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Former Cyprus embassy sells for £25 million — with a little help from CGI

Yes, this image has been photoshopped (Wetherell/Casa E Progetti)
Yes, this image has been photoshopped (Wetherell/Casa E Progetti)

The Royal Family might be in hot water for digitally manipulating official images, but for estate agents Wetherell some CGI magic was necessary to seal the deal on an exclusive Mayfair property sale.

The former Cyprus Embassy on Park Street has been sold to a billionaire from the Middle East for £25 million.

Despite the prestigious address and a lavish refurbishment, Wetherell was concerned that the property might fail to attract attention as it was being sold unfurnished.

Buyers in the market for something over £15 million, said the agents, prefer to view homes that are fully dressed and interior designed to help visualise what it would be like to live there.

The six-storey mansion was built as a private residence in 1913 (Wetherell/Casa E Progetti)
The six-storey mansion was built as a private residence in 1913 (Wetherell/Casa E Progetti)

The solution they alighted on was to commission the design studio Casa E Progetti, which specialises in virtual staging.

Casa E Progetti took the photos of the empty rooms of the Park Street mansion and edited them to add computer generated imagery of furniture and fittings — including what appear to be a series of paintings by the artist Tamara de Lempicka, whose work sells for millions of pounds.

Wetherell said the virtual dressing was key in the process of marketing and selling the £25 million house, and that the buyer was attracted by the fact the historic building had been recently refurbished and modernised.

Casa E Progetti added CGI elements such as Art Deco portraits by Tamara de Lempicka (Wetherell/Casa E Progetti)
Casa E Progetti added CGI elements such as Art Deco portraits by Tamara de Lempicka (Wetherell/Casa E Progetti)

The Edwardian mansion on Park Street was built in 1913 by architects Wimperis and Simpson, who also designed Fortnum and Masons.

Due to the outbreak of World War One, the fit out of the six floor mansion was delayed until 1925, when it was bought by the British tobacco tycoon Sir Louis Bernhard Baron.

Baron died in 1934, and his widow Elsie sold the house in 1959 to the government of Cyprus, who used it as the embassy for the Cyprus High Commission until it moved to new premises on St James’s Square.

The CGI alterations were made to help the buyer visualise what the empty rooms would look like furnished (Wetherell/Casa E Progetti)
The CGI alterations were made to help the buyer visualise what the empty rooms would look like furnished (Wetherell/Casa E Progetti)

In its latest incarnation, the house has a reception hall and four large reception rooms occupying the ground and first floor. The principal bedroom occupies the entire second floor, with the rest of the bedroom suites on the above storeys.

A professional chef’s kitchen is located on the lower ground floor, along with storage vaults, a wine cellar, and a flat for staff with it’s own kitchen and living room.“With its beautiful reception rooms, passenger lift, access to the Green Street gardens and spacious bedroom suites this house provided the perfect choice for a discerning family who wanted a London base in Mayfair,” said Robert Dawson, sales director at Wetherall.

The chef’s kitchen has the kind of set up you would find in a professional catering business (Wetherell/Casa E Progetti)
The chef’s kitchen has the kind of set up you would find in a professional catering business (Wetherell/Casa E Progetti)

Peter Wetherell, founder of Wetherell added that “a series of houses and mansions have been sold in Mayfair over the last few months purchased by families from the Middle East and India.”

The biggest residential sale in London was of another Mayfair property, which was bought by the Indian billionaire Adar Poonawalla for £138 million.

Overseas buyers make up a significant portion of investors in London’s prime property market. So it caused much consternation when Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced in last week’s budget that he would reduce the number of years that wealthy non-doms could live in the UK before paying tax on all their assets from 15 to four years.

“Four years is hardly anytime at all, especially as other countries still offer far more generous schemes,” said James Ward, head of private client at top law firm Kingsley Napley.

“So do not be at all surprised if we see even more non-doms leaving the UK and fewer wealthy individuals choosing the UK as a destination of choice.”