As student digs go, a Mayfair apartment that once hosted Jackie Onassis is about as far from undergraduate squalor as it is possible to imagine.

But a Saudi billionaire is believed to have set a world record by paying £18.6 million for a vast flat for his daughter to live in while she completes her course in London.

The extraordinary deal, which will give the fortunate student a choice of five bedrooms to sleep in, was put together in 24 hours last week by specialist Mayfair estate agent Peter Wetherell.

The identity of the buyer has not been disclosed but is understood to be one of the Middle East’s wealthiest businessmen.

Jeremy Gee, managing director of agency Beauchamp Estates, which was also involved in selling the property overlooking Grosvenor Square, said: “The £18.6 million sale of the former Onassis residence in Grosvenor Square in Mayfair shows that global high-net-worth buyers still see prime London luxury property as a good long-term investment.

“The deal is cloaked in secrecy but we understand that the apartment has sold to a Middle East buyer, a Saudi billionaire buying for his daughter.

“It is interesting that since Covid-19 all the ultra-prime deals have either been for houses or for full-floor apartments like this one or penthouses where buyers can carefully control access and do not have to share access to their homes with neighbours.”


The luxury apartment has five bedrooms and three reception rooms

The first-floor apartment has over 5,000 sq ft of living space, more than 70 times bigger than the 70 sq ft minimum allowed for a student bedroom.

Features not normally standard for university accommodation include a 60-foot balcony and south-facing terrace, an entrance hall, family kitchen, library, guest powder room and walk-in storage room.

There are also five bathrooms and three reception rooms with ceiling heights of more than 10ft.

The apartment, which first came on the market last summer priced at £25 million, was formerly the London pied-à-terre of Artemis Onassis, sister of Greek billionaire Aristotle, and her husband Theodore Garoufalidis, who was president of Olympic Airways.

It was frequently visited in the Sixties and Seventies by the former first lady, whose first husband President John F Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, as well as her sister, the socialite Princess Lee Radziwill.

According to journalist and Kennedy historian J Randy Taraborrelli, Jackie used the apartment — close to the then American embassy, to be close to her daughter Caroline Kennedy, who was studying in London at the time.

The Onassis family bought the apartment from Sir John Anderson, Winston Churchill’s wartime home secretary and chairman of the Royal Opera House, where he hosted stars such as Greek soprano ­Maria Callas — who became Aristotle Onassis’s lover.

Confirming the deal, Peter Wetherell, founder and chairman of agents Wetherell said: “The landmark sale of the ambassadorial 5,000 sqft Onassis residence at 47 Grosvenor Square, in a £18.6 million deal done in under 24 hours, shows the continuing appeal by global wealth for trophy London properties.

“Ultra-high-net-worth buyers from around the world are currently wanting to acquire trophy properties of this type in Mayfair which will soon be in short supply.

“This is due to Westminster City Council’s new planning brief, which will prohibit the building of new homes of over £2,155 sq ft. These planning changes mean that the pipeline supply of these type of large Ambassadorial residences will diminish over time.”

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