Selling London's most expensive penthouse in one of the city's most-exclusive developments is no easy feat, but owner Nick Candy is confident he can wrap up the deal by the end of the year.
The billionaire property mogul, 48, put his two-storey, five-bedroom home in the ultra-lavish apartment block One Hyde Park in Knightsbridge on the market earlier this month. It has since attracted interest from across the globe, including the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
But with the world still gripped by the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Candy faces the challenge of getting interested buyers to actually view the luxury apartment.
“We've had interest from three places: China, the Gulf, and America. In the Gulf, the interest is coming from the UAE and Saudi Arabia,” Mr Candy told The National.
With potential Gulf-based buyers finding it difficult to view the property due to the Covid travel restrictions, the property mogul said his team have sent videos or are
hosting virtual tours while others are booking an appointment for June or July, when the UK's Covid-19 restrictions are expected to be fully lifted.
“Middle Eastern buyers have been buying huge parts of London for a very, very long time, whether they are from Kuwait, the UAE, Saudi or Qatar,” said Mr Candy.
“They send their children here to be educated, they send them to Sandhurst. This is a place they feel very comfortable with, they've been very welcome here and they like to have real estate assets in London. It's as good as having your money in the bank.”
To help attract the kind of buyer that can afford the hefty asking price of £175 million ($243.7m) for the 1,670-square-metre (18,000 square feet) apartment, Mr Candy said he will accept Bitcoin or Ethereum as payment.
“I will probably hedge it to make sure that I don't lose money because cryptocurrencies are volatile. The issue with crypto will be the KYC (know your customer compliance check) on the crypto. It may be that we take some in crypto and some in normal currency. I'm definitely not looking to lose money,” he said.
One Hyde Park, which achieved over £2 billion in sales from 86 apartments, was developed in 2011 by Mr Candy’s brother Christian’s CPC group. The lavish interiors were supplied by the Candy brothers’ Candy & Candy interior designer and development management company.
Mr Candy lived in the penthouse, apartment B.10.01, for five years with his wife, former Neighbours actress Holly Valance, and their two young daughters, before relocating a few years ago to another luxurious home in London’s Chelsea.
He left the apartment empty despite receiving lucrative rental offers from a series of elite prospective tenants, including A-list movie stars.
“I had various wealthy people that wanted to rent it. I could sell it as a rental investment because, it's like parking money in a bank and you’ve got a decent yield,” he said.
Mr Candy said the price of his former home, which will be the most expensive apartment ever sold in the UK if the price is met, is competitive.
The luxury home offers sweeping views over Hyde Park, heated underground parking spaces for four cars, a media room, two wraparound outdoor terraces, as well as access to a spa, gymnasium and the concierge services of the Mandarin Oriental hotel next door.
“The apartment gives you everything, everything you could ever expect in a seven star hotel and more,” Mr Candy said.
Anyone buying his pad will be rubbing shoulders with the who’s who of the world.
“Whether it's royal families, the biggest businessman, celebrities, they're all in the building,” Mr Candy said.
The property mogul said he remortgaged the property in April last year, switching from Credit Suisse to Bank of Singapore, which valued the property at £160 million. He then raised that price to £175m because the deal includes all the lavish fixtures and fittings seen in the pictures.
While Mr Candy said London remains a big draw for international buyers because of its excellent legal system, he said safety is an issue due to mismanagement from Mayor Sadiq Khan.
Soaring crime rates will deter international investors from wanting to buy in the city, he said, one of the reasons he made a personal six-figure donation to Conservative Shaun Bailey’s campaign to be the next London mayor.
“Crime is out of control. It’s the wild west,” he said. “What's stopping international money coming to our cities, or stopping tourists or education is because people don't want to send their kids to a place which is dangerous. Of course you want to get your kids educated to the highest level possible to help their future but you also don't want to have them murdered on the streets either.”
Mr Candy said his concerns grew after his wife was chased down King’s Road in a potential moped robbery while pushing one of their children in a pram about two years ago.
“I’m watching my friends get mugged in broad daylight in Mayfair and Belgravia in Knightsbridge, in Chelsea – it's all over London,” he said.
“If you're from the UAE, the Gulf or any other place in the world, you want to invest in a place which is safe. We've got great rule of law in the UK but what we haven't got today is the safety in our city that we once had.”
The UAE’s low crime rate in comparison is one of the reasons Mr Candy plans to expand his business operations there.
The businessman regularly takes holidays in the Emirates with his family, and he has visited four times on business since the start of the year, with his favourite hotels to stay in including the One & Only Royal Mirage, the One & Only Palm Jumeirah and the Mandarin Oriental Jumeirah in Dubai.
“We’re looking at the UAE very carefully and looking at a number of opportunities. We don’t just do real estate, we do tech, biotech, sports and fashion," he said.
“I've got two young girls, my wife loves Dubai and Abu Dhabi and we've got good connections. One of the nicest things is that we feel completely safe."
The businessman would like to launch a real estate project in the UAE that "completely shifts the market and redefines luxury”.
While he did not elaborate any further on the proposal, he said: “We are making good progress, and you will be shocked.”
Other proposed Middle East ventures will target Saudi Arabia.
“Saudi is going to be a massive opportunity as HRH Mohammed bin Salman revolutionises the country and takes it into the future, whether it's with Neom, Amaala or any of the incredible projects he's got lined up, and we would love to be involved in those in due course," Mr Candy said. “We are talking with them – it’s in very early stages."
These projects will again involve his pledge to redefine high-end luxury.
“Everyone has tried to copy One Hyde Park since 2011. We set the benchmark of what luxury should look like. Most people try to cut costs but my father used to say to my brother and I that quality is remembered long after price is forgotten and that has stuck with me all my life," Mr Candy said.
"So build the very best and it will stand the test of time and you can charge more for it if you want to because it stands apart from its peers.”