Essex Life - - RICHEST 50 -

Es­tate Agency and Prop­erty 2018: £1,250m 2017: £1,250m (1st)

Colch­ester-born Jon Hunt last year won a 10-year bat­tle to build a base­ment ex­ten­sion un­der his Kens­ing­ton home. The French em­bassy ob­jected to the plans, even claim­ing that the ex­ca­va­tion rep­re­sented a breach of the 1961 Vi­enna Con­ven­tion by dis­turb­ing the peace of their diplo­matic mis­sion. The three-story base­ment will ac­com­mo­date a ten­nis court, swim­ming pool and space for some of Hunt’s im­pres­sive car col­lec­tion. It may also en­hance the value of the prop­erty, per­haps to as much as £100m. Hunt though does know a thing or two about prop­erty as the former owner of the Fox­tons es­tate agency group. From an Army fam­ily he was awarded a sports schol­ar­ship to Mill­field board­ing school. He left after O Lev­els to join the Army, pass­ing ba­sic train­ing for the Royal Ar­tillery, where his fa­ther had been a colonel. After leav­ing the Army, and fol­low­ing a short spell wash­ing cars in Ottawa in Canada, Hunt re­turned to the UK in 1972 and spent the next eight years work­ing as an es­tate agent in Sur­rey. Hunt’s prop­erty ca­reer be­gan at age 19 when he bor­rowed a £100 de­posit to buy a one-bed­room con­ver­sion flat in Walton Road, Wok­ing for £4,500. In 1981 Hunt, then aged 28, co-founded Fox­tons. The com­pany took its name from a vil­lage near Hunt’s Suf­folk home. The firm’s of­fice in Lon­don’s Not­ting Hill Gate neigh­bour­hood dis­tin­guished it­self from com­pet­ing es­tate agents by open­ing a then un­usual 74 hours a week, in­clud­ing week­end and evening hours, rather than the con­ven­tional 40 hours worked by ri­val es­tate agents. Fox­tons ex­panded to other Lon­don dis­tricts, each new branch of­fer­ing a 0% com­mis­sion in its first three months of op­er­a­tion to at­tract cus­tomer. Hunt sold up at the height of the boom for £375m in early 2007. After the sale of Fox­tons, Hunt made sub­stan­tial com­mer­cial prop­erty in­vest­ments in Cen­tral Lon­don at the bot­tom of the mar­ket in 2008. As well as com­mer­cial prop­erty, Hunt has been ac­tive in res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment too in Cen­tral Lon­don. He turned down an un­so­licited of­fer for his seven-storey town­house in Kens­ing­ton Palace Gar­dens in 2008, re­put­edly for £200m. Hunt is now dip­ping his toe into new waters, a lux­ury ser­viced–of­fice business called Dry­land. His other as­sets in­clude a car col­lec­tion and the Suf­folk es­tate Hevening­ham Hall, which he is turn­ing into a lux­ury hol­i­day re­sort and restor­ing the grounds to their orig­i­nal Ca­pa­bil­ity Brown-de­sign splen­dour. In 2010 he launched Bac­chus Part­ners, hop­ing to snap up derelict prop­er­ties across the south­east and east of Eng­land, then turn them into hous­ing. With a com­mer­cial prop­erty port­fo­lio worth at least £600m and the swiftly ap­pre­ci­at­ing clas­sic car col­lec­tion, Hunt is worth £1.25bn. In 2012 he sold a 1963 Fer­rari 250 GT for around £20m.

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