It's been more than two years since the London blockbuster building One Hyde Park (above) opened, and the reaction from ultra-rich buyers has been historic, with sales totaling $2.7B, yes, billion. Until now, just who plunked down those many millions for a modern flat in prime Knightsbridge has been largely a mystery—save for the legendary $223M purchase by Ukrainian steel baron Rinat Akhmetov. In its April issue, Vanity Fair cast a light on the building, its developers, and the culture of high-end London real estate, uncovering some unsettling, but not terribly surprising, tidbits. Here are 10 of the most outrageous morsels:
10. Even investment bankers are offended by the excess on display at OHP. One going so far as to declare: "One Hyde Park is a symbol of the times, a symbol of the disconnect. There is almost a sense of 'the Martians have landed.' Who are they? Where are they from? What are they doing?"
9. So many of the building's buyers are foreign that the building is almost entirely dark at night. "Not just a bit dark—darker, say, than the surrounding buildings—but black dark," wrote John Arlidge of The Sunday Times.
8. The great majority of buyers have their identities shielded behind limited liability corporations, 59 of which are headquartered in "well-known offshore tax havens, such as the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Liechtenstein, and the Isle of Man."
7. Developers Christian and Nick Candy (AKA the Candy brothers or Candy & Candy) are now billionaires, "started out with a $9,300 loan from their grandmother," in 1995.
6. By 2001, the Candy Brothers had moved up in the world, hawking a $6.2M London apartment to security-obsessed Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky. The flat was equipped with "bullet-proof CCTV cameras, a fingerprint entry system that can remember 100 fingerprints [...] laser-beam alarms, and smoke bombs."
5. Thanks to London's strict landmark laws, a new breed of hyper-rich have turned to excavating to make more space. According to VF, "Stroll through Knightsbridge today (or check Google Street View) and you will see so many conveyor belts bringing up soil from under houses that you can be forgiven for thinking that a new mining boom is under way."
4. According to society writer Peter York, at One Hyde Park, "the vibe is junior Arab dictator."
3. A professor owns a couple of the apartments, but this project wasn't designed with an academic's salary in mind. "Professor Wong Wen Young" is better known as Winston Young, an heir to a multibillion-dollar Taiwanese plastics fortune. His two apartments were purchased for a combined $43.7M.
2. One buyer, who spent a combined $123M on five apartments, is believed to be Nigerian oil billionaire Folorunsho Alakija. Alakija was formerly "one of the [Nigerian] First Lady's favorite dress designers," and Alakija's stake in [the oil fields] was "a reward to a loyal friend." Those petroleum rights are now worth around $3.3B.
1. The very best apartment at One Hyde Park is owned by the Candy brothers' Qatari investment partner, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani. It's a "triplex on Floors 11, 12, and 13 of Tower C" and measures approximately 27,000 square feet—that would be worth upwards of $300M at the rate Akhmetov paid.
· A Tale of Two Londons [Vanity Fair]
· Tour One Hyde Park, Home to London's Most Expensive Flat [Curbed National]