Thursday 27 June 2019

Gayle got €14m from sale of Ireland's most expensive residence

Bust developer's wife owned €58m Shrewsbury Road mansion

PARTNERS: Sean Dunne and his wife Gayle had previously denied being the mansion's owners. Photo: Steve Humphreys
PARTNERS: Sean Dunne and his wife Gayle had previously denied being the mansion's owners. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

GAYLE Killilea-Dunne earned €14m from the sale of Walford – Ireland's most expensive house – to a Cypriot-registered company last March, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

While speculation had abounded that the wife of the former 'Baron of Ballsbridge' had been the property's beneficial owner since it was acquired for a record €58m at the height of the boom, both she and her husband had never confirmed that either of them had any beneficial interest in it.

But the Sunday Independent understands Ms Killilea-Dunne finally provided confirmation that the derelict mansion had been hers all along after a boundary dispute arose with the property's nearest neighbour, solicitor Stephen McKenzie.

The Arts and Crafts-style house was back in the news a short time later when the record of its sale for €14m popped up on the newly-established property price register. It emerged shortly after that the house had been sold to a Cypriot-registered company called Yesreb Holding Ltd.

Sources familiar with the matter told the Sunday Independent last night that the €14m which had become available to Ms Killilea-Dunne following the transaction was being used to fund her property development business and to help defray any costs she might incur from ongoing or potential litigation.

But while Ms Killilea-Dunne has disposed of Walford, the residents of Shrewsbury Road are still wondering if she and her husband have retained an interest in the property.

Their scepticism is made clear in the objections they sent in recent weeks to Dublin City Council in relation to the latest plans for the house's redevelopment lodged by the property's newly registered owner, Yesreb Holding Ltd.

Commenting on the failure of the company to consult them on its plans for the derelict mansion, the members of Shrewsbury Road residents' association wrote to council officials, saying: "One further issue that disappoints us is the fact that the new owners (if indeed they are new owners) did not have the common decency to approach the association to discuss their proposals with us."

While the residents' association – which is headed by Gowan Group chief Michael Maughan and Total Produce chairman Carl McCann – does not refer to either Sean or Gayle Killilea-Dunne specifically, a separate objection sent by Mr McKenzie appears to draw a direct link between the couple and the abandoned mansion.

Detailing the investigations he has conducted as part of his efforts to identify the beneficial owners behind Yesreb Holding Ltd, the company which is recorded as having paid €14m for Walford earlier this year, Mr McKenzie writes: "Walford is a compulsory land registry and to date no documents have been lodged with the Land Registry. The original owners are Matsack Nominees and it is our understanding that they hold the land in trust for Sean and Gale [sic] Dunne."

Commenting further on his efforts to identify the individuals behind Yesreb, Mr McKenzie writes: "The name of the directors [behind Yesreb] is not listed individually, instead the company directors are listed as Totaltrust Management Limited.

"A list of directors cannot be a limited company and it is our view that the applicants have not shown sufficient legal interest of ownership as nothing has been lodged in the Land Registry with regard to a recent transfer of ownership."

News of the objections to the redevelopment of Walford will not come as a surprise to the house's owners, given the scale of their plans which, if accepted, would see the house itself going from some 433sqm to 964sqm in size and four houses of 608sqm apiece being built on the lands to its rear.

Remarking on the possibility that Walford's owners might be allowed to build those new houses, Stephen McKenzie's objection states: "When compared to the elegant and spacious layout of the existing Walford and large garden, the new proposed houses with their extensive bedrooms and floors with no garden appear like Cinderella's sisters trying to get their enormous feet into the glass slipper."

Sunday Independent

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