I often have to try and wheedle out off-market properties for my clients looking for something a bit special.These properties are not be in found in the usual places. Tesco’s/Haarts, in these cases, don’t deliver. The people in the know for these properties rarely have any property background, they tend to fall into the ‘I know a bloke’ category. As such, the leads can sometimes lean towards spurious.
A current client is looking for a classy central London pad, he has quite a bit of cash to splash, well, to be honest, a heck of a lot. I want the right address and I want it downright classy.
I received a well timed call from a contact whose profession is best described as ‘let me know if you want something.. anything’.
” ‘Ere Trace” is the opener .. ”got anyone who wants a stunning penthouse in that posh new place, Building X?” .. ”bloke needs to sell, so it’s a steal at £22m”
If there are two things assured to get my attention, they are ‘bloke needs to sell’ and anything in Building X. They just do not come up and certainly not at ‘deal’ pricing. The use of ‘stunning’ for the thousandth time this week, I ignore.
The viewing takes a bit of organising. Apparently there will be a few ‘representatives’ looking on behalf of VIP bosses and I can tag along. I am told I have to pretend I am a secretary-my contact feels this brings me respectability.
I meet my client in building X. ‘Swish’, doesn’t do it justice. The concierges are Armani clad, the water feature atrium won a prize at Chelsea and a Man United footballer wandered past and smiled. The building is all I expected and if the price is what they say, I am convinced my client will jump at it. The day is going well.
We sit and wait for the contact .. and wait. Calls are made, seems we are awaiting third contact flying in with the keys. Eventually two blacked-out Mercs. glide to a stop outside. Four burly men in shades pour themselves out. One at least has a suspicious bulge under his armpit. Their rubber-soled shoes more for quick getaways than fashion I suspect.
Introductions made, only first names of course, then ‘Follow me’, says the lead ‘heavy’ and we leave Building X and cross the road. We head towards a manky Mansion block. A steel gate covers the entrance courtyard and after a bit of railing rattling and bell ringing, we gain access to the central courtyard. We brush past the skips, and up the steps into the chip papered ‘common areas’. In relation to expectations, never has that description been more apt.
The three man lift was not designed for me and two hairy mammoths but we ascend directly into the penthouse.
Much kerfuffle as we are made to remove shoes and place blue plastic bags on our feet. Those rubber soles not much use now I think as the heavies grunt & winge. At least one has odd socks.
I am struck by how tall the windows are and how high the ceilings are. Hang on, something’s not right. The ceiling is glossy black lacquered panels – the windows are reflected to double size. The ceilings are low- creative interior design, hmm.
Colour scheme discussions will be short, the floor is black. The curtains are black. The dining table is black. The soft furnishings, umm, black. Accents of ‘colour’ are restricted to silver curtains and Swarovski knobs.
This is a big, big place. The dining table will seat 30. The bar area with Swarovski inset into the granite has a dozen ostrich skin bar stools. The cinema room is, how can I put it, a cinema.
We all know about dressing homes for sale but this one takes it to the next level. Aside from the Tom Ford coffee table book (black), the Christies Impressionist Auction catalogue and the biggest piece of Lalique I have ever seen, pride of place is given over to a Grand Piano. Slightly worn around the edges it sits a little incongruously in this shiny, sparkling, perfect environment.Then I spot the provenance discreetly engraved on a brass plate ..’owned by Elton John’
God, I’m looking forward to the Master bedroom. It delivers. An oasis of white and the carpet as tested by toes through my plastic bags, is silk. The bedspread is white.. mink. Now, I am used to seeing tea trays on beds with cup, saucer and plastic flower, this had something a little different. Laid out across the bed, La Perla bra, G string and white stockings. Size zero by rough estimate. I have to confess, a titter did come out and it was audible. I was shot a glance my lead Heavy, which put me firmly back into my secretarial box.
I rattle through the rest of the place including the six bedrooms. SIX bedrooms? ‘Who wants six bedrooms and one reception room?’. I whisper to my contact. A man of the world, he looks at me knowingly and just shakes his head.
We all gather back at the bar and the inevitable ‘Whatcha think?’ question is asked by the key holder. A shiny-suited chap for whom ‘Man at C & A’ would be a sartorial compliment.
‘Bloody fantastic’ says one of the Heavies.
‘Lovely’ I say.
It’s not. It’s vile. Completely vile. I cannot imagine who would want it. Well, maybe I can.
The chap with the odd socks is in the corner on his mobile, it sparkles. Clearly a Selfridges Wonder Room purchase.
‘Hey, John’, he says. ‘How long will it take you to get ‘ere from Cobham?’
Authors disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any real person, any real property, or any real taste is wholly coincidental.