Con's home fetches R17m

Constantia's aspiring classes turned up to poke around the belongings of the runaway Baroness Aleksandra von Maltzan and to see if bargains may be had at the auction held to help pay off the debts she left behind.

She fled the country owing more than R45-million and abandoned her vehicle at the airport on the way out.

The 50-year-old socialite and her husband had lived high off the hog in her mansion at the head of Rhodes Drive near Constantia Nek, but she had lived at other people's expense.

So the gossiping circle of Cape Town's Southern Suburbs watched as her house — with its spectacular views, its swimming pool, seven bathrooms and 1200 square metres of living space under the roof — was knocked down for the bargain price of R13-million.

The vacant stand next door went for another R4-million. Altogether, as the auctioneer Rael Levitt pointed out, 17 hectares of prime residential property went for R17-million.

Before the auction began the staff of the auctioneers, the Alliance Group, estimated that the two stands and house would fetch between R20-million and R25-million.

The stand with the house on it went to a buyer in the United Kingdom, following things closely on the telephone. The other stand also went to an overseas buyer, this time from Italy.

Then the sellers got stuck into the contents of the house, with some heavily teutonic style marble topped tables on eagle stands fetching R8000 and R9000 and some imposing French commodes fetching as much as R23 000.

It was interesting to see what the disappearing aristocrats had left behind — not much of real quality. The jewelry was pretty much cleaned out leaving 13 Swatch watches and seven Gucci handbags. Some of the chairs were worn and comfortable while others were of a kind that would not look out of place in a hotel corridor.

Among the books was a bible reckoned to be 200 years old. But the rest were divided up between coffee-table style works and leather bound versions of Dickens, Scott and Lord Eldon and such, bought by the yard to make a room look lived in.

The coffee table books included works on English settlers and, appropriately, on Luxury Hotels of the World. Dancing with the Devil was also there.

There were some other ironies too. The kitchen had a set of breakfast cups labeled 'Important Person'. There were remains of a smart Crown Derby Imari tea service, its cracks neatly repaired.

The videos to be shown on a baronial sized television screen included 'African Queen'.

I-Net Bridge

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