A Regent’s Park mansion is on the market after a massive loan secured by its Saudi owners expired, putting the home in the hands of receivers and triggering what is likely to be London’s most expensive ever house sale.
The Holme, set in four acres of Regent’s Park in central London, has already attracted interest from ultra-wealthy buyers and the agents selling the property are hoping for as much as £250mn from a deal, according to people with knowledge of the transaction. That would top the price of London’s previous most expensive home, the £210mn mansion overlooking Hyde Park owned by Evergrande founder Hui Ka Yan.
The sale, and the unusual circumstances around it, provide a rare window into the dealings of wealthy foreign investors in London real estate — transactions that are often shrouded in secrecy.
“It is extraordinary to have four acres of Regent’s Park being repossessed,” said one property investor with knowledge of the sale, which was first reported by React News.
Prince Abdullah bin Khalid bin Sultan al-Saud, a member of the Saudi royal family and representative of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations in Vienna, is one of the beneficial owners of the property along with other family members, according to records from the Land Registry.
The mansion fell into the hands of receivers after a loan of around £150mn, secured against the property as well as other assets including a New York home and a plane, expired, according to three people with knowledge of the arrangement.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s day-to-day ruler, has squeezed members of the royal family and even imprisoned some princes, alongside business leaders, in the Ritz Carton hotel in Riyadh in 2017 in a purported anti-corruption campaign. Many royals have since kept a lower profile amid rumours that more of their perks and wealth could be stripped away. Prince Abdullah could not be reached for comment.
The Holme is the highest-valued asset in the portfolio of properties against which the debt is secured, and a sale of the London house is understood to be the easiest way to pay off the loan, according to two people with knowledge of the arrangement.
The receivers have appointed agents Knight Frank and Beauchamp Estates to handle the high-end sale, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.
The 205-year-old villa, one of a small number of sought-after residences located inside the central London park, was built as a home for James Burton, a Georgian property developer, who built large chunks of the capital in areas including Bloomsbury and Regent Street. The freeholder of the land is the Crown Estate. Knight Frank and Beauchamp Estates declined to comment.
“It is a proper trophy . . . and you will have to wait a while for the next one, so I would not be surprised if it breaks records. It would not be a low-profile transaction so will require a buyer who is not at all shy,” said Roarie Scarisbrick, a partner at Property Vision, a buying agent, who added that the list of buyers with the resources to purchase the house is small and so the final price is hard to predict.
The market for London’s most expensive homes has been increasingly dominated by overseas buyers in recent decades, with the UK capital favoured in part because of its robust property laws and the ability to purchase discreetly, leaving virtually no trace of ultimate ownership.
But the UK government has recently sought to cast light on opaque ownership structures, pressing overseas organisations to declare their beneficial ownership status or face fines. According to one person with knowledge of the sales process, two of the three potential buyers to have expressed an interest are London-based, with the other overseas. The house was likely to be bought by a developer rather than a family planning to live in it, he added.
London’s previous most expensive house sale, the 45-room mansion at 2-8a Rutland Gate, was struck in secret just before the Covid-19 pandemic and involved a British Virgin Islands company buying the property from a Curaçao-registered entity. The FT revealed last year that the home belongs to Hui, once China’s richest man.
Additional reporting by Sam Jones