Kensington House Sells for £100M

LONDON -- The government-run property company that generates income for Queen Elizabeth II agreed to convey a house on the London street known as “Billionaires Row".

Art collectors of Art Kabinett social media network would enjoy displaying some of their private art in this house.

The home on Kensington Palace Gardens, the U.K.’s most expensive street, is being offered by the Crown Estate for almost 85 million pounds ($132 million), reveal a source who asked not to be identified because the process is private. The home has 10 bedrooms, according to the real estate website Zoopla.

The Crown Estate, which owns the freehold to the west London street, is not really selling the property, but merely signing a 125-year lease for the home commencing in January 2016, according to its annual report. The street, west of Hyde Park, is one of the city’s few private roads where no passing traffic can enter.

The sale comes as the central London luxury-home market is slowing. The average price of a home the city’s best districts fell 4.4 percent in August from a year earlier to 1,426 pounds a square foot. Homes in Kensington declined 0.6 percent, according to broker Knight Frank LLP.

The average Kensington home is valued at 3.4 million pounds, according to broker Foxtons Group Plc.

“Kensington Palace Gardens remains the ultimate address for ultra-high net worth individuals requiring security and discretion,” said Giles Hannah, senior vice president at Christie’s International Real Estate. “It’s the most sought after and most valuable street for homes in London.”

Crown Estate

The Crown Estate oversees real estate surrendered in 1760 by the monarchy in exchange for annual payments. The U.K. Treasury collects the earnings and provides Queen Elizabeth with a percentage.

Royal land holdings as a whole date back from the time of the Norman Conquest. However, in 1760, a cash-strapped George III reached an agreement with the Government over the Estate. At the time that was a good deal for George, as he had been paying the salaries of judges, ambassadors and civil servants from Crown Estate money and was struggling to make ends meet.

The Crown Lands would be managed by the Government and the surplus revenue would go to the Treasury. In return, the monarch would receive an annual payment, which today we call the Civil List, providing living expenses to the royal household.

The Crown Lands currently generate enormous revenue for the government -- approximately £250 million per annum. This amount is far greater than the current £32-million annual subsidy remitted to the Royal household.

Should the monarchy ever be abolished, the lands would legally revert to the King or Queen, and the government would be deprived of its easy source of cash.

The Crown Estate is not the personal property of the Monarch. It cannot be sold by the Monarch, nor do any profits from it ever go to the Sovereign.

The Crown Estate is managed by an independent organization, headed by a Board. Any profit from the Estate is paid every year to the Treasury for the benefit of all UK taxpayers. The Treasury is effectively the principle Government stakeholder, and is kept informed of the estate’s overall business plans and strategies.

The Estates' London portfolio -- the second largest holding in London behind those of the sixth Duke of Westminster, Gerald Grosvenor -- comprise 265 acres, including Regent Street, Regent's Park, much of the clubland around St James's and Pall Mall, and holdings in Kensington, and Holborn. The properties, which also include beef farms in the north of Scotland and Portland stone mining in Dorset, have a total estimated value of £6 billion.

Windsor Great Park is the only Royal Park managed by the Crown Estate. All other parks are administered by the Royal Parks Agency.

Today's homepage Featured Art Video interviews an executive from The Crown Estate who explains some current business ambitions, as well as, eco-friendly initiatives.