A London embassy in one of the world’s most desirable streets is set to spark a £100 million bidding frenzy among the world’s elite.
Cash-strapped officials at Nepalese government are weighing up their options to sell its prized asset – 12A Kensington Palace Gardens.
Kensington Palace Gardens in west London is one of the world’s finest addresses with homes rarely coming onto the open market.
The guarded street, dubbed ‘Billionaire Boulevard’, is home to embassies, ambassadors and a number of top businessmen.
And any new owners would be able to boast that they have British royalty as their neighbours.
Prince William and Kate Middleton live just a few hundred yards away in Kensington Palace – and Prince Harry even has a four-bedroom bachelor pad there.
The rumoured sale has sparked anger among the Nepalese in the UK and abroad, who are furious that the government could sell off such an important part of its history.
But there will be a huge level of interest among the world’s wealthiest families, who will queue up for the prestige of owning a home at the exclusive address.
Number 12A, built in 1865, was gifted to the Nepalese in 1937 as a thank you for the heroic help from the Gurkhas to the British armed forces.
Soldiers see it as a thank you for the blood spilt by the Gurkhas and regard the Victorian villa as a priceless piece of history.
Nepal pay a nominal £1,000 a year rent on the crown lease, but the mansion – which has remained untouched for half a century – requires more than £5 million in essential repairs.
The rundown property, which backs onto Palace Green, has been described as a “national embarrassment” in its current condition.
Toilets don’t flush, the roof needs repairs and visa applicants are greeted by the sound of pressure cooker whistles from upstairs.
But despite the 32,000 sq/ft property’s rundown condition, there is likely to be a bidding war the moment the property is officially made available.
Trevor Abrahmsohn, from Glentree Estates, sold Bernie Ecclestone’s house on Kensington Palace Gardens to Lakshmi Mittal in 2004.
He is familiar with the Nepalese embassy but believes it will need tens of millions spent returning the property to its former glory.
The agent said: “The building has the most remarkable, majestic entertaining reception overlooking the garden.
“The entrance hall and the grand staircase are quite extraordinary.
“It is evident that in its heyday this property was one of the grandest mansions in the capital but very little has been spent on it in the interim and it does appear to be stuck in a time warp.
“The property will probably need considerable restoration and refurbishment that could mean anything up to £40 million.
“With all the embassies in the road, security is probably higher than any other private road in the UK.
“This is why it is so sought after amongst oligarchs who crave their privacy and protection.
“The mansions in the road are surrounded with sizeable gardens and that is unique in central London.
“Of course, once you exit this road you are literally in the centre of London.
“Since there are very few properties in this road available at any time, of the few people able to afford it, there could certainly be a bidding war.”
Gary Hersham, director of Beauchamp Estates, added: “The house is spectacular and worth £100 million-plus. There will be no shortage of interest.”
With house values on Kensington Palace Gardens standing at around £6,000sq/ft, a fully restored 12A could be worth around £180 million.
However, any potential sale will be met with disgust by the proud Nepalese, who regard the four-storey mansion as an enormously important part of their nation’s history.
It was the country’s first embassy and the lease was extended for another 99 years in 1980.
Major (rtd) Tikendra Dal Dewan, from the British Gurkha Welfare Society, described the mansion as “precious”.
He said: “We understand the government sent a committee of seven to look at the property but no decision has been made yet.
“There is a strong emotional side to the story. We have had a relationship for 200 years with the UK through the Gurkhas and this is a unique building to us.
“It is a very precious thing to us and we have written to the ambassador about it and strongly aired our views.
“We want to pressurise the government to change their decision. It is a unique bond that we have with the UK, and no other countries have the same relationship.”
Kensington Palace Gardens is owned entirely by the Crown Estate so only leasehold sales are possible.
The road is next to Kensington Palace, the residence of the the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and has some of the world’s most impressive homes.
Despite making up just 29 properties, it is estimated the total value of the properties is in excess of £3.4 BILLION.
The entire 2,600 properties in the Cotswolds town of Chipping Norton, in comparison, make up just one sixth of the value of Kensington Palace Gardens.
It has the Russian, Lebanese, Romanian, Slovakian, Czech and Norwegian embassies along with the ambassadors’ homes of a number of countries.
The Saudi royal family, as well as the Sultan of Brunei have homes as does Russian oligarch Len Blavatnik and Foxtons founder Jon Hunt. The Mittal family own several homes.
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