — according to Knight Frank, views of the great outdoors add about 10 per cent to the price of a home in central London.

Canny, deep-pocketed buyers have been busy picking up extra-large lateral apartments in developments like The Peninsula in Belgravia, in the hopes that rarity means they can only grow in value.

Not only are there few prime building sites left in London, but Westminster council has introduced a policy of refusing planning consent for flats bigger than 1,615 sq ft.

“It is the last opportunity to buy larger new-build homes,” said Peter Wetherell, founder and executive chairman of estate agent Wetherell, which has been selling homes at the building.

Prices start at £2.4 million.

The escape from London

£15 million

Simon Cowell sold his £15 million home this year
Provided by Cohort Capital

After his Holland Park home was burgled in 2015 while he, his fiancée Lauren Silverman and their son slept, Simon Cowell decided to put the property on the market.

This year he finally found a buyer willing to part with a reported £15 million for the six-bedroom Georgian house, with its lavish garden, bar and gym.

The Cowell family had already decamped to a new Oxfordshire home.

The one that didn’t sell

£250 million

The Holme in Regent's Park, London.
The Holme is yet to find a buyer with its asking price of £250 million
Julian Elliott/ Getty Images

The biggest listing of the year was what can only be described as a palace — the London home of Saudi Prince Khaled bin Sultan al-Saud.

The 73-year-old prince and his family have owned the 40-room, 29,000 sq ft mansion since 1998.

The Holme, in Regent’s Park, has one of central London’s largest private gardens, at four acres, featuring an ornamental lake and tennis courts.

Things started to go wrong for the Saudi royal in 2016 when he put the property up as collateral for a lease on a private jet.

Payments faltered and lawyers began to untangle the complex ownership of the property.

The prince is reported to have already offloaded a couple of yachts and a home in Paris to resolve his financial woes, and in March The Holme was put up for sale by receivers FRP Advisory at a price of £250 million.

If it achieves this, the white stucco house would be the most expensive sold in Britain, and one of the most expensive pieces of real estate on the planet.

About three dozen viewings have so far been conducted by estate agents Beauchamp Estates and Knight Frank.

But, said an insider, none has resulted in an asking-price offer.