She is better known for her financial woes than investment acumen but things appear to have taken a surprising turn for the Duchess of York.
Sarah Ferguson has purchased a pair of flats costing up to £7million in the heart of Mayfair.
The pretty mews house which contains the properties is said to be a ‘long-term investment’ for her daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.
It is not known how much she paid the owner the Duke of Westminster – one of Britain’s wealthiest men and a close friend to the royals – for the house
The property, part of the duke’s Grosvenor estate, had been split into two separate luxury apartments and put on the market separately earlier this year for a combined total of £6.75million.
The duchess is converting the two flats, which boast a bijou terrace, bar, two reception rooms and a parking garage, into one home.
But sources say she has no plans to leave the grace and favour 30-room Windsor mansion she shares with disgraced ex-husband Prince Andrew – and instead plans to rent out the new property.
Sarah Ferguson (pictured with ex-husband Prince Andrew in 2019), 62, is said to have purchased the home from her friend the Duke of Westminster, 31, who became one of the wealthiest men in the country when he inherited his father’s £10billion fortune in 2016
Pictured: The property offers a stunning reception room with a cast-iron fireplace, large window and two floor to ceiling bookcases
The second floor compromises of a principal bedroom suite with a walk-in wardrobe, a second bedroom suite as well as a private roof terrace
The property’s large living room features a neutral decor and horizontal skylight to open up the space. The walls feature panelled mirrors alongside built-in cupboard space
The large open plan kitchen features a black marble island and worktops with a sky light and large windows to ensure maximum light
The pricey purchase will raise questions over how the duchess, who has spoken of her debts and bankruptcy fears, could afford to splash out.
Sources close to the 62-year-old claim her financial status improved after she launched a writing career that secured various book deals.
In 2010 she told US television she was ‘continually on the verge of financial bankruptcy’ and had ‘little understanding’ of money.
She lost more than £3.2million in the collapse of Hartmoor, her US ‘lifestyle and wellness’ company, and was later caught in a tabloid sting offering access to Prince Andrew for £500,000.
In 2011 she accepted £15,000 from Jeffrey Epstein, the paedophile financier who introduced Prince Andrew to Virginia Roberts, now Giuffre, to help her avoid bankruptcy.
A source told the Sun: ‘This is a beautiful home … If the girls are going to inherit it at some stage they’re extremely lucky.
‘But God knows where the money has come from – everyone thought they were totally skint.’
Pictured: The house reportedly bought by Sarah Ferguson in Mayfair from the Duke of Westminster amid questions about where she got the money from
This year she published a romantic novel, Her Heart For A Compass, and recently signed a 22-book deal to write fiction for children and young adults.
A spokesman for Prince Andrew said he had no involvement in the purchasing of the property.
He is facing huge legal costs after reaching a settlement of up to £12million over allegations of sexual assault brought by Mrs Giuffre, which he denies.
He did not accept any liability when he made the settlement and vehemently denies the claims.
The new Mayfair property is a stone’s throw from Ghislaine Maxwell’s house where he was pictured with his arm around the waist of the then Miss Roberts.
The house is nestled on a quiet cobbled street home to an eatery popular with The Beatles in the 1960s and more recently Prince Harry, Rihanna and stars of reality series Made In Chelsea.
Locals said the duchess had been spotted viewing the house earlier this year. A neighbour who lives a few doors away from Fergie’s corner house said: ‘The builders have been in for ages and it has been empty. Two flats have been knocked together to make a house.
The property is said to be where the Duke of York was photographed with his arm around the bare waist of then 17-year-old Virginia Roberts. In the background, Ghislaine Maxwell
‘I didn’t know she had bought that property. I’m a bit surprised that she has bought it right next to the garage. Because there are cars coming in and out all the time.
‘But I suppose the property values have just gone up with royalty here — unless Andrew moves in of course!’
Fergie will be welcomed to the area by the local landlord — who has offered her the first drink on the house.
‘This is a pub which is very popular with the residents of this street,’ publican Afrim Neli said. ‘I will welcome her and offer her a free drink.
‘The Beatles would come in as their manager Brian Epstein lived here and Rhianna comes in when she is in London. So we are used to famous faces.’
The Yorks have been involved in several property controversies. Their former marital home, Sunninghill in Ascot, Berkshire, was sold by Prince Andrew for £3million more than the asking price of £12million in 2007 to a Kazakh oligarch. It later emerged that Andrew had been acting as a fixer in business deals for the wealthy businessman.
The duke is also trying to sell his £18million ski chalet in Verbier, Switzerland. Bought in 2014, it was also described as a nest egg for the children. But the sale has been stalled by a couple who claim he also owes them a business debt of £1.6million.
The Duchess of York’s representatives last night confirmed the latest purchase.
But they refused to comment or disclose any details on the particulars of the sale.
A local housekeeper said: ‘About two months ago I saw her coming out of the house. She seemed in a hurry and got into a car.
‘I didn’t really look too closely as we are used to famous people around here.’
A man parking his car in the garage said: ‘The spaces normally cost about £3,000 a year. I believe there was one space available too. Maybe she’ll get that.’
Ms Maxwell sold her mews to a developer for £1.75million last year to help towards her legal bills before she was jailed for 20 years in New York for grooming children for her paedophile boyfriend Jeffrey Epstein, who trafficked Virginia and other girls around the world on his private jets — treating them as sex slaves.
Fergie is said to have purchased her new home from her friend the Duke of Westminster, 31, who became one of Britain’s wealthiest people when he inherited his father’s £10billion fortune and the Grosvenor property empire in 2016. He is also a close friend of Prince William and Prince Harry.
The £5million house is said to be viewed as an investment opportunity for her daughters Beatrice and Eugenie — but for now it is Fergie’s only home in London amid questions about where she could have found the cash.
Her multi-million pound purchase came despite her repeated complaints of financial difficulties in recent years, describing herself as ‘continually on the verge of financial bankruptcy’ in a 2010 TV interview in the US. She also admitted to having ‘little understanding’ of money and there were reports she had run up as much as £4.2million in debt during her marriage to Andrew.
She received £3million from their divorce and most of her income is now likely to come from her books. Her first bodice-ripper crept onto the bestseller charts last year — despite critics branding it a ‘slog’ with no sex. Critics branded the book ‘boring’ but it initially sold 1,000 copies a week when it was released.
People on the street said the Duchess had been spotted viewing the house in the late spring — and seen running into a waiting vehicle. They admitted they were happy to have yet another famous neighbour — as long as her ex-husband stays away.
The mews was once two flats now converted back to a house and formed part of the giant Grosvenor Estates portfolio, but has now been transferred to the Duchess, who spends most of her time living with her ex-husband at his grace-and-favour home — the Royal Lodge in Windsor.
Disgraced British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell’s mews house in Belgravia was bought by a property developer for £1.75 million. It is a gentle stroll from Fergie’s new home
Prince Harry files his second lawsuit against UK government and Scotland Yard over decision to ban him from paying for police protection in Britain
Prince Harry has filed a second lawsuit against the British government and Scotland Yard over the decision not to allow him to pay for police protection when he visits from California.
The Duke of Sussex is already suing the Home Office over its decision in 2020 to remove his taxpayer-funded protection, which he says makes it unsafe for him to come to Britain with his wife, Meghan Markle, and two children, Archie and Lilibet.
Now he has filed a second lawsuit against the Home Office which also names the Metropolitan Police, the High Court confirmed to MailOnline.
‘It is at an early stage, no hearings have been listed yet and no decisions have been made,’ the Judicial Office added.
The new case will focus on a decision in January by the Royalty and VIP Executive Committee (RAVEC), which concluded that private individuals should not be allowed to pay for police to protect them.
The revelation of a second court case – which emerged on Meghan’s birthday – threatens to raise tensions with the Royal Family due to claims that the Queen’s Private Secretary, Sir Edward Young, was involved in the decision to deny Harry protection.
‘Significant tensions’ are said to have existed between the Duke of Sussex Sir Edward, according to the prince’s legal team.
Today’s news is also likely to dismay the government, which has spent £100,000 on its legal battle so far, according to a report last week.
A spokesman for her ex-husband Prince Andrew, who has had his own financial woes after settling the case brought by Virginia Roberts Giuffre for £12million, said he had not been personally involved in the purchase.
The Duke and Duchess of York have also been trying to sell their £17.5million Verbier ski chalet, but this has been held up by legal woes.
MailOnline has contacted Buckingham Palace for comment.
Fergie and Andrew currently reside in the Royal Lodge in Windsor, owned by the Queen, 96, who resides in the nearby castle.
Sources told the Sun the new Mayfair property is thought to be ‘a long-term investment for daughters Princess Beatrice and Eugenie’, describing it as ‘picturesque’ and in ‘one of the very smartest areas of London.’
They added: ‘It had previously been a couple of flats but has been converted to a single property.
‘If the girls are going to inherit it at some stage they’re extremely lucky.
‘It’s a short walk from the best bars and restaurants in the city, beautiful parks and other hot spots. But God knows where the money has come from — everyone thought they were totally skint.’
Fergie’s representatives confirmed the purchase to the Sun but were unable to provide any more specifics of the sale — which has yet to be published by Land Registry officials.
It is not the first time the couple’s property deals have come under scrutiny.
In January MPs called for a ‘dirty money’ probe into the £15million sale of Prince Andrew’s Sunninghill estate to a Kazakh oligarch who became the centre of corruption claims.
The Duke, 61, sold the home in Ascot, Berkshire, to Timur Kulibayev, 55, the son-in-law of Kazakhstan’s autocratic former president Nursultan Nazarbayev, in 2007.
But questions had been raised ever since over the sale of the property, originally gifted by the Queen to Andrew when he married Sarah Ferguson, after it went for £15million — £3million over its asking price.
That is despite the property, which was mockingly called ‘SouthYork’ due to its supposed similarity to the garish ranch of SouthFork in the US series Dallas, languishing on the property market for five years at an asking price of £12million.
The chalet in Verbier has an indoor pool, sauna, boot room and terrace with spectacular views. The couple have been trying to sell it for around £17.5m
Then: Sunninghill House, on the edge of Windsor Great Park near to Ascot, which was sold by Prince Andrew in 2007
In 2015, Kulibayev razed Sunninghill Park – which had been compared to a Tesco superstore due to its ugly appearance – so that he could build a new home. Last year, images (above) showed how the home’s sprawling ultra-modern replacement was nearing completion
Andrew, who has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, was once a special trade envoy for the UK.
The Duke of Westminster (pictured), 31, is believed to have sold a £5million Mayfair property to Sarah Ferguson
And he had been accused of acting as a fixer in Kulibayev’s business deals – Andrew has always denied any impropriety – and is a close friend of the tycoon’s Nazarbayev.
Andrew is also struggling to sell his £18m ski chalet in Verbier, Switzerland, due to an alleged £1.6m debt to a Swiss couple.
According to reports in the Swiss media, the debt to the mystery couple is preventing the Duke of York from completing the sale of his much-loved Chalet Helora.
It has been claimed that the disgraced royal was intending to use money from the sale of the property to help finance his £10million sex assault lawsuit settlement with accuser Virginia Giuffre.
In February of this year it was reported that Andrew had found a buyer for the chalet, after settling a separate £6.6million debt to French socialite Isabelle de Rouvre, 74, who he purchased the property from in 2014.
But the process appears to have stalled because the chalet is ‘under sequestration’ as a result of the alleged debt. The chalet was frozen as an asset by Swiss authorities on December 15, 2020 according to Le Temps newspaper.
Sources close to Prince Andrew previously told MailOnline that the dispute will not prevent the property’s sale, and that while the Duke ‘did not deny owing the money’ to the couple he was ‘questioning the amount’.
The source said: ‘This has nothing to do with the original purchase of the chalet, it’s a completely separate business transaction between the couple and the Duke.
‘It shouldn’t affect the sale of the property despite what the Swiss media says and is expected to go through as planned.
‘Talks are underway to resolve the matter, which are expected to be concluded satisfactorily for all parties.’
One source told the Sun the new Mayfair home is ‘picturesque’ and in ‘one of the very smartest areas of London’ (Stock image of Mayfair in central London)
Prince Andrew has not been to the chalet in Verbier for several years, but his ex-wife Sarah and two daughters Beatrice and Eugenie spent the New Year in the luxury property with their families.
He stepped back as a senior royal in May 2020 after allegations emerged over his relationship with the disgraced sex abuser Jeffrey Epstein.
A high profile court case in which Virginia Guiffre, a victim of Epstein’s, accused the Duke of York of sexual abuse was settled out of court in March of this year.
The total settlement is believed to be around £12 million, and includes Ms Guiffre’s legal bills and an unspecified amount to a charity of Ms Guiffre’s choice.
He did not accept any liability when he made the settlement and vehemently denies the claims.