Atlasssian co-founder Scott Farquhar has set a new record for Australia’s most expensive house, buying the 1863 mansion Elaine in Sydney’s Point Piper.
The sale is ripe with symbolism for a changing of the guard between the old and new business dynasties. Elaine has been owned by the Fairfax family since 1891. The house was on the market at $75 million after John B Fairfax decided to sell the family property in 2013.
Four generations of the Fairfax media family called it home, but the property has been rented out for the last 20 years. The historic residence spans 6,986 square metres, and has seven bedrooms and seven bathrooms, a grass tennis court and ballroom.
After the Fairfax family lost control of its media empire in the 1990s, John B Fairfax went on to found Rural Press, which he then sold to the company bearing his family name in 2006 in what subsequently became a reverse takeover of Fairfax. He sold off his 9.7% stake in Fairfax Media in 2011.
Farquhar, who is in Barcelona this week for the annual Atlasssian summit, is now a billionaire after floating the company he started 15 years ago with Mike Cannon-Brookes on the Nasdaq in 2015. Atlasssian’s market capitalisation is now around $10 billion.
The purchase rescues the historic property from JB Fairfax’s plan to build three luxury waterfront houses in Elaine’s gardens. After the property was subdivided into six lots 1996, the businessmen gained development approval for the new housing in 2015, saying he’d been unable to find a buyer for Australia’s most expensive house.
Farquhar confirmed his purchase to Fairfax’s real estate site, Domain, on the weekend, saying he was honoured to be the new owner.
“It would have been a great loss to see this rare property sold to developers and carved up,” he told Domain.
“When we heard of the plans, we just couldn’t let this beautiful piece of Australian history be turned into a development site.
“There is a certain nostalgia in knowing that multiple generations of an iconic Australian family have grown up on these lawns and we very much look forward to raising our family here.”
Ken Jacobs, of Christie’s International, handled the sale and at this point the purchase price is unknown.
Farquhar, 37, still lives in the Pyrmont apartment he bought in 2006 with his wife Kim Jackson.
The sale beats the 2015 record set when James Packer sold La Mer in Vaucluse for $70 million to Dr Chau Chak Wing, following the end of his marriage to Erica Baxter.
Here’s a closer look inside the exclusive residence:
Fairfax announced his decision to sell the property in September 2013 after it had been left vacant for many years.
George Fairfax and his wife, Lena, moved into the Victorian style mansion in 1891 when it was still known as 'Elaine'.
Since then, the estate has been host to a number of events and gatherings which have seen to high profile guests including politicians, businessmen, sportsmen, entertainers and dignitaries.
'It was a very special site on Sydney Harbour, a beautiful, generous site. And the house was really arranged to be a sort of hub for Sydney society,' said architect Howard Tanner.
The residence has seven bedrooms and seven bathrooms and even features its own ballroom and grass tennis court.
The asking price of $80 million makes it the most expensive home in Australia, surpassing the sale record of $70 million for La Mer.
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