£138m price agreed for Mayfair mansion in London's most expensive home sale of 2023

Adar Poonawalla is a billionnaire and the new owner of Aberconway House (ES)
Adar Poonawalla is a billionnaire and the new owner of Aberconway House (ES)

The biggest residential property sale of the year in London is understood to have been agreed just before the Christmas break.

Adar Poonawalla, an Indian billionaire and heir to a vaccine fortune, has reached a deal on Aberconway House in Mayfair for £138 million, according to a report in the Financial Times.

Poonawalla is the CEO of the Serum Institute of India, the company founded by his father Cyrus that is the world's largest producer of vaccines.

It will be second highest amount of money known to be paid for a London house ever, after 8 Rutland Gate.

The 20-room mega mansion sold for £210 million back in 2020 to Hui Ka Yan, founder of Chinese property company Evergrande.

The Poonawalla's had previously been renting Aberconway House for £50,000 a week before they bought it.

Ultra high net worth individuals have increasingly chosen to rent rather than buy in London's ultra prime neighbourhoods, but this £138 million deal in the centre of the capital bucks the trend.

Poonawalla and his wife Natasha move in A-list circles and are friends with Leonardo DiCaprio.

Natasha Poonawalla has been photographed at Wimbledon with actress and producer Priyanka Chopra. Chopra lives down the road in west London with her husband, Nick Jonas.

A record-breaking sale

Adar Poonawalla struck the deal for Aberconway House with Polish heiress Dominika Kulczyk, daughter of the late Jan Kulczyk, who was once the richest man in Poland.

The giga-prime sale will be the most expensive transaction on a home to be made in London this year.

Until this week the title had been held by Hanover Lodge in Regent's Park, which sold this summer for £113 million.

Purchased through an offshore company, the buyer is reported to be Ravi Ruia, an Indian billionaire and founder of an investment fund named Essare, while the home was previously linked to Russian property investor Andrey Goncharenko.

Built in the early 1920s in a neo-Georgian style for Henry McLaren, the 2nd Baron Aberconway, the Grade-II listed property sits between some of London's most exclusive streets.

In 1943 the property became the headquarters of British film producer Rank Organisation, which had the distribution rights to the Carry On series.

By the 1980s, Westminster Council had ordered Aberconway House to be returned to residential use.

It was listed for sale in 2003 for £25 million and again 2007 for £40 million, according to a contemporary report in the Times, and was at one time said to be rented to a Middle Eastern prince for £1.5 million a year.

Billionaires under pressure

The sale is anomaly in what has been a slow year for prime central London property.

Many super wealthy owners have had to slash millions off asking prices to try and tempt buyers as super rich overseas investors were put off by a combination of Brexit, tax rules and uncertainty around the next election.

The UK's crackdown on money laundering and the sanctioning of Russian elites following the invasion of Ukraine has also cooled the market.

The Holme, a 40-bedroom mega-mansion in Regent's Park, came on the market this year for £250 million – a price tag that would make it the most expensive home in London, if it sold.

However, Prince Abdullah bin Khalid bin Sultan al-Saud is yet to find a buyer.

Hui Ka Yan put 8 Rutland Gate back on the market for last year. His company, Evergrande, defaulted under $300 billion (£246 billion) in debts and is attempting to restructure to avoid liquidation.