Hyde Park mansion set to become Britain's most expensive home after £280m bid

The 45-bedroom property was originally listed with a £300m asking price

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The Independent Online

A Hyde Park mansion that has been empty for almost three years – proving too expensive for even the richest oligarchs – may finally be sold.

A private bid for £280m has been submitted for 2 to 8a Rutland Gate – which, if accepted, would make the 60,000sq ft property the most expensive single home ever to be sold in Britain.

Rumours about the potential sale of the 45-bedroom mansion have been swirling around London property circles for several days, although the identity of the bidder is unknown.

The Knightsbridge house has been on the market since 2012, after the death of its most recent owner, Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

It was originally listed with an asking price of £300m –more than double the price of the UK’s second most expensive home.

The eye-watering price and lack of bidders had sparked jokes that it was the only property in London too expensive for the city’s super-rich property buyers.

But last night, Cedric Emmanuel of property agents Swiss Group, which is handling the sale, confirmed: “We have received an offer of £280m and it is under consideration.”

Three other sources said that the terms of the sale had effectively been agreed, or would be confirmed soon.

One suggested that the bidder may be another Saudi – although a potential Russian buyer is also thought to have expressed an interest.

Other parties rumoured to have been interested  include the nearby Qatar embassy.

Local estate agents speculated that the property, which was once owned by the late Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, would be split into apartments, or revert  to the four family homes for which it was originally designed.

The property has a large basement swimming pool, underground parking and several lifts. But whoever buys it will have to spend several million pounds refurbishing it.

A public auction of the property’s contents taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday is believed to be linked to the impending sale. A source said that the potential new buyer did not want any of the home’s fittings.

Among the 1,252 lots up for sale are a French Louis XV Pompadour antique fireplace, 41 Murano glass chandeliers and more than 100 gold-plated tissue boxes, along with a number of marble bathtubs, sinks and bidets.

But not all the lots are luxury goods. A range of kitchen appliances – including a toaster and grill once used by the Saudi family’s in-house caterers – are also for sale.

There are no guide prices on any of the items so furniture worth thousands of pounds could sell for a fraction of its worth. However, auctioneer Pro Auction said it was hopeful the items would raise £450,000 in total.

At a pre-auction public viewing of the contents, the main focus was not the 24-carat gold bins or vintage trinkets, but pairs of lavish Jacquard curtains.

A couple visiting from North Wales had their eyes on the furnishings. They said they had just built their own house and had found that ordinarily curtains were far too expensive to have custom made.

Another visitor was less impressed. “It’s all so ugly,” they said. “Almost all the furniture is new and some of the ornaments are even made in China.”