Saturday 25 January 2020

Operation transformation to relaunch €5.5m D4 Dunne mansion

€1m price cut plus €100k of art and furniture for Dunne pad, writes Mark Keenan
Ouragh, Shrewsbury Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
Asking price: €5.5m
Agent: Colliers (01) 6333700

Exterior of Ouragh which has six bedroom suites and five reception rooms
Exterior of Ouragh which has six bedroom suites and five reception rooms
The dining room
The hallway
The open-plan kitchen
Sean Dunne with wife Gayle Killilea
One of the reception rooms
Two reception rooms interlink
Mark Keenan

Mark Keenan

BEFORE declaring bankruptcy in the USA in 2013, former developer Sean Dunne lived life extra-large alongside his wife, the one-time gossip columnist Gayle Killilea.

From the Dunnes we got the highest price ever paid for an Irish house (Gayle bought Walford on Shrewsbury Road in 2005 for €58m) and a record site price (€380m) for 7ac in Ballsbridge with plans for Ireland's highest ever (37 storey) tower block.

This came after the so-called 'Baron of Ballsbridge' developed Ireland's most expensive ever apartment block (they went up to €2.5m at Hollybrook in Foxrock). There was a big fat Greek yacht wedding (€1.5m on the Christina 0) and even a go-large estimate on the value of a relationship - Mr Dunne told a court he made a payment to his wife Gayle of €100m for her "love and affection".

Finally, Mr Dunne has attempted to walk away from repaying a debt of €700m. The couple have fought proceedings on three continents from their base in Connecticut.

But this week, it was time to reveal a go-large makeover at the Dunnes' former mansion in Ballsbridge, which has just been involved in Ireland's biggest ever house staging - a two-week long project that has concluded at Ouragh, the D4 home built to extra large dimensions at Shrewsbury Road. The asking price of €6.5m has been given a stiff haircut, reduced by €1m to €5.5m to make it more saleable amidst a deteriorating market at the upper end.

The staging operation has involved decking out the hitherto empty mansion with €100,000 worth of furniture and fine art, with a staging fee likely to be approaching €40,000.

The drawing room
The drawing room

The top-end makeover - the largest ever undertaken by furniture and fine arts specialist De Veres White - and the price cut is intended to prepare the property for a relaunch on the market this weekend a year after it was originally placed for sale at €7m.

The move is believed to have been the result of control of the property shifting from Nama following the recent transfer of a large loan portfolio. It is not yet clear who now controls the debt on the house, which is being sold on the instruction of the receiver, but the likelihood is that it is a foreign owned 'vulture fund' or an investment bank.

Colliers agent Marcus Magnier said: "The top end of the market in Dublin is patchy at the moment thanks to Brexit. The price reduction is seen as a realistic move by the receivers to secure a sale going forward. Staging a property like this, particularly one in which such unusually large rooms could look bereft or intimidating when empty, is a positive step in helping buyers imagine it as a welcoming home."

Ouragh, which spans 8,700 sq ft, has already had €500k shaved off the price in a post Brexit referendum market which has seen the departure of British-based Irish nationals from the top end. It had been estimated that British-based Irish were responsible for close to one third of trophy sales.

The full-size pub at Ouragh on Shrewsbury Road, Ballsbridge
The full-size pub at Ouragh on Shrewsbury Road, Ballsbridge

The reinvigorated marketing strategy and price comes under the instructions of receiver Michael Madden of HWBC. The house, which is laid out over four floors and includes its own full-sized traditional pub, had a staging requirement for unusually large rooms. The drawing room alone measures 1,029 sq ft - roughly the equivalent floor space of an entire average city family home. The kitchen/breakfast room is just under this at 966 sq ft, while the master bedroom, with its dressing room and ensuite, stands at 1040 sq ft - also equivalent to an entire average semi.

The dressing room has bespoke built-in wardrobes, shelves and its ensuite bathroom has stone-tiled floor and walls, a luxury circular Jacuzzi bath, twin stone sinks and a stone-tiled shower room with a bench seat.

"This is without doubt the biggest house staging job we've ever undertaken," says Rory Guthrie of De Veres White, which currently has four trophy homes staged for sale in Dublin. "These rooms are unusually large so they required unusually large pieces. For example, the dining room table is a mid 19th century mahogany version which seats 16 people." The combined value of the table and chairs is €15,000 - everything can be acquired with the property.

"We decided an extra special bed was required in the master bedroom, so we brought in a 1955 Italian version in solid bronze (€2,500). The purpose of the project is to help potential buyers envisage what these vast spaces can look like when furnished as a home. In this case, we have mixed antique and period furniture with modern pieces."

The artwork includes a contemporary canvas by Charles Tyrell in the hall, which spans 6ft by 4ft, and a Richard Kingston work measuring 4ft by 6ft. Among the more unusual items provided is a table soccer game.

Set behind electronic gates, Ouragh includes six bedroom suites, including the aforementioned master suite and dressing room. It has five reception rooms and includes a customised bar and snug, a gym and sauna, as well as a lift to all levels. The pillared archway in the entrance hall has an oak balustraded staircase which serves each of the floors from the basement up.

There's a billiard and media room, and an outsized "Hamptons style" kitchen. To the rear is an extensive stone-paved patio area and a terrace with a water feature.

Ouragh was built on a 0.2ac site, acquired for almost €4m from Black Tie founder Niall O'Farrell. Bank of Scotland (Ireland) lent €7m for it in 2002 and another €5m in 2007. The Carlow man spared no expense on the fit-out. It was leased until 2014 to the South African Embassy at a rent of €180,000.

In May, the High Court restricted Dunne from acting as a company director for the next five years.

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