Thursday, March 10, 2011

Forbes Family Lightens Real Estate Load in London

SELLER: Forbes family
LOCATION: London, U.K.
PRICE: £12,000,000

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Listing pictures are slim but, as first reported in the Financial Times last week, the U.S.-based Forbes family have put Old Battersea House, their historic and dignified outpost in London's Battersea, on the market with an asking price of £12,000,000. A quick consult with our currency conversion contraption shows that amounts to $19,413,500US at today's rates.

The Forbes family's considerable fortune is largely derived from publishing and they are best known for their eponymous magazine that publishes fascinating lists of the world's wealthiest individuals and other financial information both important and trivial.

The sprawling Forbes clan has opted to unload Old Battersea House as part of the family's planning to ensure the family's wealth is secure for future generations. Listing information shows that the Grade II listed mansion sits right on the Thames Rivers–or at least, right across the road from the Thames–and includes a baroque hallway, wide staircase, 5 reception rooms that include a paneled drawing room or two, oak doors and floors, a modernized kitchen and a total of 10 double bedrooms and an unknown number of terliting and bathing facilities, at least one of which is equipped with a spa tub and sauna.

Malcolm Forbes, a man known for his glittery lifestyle, jet-setting friends and down-low homosexual proclivities, acquired the walled and gated property in the early 1970s. It was in a serious state of disrepair having empty for five long years during which part of the roof fell in. The Forbes family hired architect Vernon Gibberd who spent four years rescuing and restoring the gorgeous Georgian-style manor house that was built in the late 17th century on Tudor foundations.

Over the years the wealthy Forbes family hosted a slew of dinners and parties attended by dignitaries (Margaret Thatcher, Ronald and Nancy Reagan), financiers (Warren Buffet) celebrities (Elizabeth Taylor) and various members of the royal family.

In addition of their desire to divest their portfolio of Old Battersea House, the Forbes family also plans to sell off a well-regarded collection of British artworks housed in Old Battersea House that includes works by Thomas Gainsborough and a collection of Royal memorabilia that includes a number of portraits of Royals and a pair of Queen Victoria's under panties.

Although Your Mama is far from an expert on the London property market, Old Battersea House seems to be in a slightly less than desirable location for someone with twenty million bucks to lay out for a 10 bedroom manor house. Although Battersea Park is cycling distance and the London Heliport is walking distance, the property is surrounded by apartment houses where perfectly ordinary one and two bedroom flats can be had for well under £300,000, around $500,000US. That's hardly chopped liver but it is not, Your Mama thinks we can all agree, even on the same real estate playing field as Old Battersea House.

listing photos: Savills


Anonymous said...

Incredibly tough property to sell. Battersea is just not an area you spend £12M on a Georgian house, in fact, there's no area South of the Thames where you'd spend £12M on a house. Perhaps Richmond or Wimbledon but that's about it. Over the past decade lots of developments have cropped up on the Thames in Battersea & it's normal for these apartments to go for millions, a penthouse at Albion Riverside is currently on the market for £12M ... but these types of buyers aren't the type looking for a house like the one featured here.

Shame it's not across the Thames in Chelsea. If it was on Cheyne Walk then it would be worth £40M+ ... location location location, that's what it's all about!

StPaulSnowman said...

Nothing trumps elegance and arches........nope, nothing. I would love to know what used to live in the beautifully symmetric chimney niches.

StPaulSnowman said...

I just caught a glimpse of Rose Buck peering out of the top floor dormer. Better than that Aniston woman any day.

Anonymous said...

It SEEMS like there is a lot of space immediately around the house, but I will defer to those who have been to London within the last 20 years.

Gosh, it sure is pretty. Forbes also had a devoon chateau in France.

What a guy.

Anonymous said...

There's obviously NO denying the mansion itself is BEAUTIFUL, but the location is anything but. Take a look at the below link to see how small the property itself is--and surrounded by apartments no less.

Anonymous said...

The Forbes family has been unloading property, art, and just about anything else they can turn into cold hard cash for quite some time. It would be interesting for Mama to take a look at their current real estate portfolio, or at least that portion of the portfolio that was inherited from Malcom.
Their media empire has not fared well in recent years. Also, Steve spent a lot of money in his quixotic attempt to become President. So I would think the sell off is a combination of cash "problems" and estate planning. There are quite a few heirs.

Anonymous said...

While Malcolm was reasonably attractive, I find his son unattractive both politically and appearance wise. I gather however that he is completely straight. I wonder if the money is drying up. I think it is contrary to Forbes policy to list him in its rich list.

Anonymous said...

As a former Forbes employee, I must say, they have been selling things for the last few years. First the Faberge egg collection, the ranch (I think in Colorado), the Forbes building, a big chunk of the Forbes, Inc (to Elevation Partners - owened by Bono). I think the castle in France was sold too. Got to say, I wonder what happens when they run out of things to sell.

I remember when the Faberge eggs were first sold, the staff at Forbes was told it would allow the family to pursue their various interests. I took that to mean that they could continue to live the lifestyle they had grown accustomed to.

The Devoted Classicist said...

I don't know about the specifics of the location, but it is a fabulous house that I hope finds an appreciative owner.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Fabulous Mamma.. I have actually had dinner in this glorious manor. It is in an "odd" location far from the center of my world when in London but amazingly charming. The dining room and table is out of a book... huge, wide, 24 plus persons. The Forbeses ring a bell for service to attend to them. There are signed pictures from Liz Taylor all over the place saying how much she loves Old Battersea House. Sad to see it go. Amazing parties (even in recent years) were had at this manor.

Anonymous said...

On Google Earth you can see how hemmed in by adjacent buildings it is. Google E. mis-identifies it, confusing it with an adjacent building. In addition, street view of it has a humongous truck parked smack in front so you can't really see the house.

lil' gay boy said...

Surrounded is a genteel understatement; those apartment blocks virtually loom over it, crowding it onto it's minuscule lot from every side but the water, where there's a busy street. But perhaps as either a teardown, broken up for flats, or even an apartment tower above might put it to good use.

I had the privilege to enjoy a cruise on the Forbes yacht, The Highlander, just a few short weeks after 9/11, on the Hudson (we were not permitted south of the Chelsea Piers).

Despite the subdued atmosphere, it was a glorious glimpse into a sadly no-longer-sustainable lifestyle for the family. I imagine it, with its signature green fixtures, have been sold off as well.

I did get a somewhat chaste (and discreet) peck on the cheek from Malcolm long ago (at a business function); he lived well, was at times mesmerizing in conversation, and certainly had presence.

StPaulSnowman said...

Perhaps one of Mama's wealthier chillun would consider dismantling and moving this gem to an empty arcadian lot stateside. They used to do that in Hearst's day, not only rooms but entire houses. Amazon prime might consider free two-day shipping if the sale price is right. It would give a new meaning to ........"some assembly required."

Anonymous said...

Lil Gay Boy: a teardown of a 17th century Grade II house with Tudor foundations, did you suggest? Uh, unlikely, and would be criminal, to my mind. And perhaps UK law.

StPaulSnowman said...

Anon 3:17, LGB is typically easy to get along with and always posts useful and witty information. Once in a while he becomes petulant, picky about his food, and talks about tearing everything down............and that is why Mama bought the first wooden spoon.