The London rich list
Here are the wealthiest landlords in the city in 2023
Morning — London's super-rich like to keep things private. Unfortunately for them, there's new data out revealing just how minted they are. The Spy’s picked out the wealthiest players in the capital after your Sunday briefing below.
Plus: Sadiq Khan opens up about trauma, while a toxic fight over Primrose Hill gets some resolution.
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What we’ve spied
🎤 Sadiq Khan says he’s been left with PTSD after receiving regular death threats and dealing with the aftermath of disasters and terrorist attacks. The mayor revealed the hit to his mental health in a wide-ranging interview with the Guardian, which also touched on next year’s mayoral election, housing, air pollution and policing. He said that in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire, the London Bridge attack and the pandemic: “I lost my mojo. I didn’t have clarity of thinking. I wasn’t so sparky. I wasn’t inspiring my team.”. Khan also stressed that his PTSD was “cumulative” and not equivalent to that experienced by, say, refugees and asylum-seekers he dealt with as a lawyer.
🗳️ We doubt that’ll garner much sympathy with the latest two Conservatives to publicly declare they want to take Khan on in next year’s election. Going public this week were former royal aide Natalie Campbell, who backs a four-day working week, and the government’s minister for London, Paul Scully, who says on day one he’d ‘switch off’ cameras used for the expansion of London’s ultra-low emission zone. Another candidate, Nick Rogers, who had been burnishing his millennial credentials, has pulled out and backed Scully for the job. The date for your diaries: July 18, the deadline for the Conservatives to pick their mayoral contender.
🔴 One last bit of London politics: no sign of Jeremy Corbyn backing down in Islington. He’s told a meeting of the Islington North branch of the Labour party that he wants to carry on as their MP, and members unanimously agreed with him in a vote, despite leader Keir Starmer’s efforts to stop him from standing again.
👮 Musician Fuse ODG has accused the Met Police of racial profiling after he was handcuffed by officers in Brixton. The London-born Afrobeat artist posted footage of the incident on his Instagram, in which police tell him they could smell cannabis. “I spent six hours in A&E due to how tightly they clamped the cuffs on me... (excruciating pain!), as well as suffering neck and back pain for the following weeks,” Fuse ODG wrote in the caption to the post. The Met said his complaint was being assessed by standards officers and that it had made a voluntary referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
🚫 Primrose Hill will now shut at night, ending a fight that’s been brewing since lockdown. Some residents began pushing to shut the park overnight when Covid restrictions led to more parties on the hill, which offers panoramic views of London’s skyline. Broadcaster Jon Snow, who lives nearby, criticised the decision and argues that claims of antisocial behaviour are overblown. The hill is managed by Royal Parks, which says installing the permanent gates is “a balanced and proportionate decision”.
👩⚖️ The driver in the fatal Croydon tram crash has been on trial this week. Prosecutors allege Alfred Dorris failed to take “reasonable care” of the health and safety of himself and his passengers on the day of the crash in 2016, which killed seven people and seriously injured 19. Among the evidence presented at the Old Bailey so far is that Dorris was driving at three times the speed limit around a curve when the tram derailed. The trial is due to go on for up to five weeks.
🚗 A south London council has dropped plans for a new low-traffic neighbourhood following an outcry from residents. Residents of Dulwich Village have declared victory in their battle with Southwark council, which wanted to bring a sixth LTN to the area, near Turney Road.
🔫 Investigators have discovered a ‘weapons factory’ in south London used to convert blank-firing guns into lethal weapons using 3D-printed parts. The National Crime Agency’s forensic experts are now analysing the weapons seized from the industrial unit in Merton.
💸 Council tenants in Lambeth are facing a huge 350% hike in their service charges. Around 3,500 people in the borough’s estates will soon be paying an extra £240 to £300 for communal heating and hot water — an unexpectedly high increase many didn’t budget for. Lambeth council blames the sharp rise in energy prices from the war in Ukraine, which are only now filtering through to tenants because its long-term contracts with suppliers have ended. While we’re on social housing: the housing ombudsman has launched an investigation into Hammersmith and Fulham council’s handling of housing repairs and complaints, after repeated failures.
🎭 An east London theatre has caught the attention of the Telegraph for urging white people not to attend a play. The Theatre Royal Stratford East is hosting a Black Out performance on July 5, which is intended to create a “safe, private” space for an “all-black identifying audience” to explore race-related issues.
🚆 The Elizabeth Line fully opens today, just in time for its one-year anniversary. Trains are now running roughly every two-and-a-half minutes between Paddington and Whitechapel at peak times, and you can now get to Heathrow Airport from east London without having to change.
🏃♂️ Good luck to those taking part in the Hackney half marathon. The race officially begins at 9am if you want to cheer the runners on.
Checking in with London’s super-rich
Another year, another list of eye-wateringly wealthy people. The Sunday Times published its Rich List 2023 on Friday. Surprise, surprise — most of the UK’s billionaires are based in London.
Of course who wouldn’t buy a stunning Georgian mansion in Kensington if they were filthy rich? What’s noticeable though is just how many end up on the list because of London i.e. they make a shedload of cash from property in the capital. The Spy’s had a rummage through this year’s list to see how the city’s mega landlords have fared. We’re sure you’ll be relieved to hear that some have become richer, despite the value of prime commercial and retail property in London actually falling recently. Others weren’t so lucky. First up:
THE REUBEN BROTHERS
Net worth: £24.399bn (up £2.134bn since 2022)
Ranking: 4th (down from 3rd in 2022)
Coming in as the fourth most wealthy in the UK this year are Simon and David Reuben, two brothers who’ve ploughed an incredible amount of money into London property. Born in India, the Reuben brothers came to Britain in the 1950s and started selling carpets once they left state school. That eventually netted them enough cash to buy several shops on Walton Street and Kings Road in Chelsea.
But their true megabucks came when they got involved in the Russian aluminium industry in the 1970s. At their peak, they controlled 5 per cent of the world’s aluminium output through their company Trans-World Metals. And they used the profits to build a huge property portfolio in central London when they left Russia in 2000.
Today that includes: the Millbank Centre and Millbank Tower in Westminster; the John Lewis headquarters on Victoria Street; Primark’s flagship Oxford Street store; London Heliport; and much, much more. Their latest project is converting Piccadilly’s exclusive Naval and on Military Club – aka the In and Out Club — into what they hope will be the capital’s most exclusive private-members’-club.
The Reuben brothers increased their wealth by £2.134bn in 2023, the Sunday Times found. It’s worth saying that the Reubens also have a significant amount of wealth invested in technology companies, not just property, meaning they’ve been shielded from the falls in London real estate value. They have fallen a position on the Rich List though, as they were 3rd last year.
THE DUKE OF WESTMINSTER
Net worth: £9.878bn (up £152m since 2022)
Ranking: 11th (down from 12th in 2022)
You might have spotted ‘Hughie’, as his friends and family call him, during the Coronation, forming part of the King and Queen’s procession in Westminster Abbey. Hugh Grosvenor is the seventh Duke of Westminster, having inherited the title at the age of 25 when his father died unexpectedly from a heart attack. He moves in royal circles, as one of the King’s 32 godchildren and himself godfather to Prince George. And thanks to his title, he oversees a vast London property empire.
It’s proper old money. The Grosvenor dynasty began building its real estate holdings more than 340 years ago when they began developing swamps, pastures and orchards into a new London district called Mayfair. A hundred years later the family turned open land between Hyde Park and River Thames into Belgravia. The Grosvenor Group now own about 300 acres across the two districts.
There’s Grosvenor Square, of course, but also South Molton Triangle, Cundy Street Quarter, 20 Balderton Street and Holbein Gardens, to name a few. Peruse Hughie’s portfolio for yourself here. One of the flagship
The Duke of Westminster managed to increase his wealth, meaning he moved up a spot this year, from the 12th most wealthy in 2022 to now the 11th.
Net worth: £5.916bn (up £216m since 2022)
Ranking: 31st (unchanged on 2022)
Nope, not Ken Livingstone, former London mayor. Ian and Richard Livingstone are another pair of property baron brothers in the capital, though they keep a relatively low profile for billionaires.
Sons of an Ealing dentist and former pupils of St Paul’s in Barnes, Ian went on to become an optometrist while Richard became a chartered surveyor. Flash forward to today and their real estate firm, London & Regional, owns some of the biggest hotels in the city, including the London Hilton on Park Lane, the Traflagar and the Empire in Leicester Square.
Their current big project in the capital is Albert Island — a 25-acre site between London’s Royal Docks and the Thames River. It’s actually owned by the Mayor of London, but the Livingstones’ company is leading the redevelopment plan to turn it into an employment hub, with £300m in investment.
The Livingstone brothers have kept their 31st spot in the Rich List this year, having increased their wealth by £216m.
EARL OF CADOGAN
Net worth: £5.57bn (down £121m since 2022)
Ranking: 36th (down from 32nd in 2022)
Charles Cadogan, aka the Earl of Cadogan, is another of London’s blue-blooded landlords, owning a 90-acre estate that stretches across Chelsea and Knightsbridge. It’s a property portfolio that dates back to the Georgian kings.
All-in-all Cadogan Estates owns around 3,000 flats, 200 houses and 300 shops. Best known is probably Sloane Street, which it developed with a new plaza of high-end shops, and Cadogan Hall. Charles has now mostly turned over everyday duties managing the portfolio to his son, Edward.
Unlike the Duke of Westminster, the Earl of Cadogan has seen his wealth slide by £121m, in a sign of the toughening market for central London property. As a result, he’s fallen to 36th on the Rich List, from 32nd last year
BARONESS HOWARD DE WALDEN
Net worth: £3.571bn (down £61m since 2022)
Ranking: 51st (down from 49th in 2022)
Finally, we turn to Baroness Howard De Walden and family, who own the Howard de Walden Estate, concentrated around Marylebone. Their estate extends to 92 acres and covers around 800 properties.
They’ve also seen a fall in wealth though, of £61m, meaning they now rank 51st in the UK.
We couldn’t pass on the opportunity to highlight the obscene London bases of the other elite on the Rich List. Like Len Blavatnik, the owner of the Warner Music Group with a net worth of £28.625bn, making him the 3rd richest in the UK. He recently renovated his 13-bedroom house in the exclusive Kensington Palace Gardens, complete with a 25-metre swimming pool and a multi-story underground car park to help his guests avoid pesky traffic wardens. One of his neighbours is Lakshmi Mittal, a metals mogul who’s lived in London since the mid-1990s and is the 6th richest in the UK, with net wealth of £16bn. His residence is apparently made of marble that came from the same quarry that supplied the Taj Mahal. And then there’s John Fredriksen, who made his £8.311bn fortune in the world of shipping and tanking. So desirable is his Chelsea pad, the Old Rectory, that former Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich randomly offered £100m for it, even though it wasn’t for sale.
Speaking of, two owners of London football clubs also make the Rich List. Tottenham owner Joe Lewis, who was born in the East End, ranks 39th, with net wealth of £5.096bn. There’s also Daniel Kretinsky, ranking 47th, who made his £4bn fortune from energy and owns a chunk of West Ham.
We should also give one final shoutout to his maj, King Charles III. The Crown Estate is one of London’s biggest landlords, with a recent project estimating it owns about 166 acres in the capital. One notable royal holding is the Oval cricket ground in south London. The Sunday Times estimates the King’s worth £600m — wealthier than the late Queen, whose fortune was calculated at £370m.
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