An Indian-born business tycoon has spent a whopping 50 million pounds to transform a decaying townhouse into a mega mansion in the heart of London. Prakash Lohia, whose fortune is estimated at almost 2 billion pounds, recruited a small army of historians, designers and craftsmen to restore the historic Georgian property in the posh Mayfair area.
The charm of creating a lavish family home seems to run in the family for Lohia, who is married to the younger sister of Indian-born steel baron Lakshmi N Mittal, among the richest men in the world. Like his brother-in-law, the chief of the firm Indorama the world's largest producer of polyester made his money in Indonesia where he has citizenship.
Indorama's operations have since expanded to Africa, Europe and North America. According to a report in 'The Sunday Times', Lohia's son Amit is also believed to be looking for a grand London property. Lohia's own new Mayfair residence, Sheridan House, was built in 1770 as a home for General John Burgoyne, who is blamed for helping Britain lose its US colonies after a disastrous military campaign during the American War of Independence.
In the last century the property was used as offices, but by the time it was bought for Lohia in 2008 it had fallen into disrepair and was on English Heritage's register of properties at risk. Lohia and his wife have spent nearly five years turning back the clock and reviving its 18th-century opulence. "With some of the grandest interiors in the capital, it has now been restored and removed from our at-risk register," Timothy Jones, English Heritage's principal inspector in London, told the newspaper.
The terraced home has a newly laid hall in Italian marble and rooms for entertaining with mahogany floors and intricate border details. As well as two reception rooms with period furniture, the property has a music room and dining room that seats 16 guests. The newly-excavated basement has a gym, spa, sauna and staff quarters.
Lohia has also built a mews house at the back with its own conference facilities. Below it is a garage containing his car collection, including a Bentley and Rolls-Royce. Lohia is not the first Indian to restore one of London's architectural gems. The billionaire Hinduja brothers have spent 100 million pounds transforming four adjoining historic properties near Buckingham Palace into a family home a few years ago.