Vivan Bairstow of Begbies Traynor was appointed administrative receiver to Updown in September last year. But although Bairstow was appointed principally to the house, in Windlesham, Surrey, the case is not a Law of Property Act receivership, which is what normally occurs when a building society or bank appoints a receiver as a result of a commercial mortgage.
Bairstow is technically receiver to the freeholder of Updown, Heatherside Property Holdings Ltd which is registered in the British Virgin Islands.
The unfinished mansion, complete with mosaic tiled floors and gold leaf paint, is being sold for £15m – the estimated value of the property when completed is £70m.
The company’s other assets include about £100,000 of unclaimed VAT.
Although the mansion is being sold for a fraction of its value, Bairstow is confident the proceeds from the sale will satisfy the company’s creditors.
Bairstow said: ‘This has been one of the most challenging receiverships I have had.’ He added that one of its most unusual aspects is that the receivership is not a company that can be traded. He hired estate agents FPD Savills and Knight Frank to help sell the property which is one of the largest most expensive new buildings in Europe. When he was appointed, Bairstow had to take out a bank loan to make the property into ‘a completed weatherproofed shell’. He also hired former SAS troopers to guard the property.
Updown has been surrounded by controversy. Four men were arrested last summer following a raid on the house by Customs & Excise. Customs also took out a restraining order on the property.
There has been speculation as to who is to buy this bargain palace with overseas royalty, pop idols and film stars all being named as possible buyers.
Bairstow said he had ‘serious expressions of interest’ and has given the parties until 10 July to make formal offers.
The property, which has five swimming pools, underground parking for at least eight limousines, a bowling alley and a cinema as well as over 20 bedrooms, has been one of the most unusual appointments in insolvency recent history.
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