• Kevin Murphy

Knightsbridge : The Assange Eviction

The six year stay inside the Ecuadorian Embassy for Julian Assange, the Australian founder of Wikileaks, may be coming to an end. It seems even the Ecuadorian government and embassy staff are ready for his departure after millions being spent on security and other issues. It is estimated that Ecuador spent £5 million or more in a secret intelligence budget to monitor embassy visitors of Assange, including London police and staff at the embassy. Assange visitors include well known names as Pamela Anderson, Nigel Farage formerly of UKIP, assorted computer hackers, lawyers, members of the press and individuals associated with European nationalists groups with ties to the Kremlin.

The most recent setback for Assange was the removal of security that the previous Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa had put in place and described as 'routine and modest.' But Correa's successor the new President Lenin Moreno recently announced a change in the security situation by ordering its removal and that security measures be no different than what Ecuador has at its embassies worldwide.

The Guardian reports that Moreno has described the Assange situation as “a stone in his shoe”.

It has been reported that Assange had the embassy staff renovate a women's lavatory to be his quiet zone and sleep area due to the street noise.

Knightsbridge Values

I have walked by the embassy many times but have never witnessed Mr. Assange when he addressed his followers, the media and passersby from the front balcony of the embassy. So if the eviction of Mr. Assange eventually happens what would could possibly be next for the embassy itself?

Always important for real estate is of course: location. The embassy property is located on Hans Crecsent and Basil Street behind Harrods department store with a short walk to shops on Brompton Road and the Knightsbridge tube station. If Ecuador wanted to sell and move to another location what would be the possible value of their share of the building?

The multi-storey red brick Ecuadorian embassy is not the most grand when compared to other embassies in London. It consists of 10 room suites and a kitchenette. On the upper floors are the Columbian Embassy and 15 luxury apartments.

The value of the Ecuadorian embassy property has been estimated at £15 million but analysts say the property could fetch more than that. This price is relatively low in comparison to other diplomatic missions in the city.

The Daily Mail reports that both Australia House on the Strand and the Embassy of Japan on Piccadilly are both valued at £100 million. The previous American embassy at Grosvenor House fetched £500 million when it was sold with the new embassy at Nine Elms valued at £600 million. Others including the diplomatic mission for North Korea in Acton, West London is valued at £750,000 and the collective value of all EU embassies in London has an estimated worth of £881 million.

Zoopla reports that the average paid for a flat on Hans Crescent is at £1,743,500 and the current average value at £2,477,789 in May 2018.

'This is a rise of 2.01% in the last three months (since February 2018) and fall of 4.22% since 12 months ago. In terms of property types, flats in Hans Crescent sold for an average of £2,504,214 and terraced houses for £4,154,048.'

By London standards these prices may seem to be a bargain but other residential flats in the SW1 postcode are a bit more to say the least.

On the property website Prime Location listings for a variety of flats for sale or freehold include a 3-bedroom, 3-bath flat at The Cloister, One Hyde Park, asking £22 million.

The seller describes some of the property features:

'This apartment has an audio visual system and programmed lighting controls, fresh air supply, cooling and heating.Additional benefits of this building is that it also comes with underground parking, wine cellar, storage unit and access to 24/7 concierge desk and Mandarin Oriental residents service.'

Another listing in the 4900 sq ft £22 million townhouse by Knightsbridge Estate Agents on Herbert Crescent. Features include:

'Brand Newly Developed Freehold House Six Bedrooms, Plus Office/StudyFour En-Suite Luxury Marble Tiled BathroomsRear Patio Garden & TerraceGymnasium, Swimming Pool, CinemaFully Integrated Kitchen on LG Floor, Plus Kitchenette on 1st FloorTwo Reception Rooms, Two Dining RoomsPassenger Lift) Full Home Digital Automation Systems / Air Con / and Underfloor Heating.'

Chestertons has a refurbished flat listing first floor apartment asking £9,295,000 for a four bedroom double suites layout.


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