The future of the New Zealand explorer Sir Edmund Hillary's Auckland home remains unclear after it was sold at auction today.
The house at 278A Remuera Road went to the bid of Auckland estate agent Graham Wall, who purchased it on behalf of clients he would not name.
The selling price of $1.9m (£719,000) was just below the house's government valuation of $1.93m. Planning restrictions allow only one unit to be built on the 1738sq m site.
The 198sq m house was built in 1957 by Sir Edmund, four years after he and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay conquered Mt Everest. Sir Edmund died in January last year.
Auctioneers Bayleys Real Estate said prior to the sale that there had been strong interest from private buyers and developers, and it was difficult to predict what would happen to it.
Mr Wall said after the sale he didn't know what his client intended to do with the house.
He would not reveal who his clients were, or whether they were New Zealanders
"I'd love to tell you but the reason that they employ someone like me to do that job is to retain their confidentiality."
Bidding on the property at first stalled at $1.5m, after which auctioneers Bayleys held discussions with the trustee, the solicitor for the Sir Edmund Hillary Trust, about whether it would sell.
They returned 10 minutes later to say the bidding had not reached the property's reserve, and re-opened the auction. Bidding then stopped at $1.7m, after which another discussion was held.
Auctioneer Hayden Duncan then returned to say the family would sell at that price, and bidding began once again.
Mr Wall and a phone bidder then continued to battle, with Mr Wall's final bid of $1.9m winning.
Mr Wall said he wasn't given a specific spending limit by his client. "I was told to use my head."
David Rainbow, of Bayleys, said he was happy with the result.
"We obviously had competitive bidding and once it was on the market two people fought it out and paid a price that the vendors were happy to accept," he said.
"We all would have liked to had more but it's a sign of the times I suppose."
Mr Rainbow said it was hard to predict the price because of the recession and the uniqueness of the property, which was an impressive site with views over Remuera to the harbour and with a large section backing onto Kings School.
"The capital value for rates was $1.93m... but I didn't know whether it was going to be above, below or level.
"Capital values are often assessed by someone who's never been to a house so it's a very difficult figure to assess."
Mr Rainbow said he was thrilled to be involved with selling the property but wished he knew who had bought it.
"I'm sure it'll all come out in the wash at some stage."
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