Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Updown Court Goes Down in a Blaze of Foreclosure



About 20 or 30 miles outside of London in the swank and semi-rural suburb of Windlesham, Surrey, sits the (in)famous Updown Court, one of the largest and most garish private residences in all of the United Kingdom. Updown Court, spec-built and on the market since at least 2006, was reportedly seized by the Irish government in a foreclosure proceeding after property developer Leslie Allen-Vercoe failed to keep up payments on the approximately £50,000,000 mortgage secured by the estate.

¡, niños, escándalo!

When the Irish economy swirled down the financial terlit last year the government took over control and ownership of the failed bank that lent Mister Allen-Vercoe tens of millions of pounds. That, puppies, is how it came to be that the Irish government now owns Updown Court, an extremely high-maintenance asset we're quite sure the Irish government is not keen on keeping in their property portfolio.

The self-made son of a model and a bricklayer, Mister Allen-Vercoe bought the 58-acre estate out of receivership in 2002 for around–we're told–£13,500,000. In order to facilitate the cost of the property purchase and the completion/construction of the resulting monumental mega-mansion Mister Allen-Vercoe reportedly took a hefty £40,000,000 mortgage from an Irish bank. The interest payments alone were many times reported to come to around £2,500,000 per year.

Most reports previous reports say that when the Mister Allen-Vercoe acquire the property there was an existing house from the 1940s that had been gutted by fire in 1987. However, one of the children claims that at the time of Mister Allen-Vercoe's 2002 purchase the property already included the shell of the monstrous mansion–designed by Scottsdale (AZ) architect John B. Scholz–that was commissioned by a previous owner/developer who went belly up before completing the colossal crib.

Mister Allen-Vercoe re-engaged the mcmansion specialist Mister Scholz to complete Updown Court, the result a tumescent mansion that stands four floors tall and measures in at more than 50,000 square feet. When the bloated and blinged-out Updown Court–described by Mister Allen-Vercoe as "neo-Californian," whatever that is–was completed in 2006 it was heaved and hoed on to the market with much publicity and a blistering asking price of £75,000,000. According to a few quick calculations on Your Mama's rickety currency conversion contraption that's comes to about 145,00,000 U.S. dollars at 2006 rates.




The palatial and–let's get real children–obscenely crass and decidedly pompous pile is entered through imposing gilt-trimmed wrought iron gates that swing open electronically to a marble driveway oft reported to have cost Mister Allen-Vercoe around £3,000,000 pounds.

A porte-cochere, held aloft by an army of classic but turgid Corinthian columns, signifies the entry where double oak doors lead into a cavernous airport terminal-sized entry and reception area that features a triple-height ceiling, a sweeping double staircase (plus an elevator), two walk-in cloak rooms, two powder poopers and three sitting rooms. Two smaller sitting rooms–one outfitted with a behemoth built-in bar–flank a voluminous central sitting room with towering arched windows and a scalloped balcony reportedly modeled after one in deceased fashion designer Gianni Versace's former house in Miami (FL).

The opulent hotel lobby-like entry/reception area is, in our humble and utterly meaningless opinion, so capacious it reeks of a desperate and perplexing need to smack guests and Chinese food deliverymen hard across the face with pecuniary audacity. Your Mama requires a nerve pill just to look at the pictures, hunnies, and we suggest you partake of the same before diving too deeply into the photos and floor plans for the extraordinary and extraordinarily cocky mansion.

The humongous house is divided into east and west wings. To the east, on the ground floor, a three room suite with half bathroom makes for snazzy and room home office. Behind the office suite the sprawling master suite encompasses a sitting room with fireplace and French doors to a rear terrace, separate bedroom with second fireplace, wee kitchenette, and his and her bathing and terliting facilities with towel storage room. Surprisingly stingy closet space is limited to just two not particularly large walk-ins in the bathroom(s) and a third smaller closet in the hallway that runs between the bedroom and bathrooms. A glass elevator descends directly from the master suite to an indoor swimming pool and spa designed for the exclusive and private use of the master and mistress of the mega-mansion.

The west wing on the ground floor includes more intimate but still gigantic semi-public rooms that include a library, paneled sitting room, banquet hall/dining room. The family's private quarters are, for the size of the house, quite modest and include a well-outfitted kitchen open to a circular breakfast room and an octagonal family room with built-in entertainment center. The family's casual rooms open to the piazza-like terraces that overlook the grounds. At the end of long corridor that runs like a spine through the center of the west wing a double set of doors open into a glass-walled air-lock space that opens into another sky-lit indoor swimming pool ringed with Corinthian columns and complete with circular spa, massage room, party-size sauna and male and female dressing rooms with bathing and terliting facilities.

The second floor contains 8 family bedroom suites, some with separate sitting rooms, most with fireplaces and all with walk-in closets, lavish marble bathrooms and access to one of the seven balconies. One more floor up a prairie-like landing separates two self-contained two-bedroom and 2.5 bathroom guest suites that share a rooftop terrace with infinity edged swimming pool and spa. Yes, puppies, there is indeed a third swimming pool on the fourth floor terrace at Updown Court.

In addition to the two indoor swimming pool areas, the rabbit-warren like basement area houses a dizzying array of sports and entertainment areas that include a horseshoe-shaped fitness room with adjacent male and female changing rooms and bathrooms, home cinema, wine cellar, two-lane bowling alley and a snooker room that overlooks a glassed-in squash court.

Extensive service areas are also contained in the basement and include a walk-in vault, communications/security room, laundry facilities, panic room, industrial catering kitchen with walk-in freezer, half a dozen storage rooms and a granite-floored underground garage with parking for at least seven cars. The grounds, mostly wooded but with acres of manicured lawns and gardens include wide terraces, a private pond, lighted tennis court, equestrian facilities and a yet another swimming pool.

The estate also includes a gatehouse with a couple of ground floor flexi-use rooms for security and/or staff use, a full kitchen with breakfast area, conservatory, two upstairs bedrooms that share a bathroom and two additional powder poopers on the ground floor.

Extensive staff accommodations are contained in a detached complex divided into three sections: One leg of the L-shaped complex encompasses a four car garage, giant storage room, laundry facilities with shower room, and an estate manager's office with en suite facility. The smaller of two staff cottages offers three bedrooms–each with private pooper, an eat-in kitchen and a sitting room tucked under the eaves on the second floor. The larger staff cottage, attached to the smaller one by a covered patio, contains six bedrooms–each with private bathroom, a kitchen that's open to a large large lounge/living/dining room and a second floor sitting area.

We spent some time with the floor plans (above) we had on file from an old Savills' listing for the property and by Your Mama's count, the mall-sized main mansion contains a total of 13 bedrooms, 14 full bathrooms, 8 powder poopers and 4 changing rooms with bathroom facilities.

Combined with the 11 bedrooms and 11 full and 2 half bathrooms contained in the gatehouse and staff complex, Updown Court includes a heart stopping grand total of 24 bedrooms, 25 full and 10 half bathrooms plus the four bathrooms in the changing rooms of the indoor swimming pools. That, mons pets, comes to (at least) 39 terlits on the property, a number large enough to require at least a pair of full-time minimum wage workers whose only responsibilities are to scrub and polish toilet bowls.

Although there were few interested parties–and none it seems willing to sign on the deed's dotted line–Mister Allen Vercoe held firm to his sky-high and obviously optimistic asking price (about $145,000,000). However, Updown Court was recently re-listed with a probably still too optimistic price tag of $123,000,000. Anyone want to guess what price the Irish government will eventually get for Updown Court when they finally unload the white elephant?

listing photos: Updown Court
floor plan: Savills

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

He was clearly aiming for the Russian/Arab/Eastern European market but those buyers want to own hideous properties on the Bishops Av IN London or the ones with more taste want to be in exclusive central London areas like Knightsbridge/Belgravia/Chelsea/Mayfair etc.. God only knows what the Irish Government will do with it, probably best to destroy it & sell some of the pieces & the land b/c as it stands I doubt it will ever sell.

angie said...

The architect for this mess, John B. Scholz, has the architectural equivalent of a driver's lead foot when it comes to home design. Even the pink pillared room featured on the home page of his web site looks wearily cumbersome. The description says, "Our award-winning luxury home plans have become famous around the world..". Uh-huh, clearly.

As for guessing it's eventual sales price, Candy spelling's The Manor has roughly the same square footage, had roughly the same asking price, and went for $85 Million American. This place makes even The Manor look highly desirable by comparison, so I'm stumped. Whatever "neo-Californian" means, it's no compliment for California.

Anonymous said...

This is one of the tackiest pieces of high end real estate ever built. There are way too many columns in the foyer/ great room area, way too much stone and marble everywhere, the layout is way too chopped up (I know it is common for this in English homes, but should not be the case in a $100 mil plus new construction home) and the pool on the roof is a tad bit much for any house, let alone one that isnt oceanfront. And neither of the indoor pools is a lap pool, what a waste. If you're going to put two indoor pools anywhere at least one of them should be functional for exercise purposes. There isn't even anything English about this house, it looks like any other tacky faux mansion in LA. Why would someone looking to build a $150 million dollar house outside London hire an architect from Scottsdale. Did they even know where Scottsdale was?! This house deserves foreclosure, and I doubt this house will even sell out of foreclosure. I would be real surprised if it sold for more than $50 million, and it will be just for the land.

The Down East Dilettante said...

It is impossible to completely take in how completely bad this place is. Just baaaad. And not in the good way

lil' gay boy said...

Possibly "architectural" history's most expensive turd; since it's unveiling I've always thought it should be in Jersey ––– New Jersey.

Now before any of my neighbors to the west start to wail in protest, yes I know there are lovely spots in the Garden State (Bound Brook being a favorite), but I think we can agree that labeling Mr. Scholz's styling on this as "Jerseylicious" would enable even the most unconnected Luddite amongst us to accurately envision (sight unseen) this four story high pile of excrement ––– perhaps even the blind.

One thing I've always wondered, however; since our family company was purchased by a marble company, it's always stuck in my head that the surface temperature of marble is supposedly 11 degrees cooler than the surrounding air (perfect for pastry); so why on earth would anyone install a marble driveway? Even if it is heated, as I understand it is, it seems that in the long run it would be more economical to just leave a trail of ambulance chasers' business cards to the front door...

Well the Xanax has finally kicked; time to peruse the "floor plans".

Anonymous said...

My house is the Scholz Ballentrae design and I think it looks great and several of my friends have the Scholz House of the 90's design which is quite beautiful.

I personally don't think UpDown looks bad at all and I was never sure why the Arabs, Indians or Russians never took to it considering some of the hideous crap they buy.

I like the home and the level of detail is fantastic and if I had the means I would buy it. It is definitely better than that pile of crap The Manor.

Anonymous said...

Scholz has the over used 90s new money look at me designs scattered all over america that you could pick up in the house sections of your local Ralph's Grocery Store. First time a hillbilly with some cents turned up with some clams they built these 90s architectural nightmares. Sadly there are a few of these around our fine nation. Now the tragedy has unfolded in England (and a quick Rolls ride from Windsor Castle and Elton's fabulous pile of bricks).

Only tacky will buy this. Class buys architecturally significant properties or newer properties of for example "georgian" or true period flair.. not 90s porn palaces from Vegas.

It will be a tear down or turned into a rehab facility. Poor rehab patients will have to be medicated each day just to wake up to this nightmare of swirles and tackiness! Oh la la!

lil' gay boy said...

OK, I've reviewed the plans, taken a Compazine, and despite being called out for a previous reference, cannot help but rechristen Updown Court as Upchuck Manor.

Just had an Absolutely Fabulous flashback ––– the Christmas special when Bubble returns from shopping & Eddie says, "Look at her; one trip down Bond Street and she's a duchess."

And the as-usual outrageously attired Bubble saying, "New wealth ––– so very common."

They could have filmed that here...

Mr Tibbs said...

even 10 miles outside of london is to far,

I say 5MM tops and the Europe govt will once again have to bail out another one of their countries

btw why is the euro worth more than the almighty dollar ? that alone has cause chaos in our world,

:)

Anonymous said...

LMAO at people that live in 900sq.ft NYC crap pile apartments and 2,000 sq.ft bungalows talking smack about Scholz designed mansions.

You people crack me up.

StPaulSnowman said...

This is the best house news I have heard in years. As an inveterate anglophile who spent early school years in London, I just couldn't get my mind around the hideosity that is Updown Court. In a country of the most magnificent homes on the planet, it is hard to imagine that passionate stately homes lovers have not dropped a bomb on this aesthetic carbuncle. I will look forward to the ITV reality show about "The World's Most Expensive Teardown", which is sure to follow. Architecture buffs everywhere should raise a G&T, Pimms or other favorite libation.

Anonymous said...

its been listed for offers over £70 million

MarkyMark said...

It really does look like some sort of demented Euro Disney adult theme-park. I wonder if it could be turned into an assisted-living retirement center for wealthy UK widows? It has the elevators...

Its also located quite close to Bagshot Park, home of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.

Gertrude Jekyll & Edwin Lutyens said...

There is barely enough room in our graves to roll over.

Anonymous said...

LMAO at people who talk about this Scholz guy like he's Robert AM Stern or Rosario Candela. While this guy seems perfectly talented and his website has a few, and I mean a few really nice homes, most of them look like glorified McMansions, like this one. Your attitude clearly shows that you too live in a crap pile home, one that is likely worth less than a 900 sq ft apartment in a good area of NYC.I mean really I can think of half a dozen better architects in the US, and you're trying to tell me this Scholz guy was the right one to design a $150 million in the UK. If you aren't Mr. Scholz or a friend or family member of his you must just have really bad taste. Why don't you get on google and look up homes that have sold for more than $50 million and you will see that few to none of them look like this. Please pick up an issue of Architectural Digest or something.

Anonymous said...

Lil' gay boy, as a resident of one of the very few classy, beautiful, and pleasant places of New Jersey I disagree slightly. While this home would fit in perfectly in many of Jersey's developments of "faux chateuxs" even homes in NJ that shoot for the highest price point. The $52 million dollar Stone mansion in Alpine, NJ is an example of an ultra-expensive home that has a clearly defined architectural style, quality finishes, nice layout and none of the ridiculous unnece amenities of this home (I.e. 4 swimming pools) The town of Rumson, NJ where I am from has many turn of the Century estates designed by the likes of Stanford White, and newer estates designed by the likes of Shope Reno Wharton. I suggest you check it out it out on the interweb, you'd be shocked that such a nice place even exists in Jersey. But yes you are right this home is very "Jerseylicious" in almost every sense, except even in NJ this home would have a layout that flows even somewhat gracefully for entertaining.

Anonymous said...

5:14, you can talk about all these famous architects and what not, you have read all the books and so on, but the fact is you can't afford diddly squat that they have built.
So keep waxing on poetically about them.

I don't care how much a NYC apartment is worth, it is still a 900 sq.ft crap box that has to share walls with other people and has no privacy and when you open the windows you get the stench and all the noise of the city.

I will kick back in my 10,000 sq.ft total home with 4 floors, 2 acres of land,granite everywhere, 2 kitchens, a sauna and steam shower,theater, 2 ponds with fountains and a waterfall and peace and quiet and serenity.

You keep putting books of famous architects on your coffee table and trying to impress your friends at dinner parties about your knowledge of famous homes and architects.

Anonymous said...

is 5:52 serious?

mama, you're far to gracious with this insipid pile. is anyone else curious what the old place looked like?

Native New Yorker said...

anon 5:52; I was just wondering what books you have on your coffee table in the ten thousand sq ft energy vortex you call home. Unless, of course, the fountains are gravity fed from the mountainous section of your two acre estate. I am guessing this ponderosa is in Jersy.

Anonymous said...

Is this banter between suburb neuve monied and city monied with different taste and styles? There is room for all types in this world..

But for the record this house has made me very sick.

midTN said...

I'm quite happy in my all paid for 1600 sq. ft. bi-level pile of bricks on 8.33 acres here in beeeyooteeful Tennessee...(FWIW ;o)

..."and my little dog too"
***


As to this pile.....I think some nice colored tiles would help brighten it up a bit.

Ya think?

midTN said...

I'm quite happy in my all paid for 1600 sq. ft. bi-level pile of bricks on 8.33 acres here in beeeyooteeful Tennessee...(FWIW ;o)

..."and my little dog too"
***


As to this pile.....I think some nice colored tiles would help brighten it up a bit.

Ya think?

Anonymous said...

Moody's just downgraded Irish government debt to junk. This may be an example.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the Irish Republician Army can use it for target practice?

Dame Crystal Chandelier said...

WHEN can I move in? I would love to descend that staircase like Miss O'Hara in a full length mink while sucking on an extra large vodkatini. And four pools to splash around in with Jesus the poolboy? BLISSSS :)

Anonymous said...

5:52, you know nothing about me and you couldn't be more wrong, I live in a very nice affluent community 40 min from NYC. I have a very nice high quality home I designed and built myself, it sits on 3.25 acres, has a pool, and small cabana with one bathroom and a wet bar. I am most definitley not as self conscious as you, so my home is only 6500 square feet with all the necessary amenities and none of the excessive ones that your home most likely has in an attempt to over-compensate for your low self esteem and lack of intelligence. And BTW for a living I invest in building luxury spec homes in the millions of dollars. So you're right I have read all the books, and I dont use them to impress my guests, I impress my guests with the very nice, very exclusive custom homes I build. For someone who claims to know a whole lot about real estate and houses you should of course know that it is all about location, location, location. And NYC happens to be one of the best locations for real estate on the planet. Where is your so called 10,000 square foot house? The great plains, deep south, or the middle of the woods in Vermont? Cause the only way someone as ignorant as you would build home of that size would be if you bought a $300,000 plot of land (if that) in the boonies somewhere
just to upstage all of the other people in the area. There's not anything wrong with living in places like this, but not simply biggest house on the block and if you're tryng to impress us with "granite" myself and everyone else who reads this blog knows that for the past 15 years K Hovnanian, Toll Brothers, etc. have been putting granite in their suburban McMansions for a thousand bucks extra. I use large custom cut marble slabs for the counters, vanities etc. I have been in several homes in the $20-30 million range in this country and others. This architect is simply not the right one for this job, and I have been in a home he designed. This home is tacky and disgusting, just like yours probably is. And BTW I don't feel the need to impress my guests the way you do, my guests and friends are there because they like me and enjoy being around me. I don't impress them with books I impress them with the real thing, my work that I take pride in. This home will not sell for anywhere near its asking price no matter what you think of it. And stop trying to impress me with your stupid ponds and fountains, if they weren't there naturally than the chance is their real tacky, just like this home.

Sincerly,

5:52

Anonymous said...

As of Monday morning it has been relisted with an asking price of £53 million ($84.5m)... even with ALL the luck of the Irish, I don't see them getting £10m for this horrorshow.

http://www.englishroseproperties.com/Property-Details/509/

JoeTheMiddleYears said...

This house should stand forever as a testament to early 21st century hubris. A mind-boggling display of bad choices - ascetically and financially.

Ghandi-Ji said...

Yes this house would be a very inappropriate choice for an ascetic.....or an aesthete. If it is to stand forever, at least put a visual screen of trees around it.

Anonymous said...

3:08 if you are a spec builder, you don't live in any of your homes except for a brief period of time until you can sell them.
You are leveraged just like a car dealer with his inventory.
My houses are paid for, while yours if you don't move them, you end up like this guy, broke and foreclosed upon.

You claim to live in a 6,500 sq.ft home and then tell someone that they have low self esteem for living in 10,000? Are you really that much a simpleton? Can you not even see the hypocrisy of your statement?
And you supposedly build large homes for your clients, so is this how you view your clients? You have no regard for them even though they are putting food on your table?

Almost every builder I have ever met in my life has been a lowlife thief and scumbag and you certainly seem to be no exception.

Your lack of education also shines through, paragraphs and spacing are your friends.

Anonymous said...

Ok, Dearest Mamma... Let the children stop the fighting! 900Sqft to 10,000 at least we all have homes and internet connection to read this blog that is full of fabulosity!

Some make cash by starting up businesses, some make cash by being "developers" Cash is Cash... just keep it Classy with a C people!

gurlplz said...

This garbage heap makes Suzanne and Candy's piles look like architectural masterpieces.

Anonymous said...

10 points to lil' gay boy for an Ab Fab reference!

Lady J

Steve Mawson said...

I do agree, perfect REHAB pile for the many famous loonies and losers. Where to start with our exclusive guest list ? Well, there's that ring stealing jail bird what's her name loser, then the other baby popping fanny flashing singing loser, the Charlie I am wonderman loser, that sad & bony bombed out Amy winebag screecher loser, as a special invited guest we should make sure Winona shoplifting loser is present, throw in a few KarDOHshian losers (they will certainly fall from grace so need a forward reservation), about half of Oprah's guest list too, Keifer haveanotherdrink loser, Heather leg-loser, OJ can pop in as can Arnie as they both earned the tag too. How many bedrooms more left to fill ? John Cleese can run it and HBO can do a mini-series on it all called Keeping Up With the Looney Towers. Might pay the Irish govt something. Else I'll give em 50p.

Steve Mawson said...

As for architectural style, I fail to understand why with all that money, this Scholz putz couldn't have come up with a design that was architecturally harmonious, balanced and appealing ! Or was it designed to look like it had been unceremoniously extended during a hundred years of different owners with equally bad taste ? There are some architects that truly deserve to be struck off, as are lawyers and doctors for failing to uphold ethical standards. This is one.

Anonymous said...

Mama,

Have you written anything about 25 Sutton, a Candela building overlooking midtown and the East River? Stavros Niarchos once owned a simplex there, which became a duplex, and later became a triplex, now owned by his ex-wife, Charlotte Ford. Anna Murdock also owned there. An interesting building.

Rebecca said...

The owner let a journalist in for a tour and the writer pointed out that you could hear traffic from nearby roads while inside the house. The owner didn't seem to consider this important, and didn't think that a buyer would either.

There is "right" and "not right", when it comes to some things. And there are people who know the difference and those who never will...and you can't explain it to them.

hippie canyon said...

Oh how I miss lil'gay boy. So glad to have earned internet privileges here at "the center." I could just f'in cry.

German Kitchen said...

Thank you so much for the wonderful review!
Kitchen Design Surrey

Steve Mawson said...

Seems like a room has become available, as Amy winebag screecher loser won't be needing the space. Takers anyone ?

Anonymous said...

TEAR IT DOWN (AND GET THIS IDIOT OUT OF THE ARCHITECTURE BUSINESS....i HAVE BEEN AN ARCHITECT FOR 35 YEARS AND I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING THIS HORRIBLE IN MY LIFE! HIS FATHER IS THE ONE TURNING OVER IN HIS GRAVE. A DISGRACE AND EMBARRASSMENT TO THE PROFESSION...

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Jamie Steelman said...

Your all so bitter and jealous of people that have more than you do.
It's a beautiful home, that fact that you can't afford it isn't an excuse to bad mouth it. You should be embarrassed that your so obviously
angry at anyone that has more than you do. And the real estalker is bitter about any home that is bigger than a tract house in the valley.