Famously the UK’s highest taxpayer, Phones 4u founder John Caudwell has turned two mega-mansions in Mayfair into one vast property that, with an estimated value of £250 million, is thought to be Britain’s most expensive private home.
Businessman and philanthropist Caudwell, 67, who sold his Phones 4u chain for just under £1.5 billion in 2006, bought Mayfair House for £87 million in 2012 and a few years later embarked on a total renovation.
Set in a Portland stone building, it’s actually two houses knocked into one, with a 120-capacity ballroom, 15 bedrooms and eight floors.
The super-home spans 43,000sq ft, which is roughly the average size of 55 London flats — and more than twice the size of the Royal Albert Hall.
The total overhaul of this huge home was the subject of a Channel 4 documentary earlier this year, in which Caudwell revealed how a vast basement now joins the two mansions together. There’s a “car stacker” that can take eight cars from street level to storage at the press of a button, plus an indoor pool with a volcanic lava installation.
Other features you might not expect to find in this historic London enclave include a Thai-themed dining room — Caudwell’s favourite food — with a river flowing through its centre filled with handpicked African Cichlid fish, all set beneath a faux cherry tree with pink blossoms, while it’s also revealed that 20,000 sheets of gold leaf were used throughout the opulent interiors.
At a total cost of £65 million, the renovation ran over time and £55 million over budget.
See inside: Britain’s most expensive home
Caudwell’s main residence is a 12-bedroom country house in Staffordshire and, along with other homes around the world, he also owns a 73-metre yacht which he bought at auction for the “bargain” price of £35 million.
While the Mayfair House is protected by hi-tech security and round-the-clock staff, Caudwell has said that he hasn’t owned any expensive jewellery or art since his Staffordshire home was burgled 10 years ago in a raid that saw the tycoon attacked with a metal bar.
Referring to the value of his latest project in a recent interview with The Times, Caudwell said: “The value in my house is the house itself, but I don’t keep any valuables. You can’t steal a marble staircase.”
Caudwell will not live in the property full time, it’s revealed in the show, as he intends to use it primarily for his charitable foundation, Caudwell Children, which supports disabled children and their families.
Caudwell will throw gala evenings, charity balls and hold meetings at the newly revamped property, “because I don’t need a house anything like that size”, he tells the Times.
Last year, the most expensive detached home on the market was a secluded Hollywood-style mansion near Hampstead Heath, which was listed for £40 million.
Britain’s Most Expensive Home: Building for a Billionaire aired on Channel 4 on Wednesday, February 5.