Cape's top house a snip at R60m

Indian liquor baron and Formula One team owner Dr Vijay Mallya has splashed out R60-million for a Cape Town mansion in which Hollywood star Nicolas Cage once slept on embroidered pillows.

The flamboyant 54-year-old chairman of United Breweries Group and Kingfisher Airlines - named after United Breweries's trademark Kingfisher beer - has an estimated fortune of $1.45-billion and was ranked the 44th richest person in India by in September.

The billionaire owns the Formula One team, Force India, and Indian Premier League cricket team, Royal Challengers Bangalore, coached by South African Ray Jennings.

His South African assets include the Mabula Game Lodge and the ultra-luxurious Imbali Safari Lodge in the Kruger National Park, as well as a swanky Cape Town hotel.

His taste for fast cars, yachts, race horses, jets, game lodges and general opulence is well documented.

And now, his latest luxury pad is a four-storey villa with a glass elevator and porcelain tiles imported from Italy at R2500/m².

The mansion, which was advertised by local estate agents as "the best house in Cape Town", is perched on Nettleton Road and has sweeping views of Clifton beach.

The road boasts some of the most expensive real estate in South Africa. IT businessman Leo Baxter is demolishing a mansion he bought there for R32-million two years ago. Homes in the road have sold for R30 to R40 million this year.

Mallya's new house was initially on the market for R80-million but its former owner, British screenwriter and film producer Mike Jefferies, settled for R60-million.

Denise Dogon, chief executive of the Dogon Group estate agency, which brokered the deal, declined to comment. "I really cannot comment on the buyer due to client confidentiality."

She said R60-million was a record price for the Atlantic seaboard area.

The mansion - which boasts a sauna, walk-in safe, gym, and garage space for four cars - has hosted movie stars, singers and royalty.

Prince Carl Philip of Sweden - the dashing son of King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia - stayed there during the 2010 Fifa World Cup, hosting lavish parties on its patio, which flanks a 25m-long infinity pool.

Singer George Michael lived there last year while preparing material for a new album and, six years ago, Cage and his third wife, former sushi waitress, Alice Kim, stayed there for nine weeks while he filmed Lord of War.

This week, former property rental agent Will Mellor recalled how Cage did not once remove his sunglasses when first showed around the place.

"Nic wore his shades all the way through while I showed him the house. He was quiet (and) never said a word except at the very end."

Mellor said Cage had special white cotton pillow cases (embellished with the couple's embroidered initials) brought into the main bedroom, which overlooks the beach far below.

"The main bedroom on the top level has an amazing penthouse feel," said Stefan Antoni, the area's in-vogue architect and the designer of the mansion.

"The key thing here is position. I would say Nettleton Road is the number one address in the whole of South Africa. The views of Clifton, the sunsets and the fact that it's shielded from the wind - it all adds up to make the place exceptional."

Mallya and his second wife, Rekha, were spotted at the Cape Milner Hotel in Tamboerskloof during the Indian Premier League season last year. The businessman bought the hotel 10 years ago and has been a frequent visitor to the city ever since.

Staff described him as discreet, saying he never ordered from the hotel's menu, preferring his personal assistants to confer with chefs over his dietary requirements - which usually involved seafood and curry.

Mallya's South African representatives failed to respond to queries this week'

Article by: BIÉNNE HUISMAN -