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The £200 million albatross: Who wants to buy Britain’s most expensive house?

Depending on your personal circumstances — and who are we to make comparisons, let alone pass judgement? — it may come as a source of relief that size doesn’t always matter. On the contrary, there is such a thing as too big. One of the most enormous houses in London — after Buckingham Palace and the Witanhurst estate in Highgate — might in fact be too large for even the most rapacious owners. A quadruple-sized mansion in Knightsbridge known as 2-8A Rutland Gate is back on the property market, having been empty and unloved since 2015. The asking price for this beleaguered yet gargantuan property? A cool £200 million, making it (for now at least) Britain’s most expensive house.

Nestled in embassy-land, next to Hyde Park, a short walk to Harrods — this should be the perfect pied-a-terre for the status-minded person of property. If your fortune was made in, say, the fire sale of state assets in a certain collapsing communist country, or in the Arabian Peninsula’s carbon-based fuels industry, purchasing 2-8A Rutland Gate should be a pretty straightforward deal. In addition to being the biggest — there are 45 rooms (the Connaught Hotel, around the corner, only has 120) — it’s a contender for the most expensive house in the city, which effectively ennobles the owner with a title: baron of ballerdom. But the funny thing is, nobody wants to live there now. It is not a residence so much as a very high-return investment, a fund in which to pour in your gains — ill-gotten or otherwise — via a complex series of offshore accounts and shell companies.

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