For a while it said to be Britain's most expensive house when in 2004 it sold for £57 million but these days you'd need £150m to buy such a large and lavish home a stone's throw from Kensington Palace
Numbers 18 and 19 Kensington Palace Gardens might sound like two addresses, but since the late 1990s they have been just one after the former Egyptian Embassy and part of the Russian Embassy were united into a single, private home.
Kensington Palace Gardens, the wide and embassy-heavy avenue running down to Kensington Palace, is London’s most famous road according to agent Knight Frank and 18-19 is its most celebrated - an 18-bedroom, three floor, 1846-built trophy house. This is mainly because this vast property has been in the headlines in recent years as two of the world’s most famous billionaires moved in... and out.
The property was bought in 1997 by obscure academic and property developer David Khalili who spent four years and £20m joining the two addresses together before selling the property on to Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone in 2001 for £50m.
Ecclestone had it for three years but his famously feisty wife Slavica took a dislike to its marbled halls and walls and in 2004 Ecclestone sold it on, this time to Indian steel billionaire Lackshmi Mittal, who was quickest to the front door with an offer – of £57 million.
In December 2004 Mittal lodged a planning application to remodel the property at considerable expense, removing mirrored panelling, toilets, several staircases and a skylight.
And it’s no wonder the property has been dubbed the ‘Taj Mittal’. As well as using stone from the same quarry used to extract material for the Taj Mahal in India, its swimming pool has gem-encrusted pillars, there are his and hers studies, the drive is heated and the garage accommodates 20 cars.
By Peter Swain, 23 March 2011