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Israeli tycoon moves into record London mansion

LONDON – One of Israel’s wealthiest men has bought the most expensive new house in Britain, a home in north London complete with cinema and nightclub, costing 35 million pounds (S$99.4 million), reports said on Tuesday.

Billionaire Lev Leviev, who made his fortune in diamonds, plans to move in to the house in Hampstead with his wife Olga and two of their nine children, said London’s Evening Standard newspaper.

The 51-year-old has joined other wealthy foreigners setting up home in Britain, where they are exempt from paying tax on income earned abroad, added the Independent newspaper.

He is a friend of Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea Football Club, and is famous as the man who broke up a cartel controlled by diamond giant De Beers by buying mines in Russia, Angola and Namibia, the paper said.

Mr Leviev is worth 3.25 billion pounds, and gives 25 million pounds a year to charity, according to the Evening Standard, which printed pictures of the seven-bedroom house including an ornate pool with colonnades.

The Independent said that Mr Leviev, whose family arrived in Israel penniless from Uzbekistan in 1971, now has homes in Israel, Russia and the United States, and was classified until recently as Israel’s richest man.

The front door of his new London mansion is armour-plated, weighs half a tonne and cost 50,000 pounds, the paper said, citing a real estate source as saying the house represented a record for newly built property in Britain.

Mr Leviev’s family will make their home in a private road where the Beatles’ Ringo Star, the Bee Gees’ Maurice Gibb and British singing veteran Lulu have all had homes, it said.


Source: AFP (The Straits Times 9 Jan 08)

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