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London art dealer Ivor Braka buys Knightsbridge mansion project

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ondon art dealer Ivor Braka has sold his Knightsbridge home/private gallery of thirty years, swapping it for a mansion across the road with a potential value thought to be in excess of £60 million.

The maverick collector, who filled his red-brick Cadogan Square home with sculptures and paintings by artists such as Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud, will soon be moving his treasure trove of art and designer furniture to an opulent Grade II-listed mansion — also located on the exclusive Cadogan Square.

The Queen Anne revival-style home has been empty for a number of years and Mr Braka plans to complete an ambitious restoration of the property, converting it from apartments back into one home, which could surpass £60 million in value based on current average prices per square foot at the prestigious address.

The currently sub-divided home has opulent interiors with oak panelling, a striking neo-Jacobean staircase and stained glass windows.

Director of the National Portrait Gallery Nicholas Cullinan, left, with art collector Ivor Braka, right

/ WireImage

Rather than modernise the building, however, Mr Braka wants to restore it. “I like to go with a place’s original aesthetic. With places like this, you can’t wipe out that character, so if you don’t like it you wouldn’t buy it.”

He added: “I’ve been in my place for 30 years, but it’s nice to do something different. When I saw the house at number 52 I fell in love with it.”

The property has an illustrious history, and was designed by architect Sir Ernest George in 1886 for Sir Thomas Andros de la Rue, chairman of the De La Rue banknote printing empire. It was later owned by Tate & Lyle sugar tycoon Vernon Tate, who used it as accomodation for visiting executives.

The building and the mews house next door was bought by the Cadogan Group, one of London’s wealthiest landowners, for £30 million in 2010. The group later won permission to transform the buildings back from serviced apartments into one giant mega-mansion but the work was never undertaken.

Cadogan Estates’ 2015 designs showed how the properties could be turned into 20,000 sq ft of accommodation and a lift joining all the floors in the main house. On Cadogan Square, houses typically sell for between £2,000 and £3,000 per sq/ft — potentially giving number 52 a £60 million price-tag.

Mr Braka’s art collection is today split across his London home and one of his two pubs he owns in Norfolk. In 2011 he gutted and renovated The Gunton Arms, an 18th-century pub in an 1,000-acre deer park which is now filled with artwork by Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst.

In 2012, Mr Braka irked some of his London neighbours by installing sculptures by Tracey Emin and Anthony Gormley in his back garden, which was also shared by eight other properties.

The display featured a 15-ft pole topped with a tiny bird by Emin, and a standing figure by Gormley as well as two sculptural supports for a Mulberry tree.

But one of his neighbours did not appreciate the free art exhibition and complained to Kensington & Chelsea Council, forcing Mr Braka to seek planning permission for them to stay.

Mr Braka confirmed he will be taking his sculpture garden with him when he leaves.

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