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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

Widow of late Saudi king wins London property battle

Judge rules in three-year dispute over multimillion-pound mansion owned by Saudi royal family

Bishops Avenue is close to Hampstead Heath with its enviable views of London. Getty
Bishops Avenue is close to Hampstead Heath with its enviable views of London. Getty

A High Court judge ruled in favour of a widow of late Saudi King Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on Tuesday in a three-year ownership battle over a 10-bedroom mansion on London’s "billionaires’ row".

The house on Bishops Avenue was signed over to Ms Al Jawharah bint Ibrahim Abdulaziz Al Ibrahim in 2011 by a Lichtenstein-based foundation set up to manage the foreign property portfolio of the late king. It was valued that year at £28 million (Dh134m), according to property records.

The transfer of Kenstead Hall was said to have been made based on instructions given by the late king before he died in 2005, according to court papers.

But the foundation challenged the transfer following a dispute between different branches of the Saudi royal family, said lawyers for the king’s widow. The UK court put a block on the sale of the property pending the outcome of the case.

The judge, Edward Cousins, struck out the case saying that the legal action brought by the Asturion Fondation had been dragged out for too long. He ordered the foundation to pay £100,000 in costs to the king’s widow.

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The property, Kenstead Hall, described as a mock Tudor mansion, is one of a number of Middle East-owned properties on Bishops Avenue, which runs from Hampstead Heath to East Finchley. It is considered one of the wealthiest streets in the world.

“It’s one of the best-known roads in the world and ranks alongside Rodeo Drive and Wall Street,” said Trevor Abrahmsohn, founder of property company Glentree International, who specialises in house sales on the road.

Although the owners on the street represent a roll-call of the world’s mega-rich and include business tycoons and royalty, a third of the properties are unoccupied and many are running to ruin, according to a newspaper investigation in 2014.

The fast-growth of property prices since the 1980's has made the properties highly-profitable assets despite the poor state of some.

Kenstead Hall was purchased by the Saudi royal family in the 1970's, according to Mr Abrahmsohn, who added the property was in need of renovation and restoration. It is still, however, estimated to have increased in value tenfold since it was reportedly bought for £2.7 million.

Property website Zoopla said there had been 11 sales on the road in the past five years, at an average price of more than £8 million. Some of the houses are being converted into flats as part of redevelopment work in the area.

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