Discover the paranoid world of London’s super-rich

Discover the paranoid world of London's super-rich

Heyrick Bond Gunning – yes, that really is his name – visits Mayfair most days, but he does not come to buy. He comes to sell. The imposing 44-year-old, a former Grenadier Guards officer, is one of a new breed of salesmen.

He’s selling building and contents protection, but not the kind you’re used to. As the managing director of security firm Salamanca Risk Management, he sells a guarantee that you and your family will never again be bothered by anyone or anything you don’t want to be bothered by.

Business is booming because billionaires are a paranoid bunch. Take one who recently moved to Mayfair. ‘He wanted everything, from protection from cyber hacking through to physical intrusion and kidnapping,’ says Bond Gunning.

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‘We ended up installing fingerprint-activated locks for family members and programmable keys for staff that limit the time they are allowed into the property and the rooms they are able to enter and exit.

‘Inside and outside we installed 24-hour monitored CCTV cameras that are so hi-tech they can tell the difference between a dog, cat and a person. In the garden there are thermal-imaging cameras that can detect heat sources in the undergrowth. One thing intruders can’t hide is the heat of their bodies.

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‘Should an intruder evade the cameras or ignore the warnings they automatically broadcast, the property itself is protected by bulletproof glass and alarm sensors in all rooms.

‘There is a bullet, gas and bombproof panic or safe room, with its own food and water, medical supplies and communications, and an impregnable supply of fresh air. Just in case the family cannot make it there in time, key rooms are sealed by reinforced shutters.’

The bill for such peace of mind? A cool £1m.

Source: Evening Standard

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Driver of £1m Bugatti Veyron supercar asks boys for a push after car breaks down in street

Driver of £1m Bugatti Veyron supercar asks boys for a push after car breaks down in street

The driver of a plush £1m supercar was left looking red-faced when his car broke down – and he was forced to ask passing lads for a push.

His Bugatti Veyron ground to a halt as its owner drove through an exclusive area of Knightbridge.

It was snapped being pushed by eager helpers through the luxurious area – but the driver struggled to get it going again.

The cream and maroon car has been quite an attraction in London, with plenty of pictures circulating social media.

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On Monday when his car was given a parking ticket from a traffic warden for resting on double yellow lines.

The Bugatti Veyron can hit top speeds of 253mph.

The Super Sport version is recognised by the Guinness World Records as the fastest street-legal production car in the world, with a top speed of 267.7 mph.

The capital has seen a massive boom in the number of Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Bugattis on its streets as rich Qataris, Saudis, Emiratis and Kuwaitis move to Britain to escape the Middle East’s baking mid-summer months.

Source: Mirror

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London’s sky pool will let the super-rich swim through the air

London's sky pool will let the super-rich swim through the air

Developers in London are building what they claim is the world’s first “sky pool” — a 25-meter-long swimming pool suspended 10 stories in the air between two blocks of luxury flats.

The transparent pool at Embassy Gardens will be three meters deep with a water depth of 1.2 meters, and will be constructed with the help of aquarium designers using 20-cm-thick glass.

The pool will allow residents to swim between the development’s roof-top bar, spa, and orangery (a walkway will be available as well), with prices for apartments and penthouses in the complex starting at £602,000 ($942,572).

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“My vision for the sky pool stemmed from a desire to push the boundaries in the capability of construction and engineering. I wanted to do something that had never been done before,” said Sean Mulryan, chairman and CEO of the Ballymore Group, the project’s developers. “The experience of the pool will be truly unique, it will feel like floating through the air in central London.”

Although the sky pool is certainly architecturally striking, the project can also be seen as symbolic of London’s housing problems, with developers in the city often promising to build affordable homes in central areas only to focus on luxury apartments instead.

Embassy Gardens itself is part of the larger Nine Elms development in southwest London, which is intended to regenerate the inner-city district of Battersea. Instead, say critics, homes in the $23 billion development are being marketed primarily to wealthy buyers in Asia and the Middle East, with locals simply priced out of the market.

London's sky pool will let the super-rich swim through the air

Source: The Verge

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Qatari supercar owner admits: ‘We make too much noise’

Qatari supercar owner admits: 'We make too much noise'

A wealthy “boy-racer” from the Middle East welcomed the proposed crackdown on anti-social driving in Knightsbridge and admitted “we make too much noise.”

Kensington and Chelsea council chiefs plan to introduce “car-Asbos”, making it a criminal offence for drivers to rev their engines, rapidly accelerate or play loud music in the neighbourhood.

The move follows years of roaring engines and squealing tyres on summer nights on the streets around Harrods that have blighted the lives of local residents. Now drivers of the imported “pimped up” supercars – often covered in gold or crystals – face prosecution and fines.

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One supercar owner told the Standard he accepted the noise from their cars had been causing problems.

Mohammed Al Kubaisi, 26, a millionaire businessman from Qatar, has driven his Bentley, Ferrari, Rolls Royce Ghost, and now his Aston Martin Vanquish around the streets of Knightsbridge.

But he said: “We need to respect the UK law and the people that live here. We do make too much noise with our cars and we are visitors here so if the law is made we will abide by it.”

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The planned Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) would be imposed on the Brompton and Hans Town wards of Knightsbridge, which includes Harrods and the streets around it.

Breaches of the PSPO will lead to fines and potential prosecution. Repeated breaking of the rules will lead to cars being seized by police and impounded.

The order would make it illegal for motorists to perform any of 11 different activities: revving engines; speeding; sudden or rapid acceleration; driving in convoy; racing; leaving the engine of a stationary vehicle to run idle; performing stunts; sounding horns; playing music; using threatening, intimidating behaviour; causing an obstruction on the road, whether moving or stationary.

Qatari supercar owner admits: 'We make too much noise' Qatari supercar owner admits: 'We make too much noise' Qatari supercar owner admits: 'We make too much noise'

Source: Evening Standard

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Armored cars: a growing trend among the super rich

Armored cars: a growing trend among the super rich

What is the latest accessory for the budding princeling, oligarch or cartel boss to be conspicuously driving in London using an inconspicuous exterior?

The latest status symbol of the wealthy traversing London’s prestigious West End roads are armored vehicles disguised as your average, every day luxury vehicle. Transforming a common Range Rover, Bentley or Maserati into a vehicle designed to withstand a terrorist attack is becoming popular as well as profitable.

While protecting a precious cargo is nothing new – everyone from presidents to dictators has done it throughout history – the trend is gaining acceptance among those who might not actually need protection, an Economist article noted.

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The rising tide of a popular trend among the rich and famous can be seen in worldwide market growth. While such armored cars with bullet proof glass and bomb-proof exteriors amounted to “a handful” of vehicles on the road a few years ago, Mark Burton of International Armoring estimates that in 2015 there will be 7,500 such vehicles sold.

Demand is growing not because the world is more dangerous, the report noted, but because the super-rich – mainly from Russia, Africa and the Middle East – can so easily afford to minimize threats “whether they be real or imaginary.”

Burton competes from his Centerville, Utah headquarters with Streit, a Canadian armored-car company that is teaming with Ares, an Italian firm that adds luxury features to luxury cars, to open a London showroom. The Streit / Ares collaboration, situating the armored luxury vehicle showroom in London’s prestigious West End, has the goal of popularizing the concept of luxury vehicles but doing so in an understated fashion.

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While it might be popular to whisper to party goers and friends the benefits of owing a protected vehicle, in public the goal is for the car to blend among the more common luxury vehicles in so as not to become a target.

The cost of outfitting a car that can endure through bomb blasts and bullets alike can run anywhere from $470,000 to $1.6 million additional. And such a car isn’t like your grandfather’s armored car.

With the use of high-tech lighter weight materials means that what previously was a heavy, clunky and hard to maneuver vehicle is not a relative performance machine, not much different handling from how the non-armored version of the same vehicle operates.

Source: Value Walk

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Supercar Season: Middle Eastern millionaires and their gas guzzlers hit London

Supercar Season: Middle Eastern millionaires and their gas guzzlers hit London

Middle-Eastern millionaires have descended on London with their shiny supercars, annoying the locals with their noisy anti-social antics and picking up a wad of parking tickets along the way.

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Dozens of rich petrolheads visit the capital each year for their summer holidays in what is known as ‘The Season’. Here are some of the most outrageous vehicles seen this ‘season’.

A Lamborghini Aventador (from £256,000)

A Lamborghini Aventador (from £256,000)

A Bugatti Veyron (approx £1,400,000) with a parking ticket (up to £130) outside Harrods

A Bugatti Veyron (approx £1,400,000) with a parking ticket (up to £130) outside Harrods

A Lamborghini Aventador (about £260,000) and an Alexander Dennis Enviro 400H double decker bus (about £300,000)

A Lamborghini Aventador (about £260,000) and an Alexander Dennis Enviro 400H double decker bus (about £300,000)

A gold Ferrari 458 (from £153,000) and a red Ferrari F12 (also from £153,000) outside Harrods

A gold Ferrari 458 (from £153,000) and a red Ferrari F12 (also from £153,000) outside Harrods

Source: Telegraph

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Supercar Asbos: will Kensington and Chelsea Council’s crack down on noisy million pound motors make London less colourful?

Supercar Asbos: will Kensington and Chelsea Council's crack down on noisy million pound motors make London less colourful?

Curbing anti-social supercars in London’s most affluent areas will no doubt make our streets quieter. But will they become less colourful too? Phil Clarke from the London Evening Standard investigates…

Power-sliding round the corner, a pearl-coloured Maserati with diplomatic plates screeches off Hyde Park Corner and onto Grosvenor Crescent, an AMG Mercedes E63 hot in pursuit. With a crunch of gears and a perfectly executed five-point-turn, we add our slightly ailing white Nissan to the fray. Finally we’re on the trail of London’s super rich boy racers.

The Maserati leads the way as they speed onto Pont Street. They cross Sloane Street and continue up towards Beauchamp Place, breaking left onto Walton Street as the Merc, sporting Russian number plates, attempts to undertake, cutting across the pavement. They stop at traffic lights, and both cars impatiently rev their throttles, sending pigeons fluttering.

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Our people carrier, panting from trying to keep up, whirrs painfully. On green they’re off again, up Pelham Street and past South Kensington station. The AMG driver nearly loses control as he skids onto Onslow Square, just missing a grey delivery van. Unwilling to risk following further, we fall back and London returns to it’s normal pace, the unmistakable howl of exhaust reverb disappearing into the distance.

It is this noise that Kensington and Chelsea Council wants to stop. The last few years have seen a rapid rise in the phenomenon of wealthy car enthusiasts using the roads of Knightsbridge, Chelsea, Kensington and Belgravia as an unofficial street circuit. As prestigious as Monte Carlo, yet as accessible as a drive down the shops — if your local stores are Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana, that is.

The cars themselves are expensive, powerful and highly customised. Million pound cars capable of speeds over 200mph, clad in chrome wraparounds costing tens of thousands vie for pole position with Boris buses and Ocado delivery men.

The council has responded with “car asbos”, Public Spaces Protection Orders, which will be imposed on anyone racing, revving or playing loud music from their cars in the streets around the spiritual home of the London supercar scene: Harrods.

I spot a jewel-encrusted Mercedes, exactly the sort of thing that must send council employees apoplectic, and wait to meet its owner. It’s a thing of strange beauty, like the end-of-term prank on the boss’s car at a disco ball factory. Or possibly a Damien Hirst installation circa 2007.

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Finally it pays off and I hear keys jangle, but the owner isn’t quite what I was expecting. Not a Saudi Prince or Russian oligarch, ready to terrorise the local population with their wheel spins and endless revolutions, but a 21-year-old female fashion student.

Puppy-loving and self-confessed careful driver, Daria Radionova was given the car, a Mercedes CLS 350 worth £50,000, as a birthday present from her parents, who still live in their native Moldova. It has one million Swarovski crystals attached, individually stuck on by hand at a cost of over £35,000. “I brought experts over from Russia. There were four people doing it, and it took two months sticking them on one by one,” she explains.

The one thing I’ve been unable to find is any real evidence of the Arab and Russian wide-boy car fanatics of the kind Nick Paget-Brown, leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council, warned of when he told the Standard: “the area has become a destination for boy-racers from the Gulf states”.

After several hours pacing the pavements of Hans Town I am yet to see anything but stationary supercars, the odd Saudi or Kuwaiti numberplate but certainly none of the aggression and antisocial behaviour the council hope to outlaw. Each car is constantly surrounded by tourists, snapping and selfie-ing away. While we were chatting to Daria one man came up to her driveable-glitterball to say thank you, telling us he brought his young son up to Harrods just to show him all the cars.

But then came the car chase, and having witnessed first-hand the reckless driving, not to mention racket, I can see why the council is keen to act. Yet thinking about Daria’s outrageous vehicle and the tourists milling round her, I wonder if our streets may be about to become a little quieter, but a bit less colourful too.

Source: London Evening Standard

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