A London penthouse that was formerly the headquarters of British spies and featured in the yet-to-be-released James Bond flick No Time to Die is up for sale. So is another penthouse that provided the backdrop for The Theory of Everything.
Blue Plaque Whitehall Court was part of the MI6 intelligence service until the end of the first world war. The living spaces in the eaves of the building still retain a unique network of reinforced beams and hardened flooring, installed by the Secret Services during the first world war.
Its Russian owner is seeking £5.5 million (US$7.2 million) for the 4,144-sq ft three-room penthouse on the top three floors of the former government property, with a monthly maintenance cost of £1,200, according to Beauchamp Estates, which is marketing the property.
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“Who doesn’t love the excitement and glamour of the Secret Services, spies, gadgets and James Bond?” said Gary Hersham, founding director of Beauchamp. The unique penthouse, located in the eaves of the building, “helps to shine a spotlight on the thrilling history of the Secret Service and the 007-style agents,” he added.
The London-based vendor has owned the property for more than 10 years, using the penthouse as his Whitehall pied-à-terre, according to Paul Finch, a director at Beauchamp. Potential Asian buyers, notably from Hong Kong, mainland China, Indonesia and Malaysia are showing interest in owning a piece of the history, he said.
The listings of the two penthouses come at a time when sales of super-prime properties, those above US$10 million, slumped in the first half amid the coronavirus pandemic. There were 281 such transactions in 12 key markets recorded in the January to June period, compared to 594 a year earlier, according to Knight Frank.
London recorded only one-third of its volume from last year, though the average deal value more than doubled to US$38 million, it added. Hong Kong businessman Cheung Chung Kiu splashed £210 million in January on the 45-room Knightsbridge mansion, breaking city’s records.
The Whitehall Court has a cameo role in the new James Bond movie, with footage of actor Daniel Craig parking the famous silver Aston Martin outside the building and looking up at the facade before walking over to the adjacent Defence Ministry.
A blue plaque in the name of Sir Mansfield Smith-Cumming, the inspiration behind “M” in Bond films, was unveiled in March 2015. Well-known past residents have included William Gladstone, Lord Kitchener, Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich of Russia and George Bernard Shaw.
About 5.5km away on Hortensia Road sits the Sloane Building, whose former classrooms were featured in The Theory of Everything, a movie about the life of Stephen Hawking, the late physicist-author played by Eddie Redmayne.
The 6,693 sq ft penthouse is on the market with an £18.5 million price tag. The Sloane Building, which has been converted into 18 apartment units starting from £3m, and its ties to the Oscar-winning film “is certainly a point of interest when talking to [potential] buyers,” said Richard Osborne-Young, a director at Savills, which is marketing the sale.
The Grade II listed Sloane Building was built in 1908, an example of the Edwardian architecture of Thomas J. Bailey. It was used as a hospital during the first world war and later as an adult education college. When it fell vacant in 2011, the classrooms were used as a setting for the film.
“The high ceilings and period detail from its life as a former school, and what made it perfect as a backdrop in the film, is also what appeals to buyers at this level,” Osbourne-Young said. “They are looking for a prime London home with character and history and The Sloane Building ticks all those boxes.”
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