2 JON HUNT
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.