Inside London’s Billionaires Row: A Russian financier’s home was hit by one of the city’s most lucrative burglaries then ravaged by fire

A fire tears through No.23 The Bishops Avenue in 2012. Supplied

Exactly halfway along The Bishops Avenue lies a fairly unremarkable red brick house, one which cost financier Iouri Chliaifchtein £3 million ($US4 million) in the late 1990s.

Multi-millionaire Chliaifchtein, director of private wealth management company Telora Ltd, also owned an £18 million apartment in the central Belgravia district, and was well-known in the 2000s as one of London’s most successful asset managers.

While Chliaifchtein succeeded in accruing wealth, his family’s home was the victim of one of London’s most expensive burglaries.

23 the bishops avenue
23, The Bishops Avenue. INSIDER/Bill Bostock

In 2006, two men were sentenced atHarrow Crown Court for stealing £2 million ($US2.6 million) in cars, jewellery, and possessions while the Chliaifchtein family was holidaying in Ecuador.

23-year-old Gerrard O’Leary and an unnamed 15-year-old accomplice smashed their way into No.23 with a garden spade, and stole a safe containing £1.6 million ($US2 million) of jewellery and £100,000 ($US125,000) in foreign currencies.

23 Bish av
The windows on the exposed side of No. 23 are blurred out on Google Maps (Google allows your home, car, and licence plates to be pixelated without explanation.) Google Maps

O’Leary and his accomplice then proceeded to steal and speed off in a £350,000 ($US437,000) Mercedes McLaren and a £50,000 ($US62,000) Lexus.

The burglars left a Ferrari and second Lexus behind. None of the stolen items were ever recovered.

Gerrard O'Leary Billionaires Row Iouri iouri chliaifchtein
Gerrard O’Leary was charged with stealing £2 million in possessions from Iouri Chliaifchtein. MET Police

The Bishops Avenue, given its tight concentration of luxury, has always been a target for thieves, and was once known as The Burglars’ Avenue. The Chliaifchtein home has been burgled at least once more since.

The homestead was ravaged again in 2012. This time the roof collapsed when a fire ripped through the property in the early hours of the morning.

NO 23 the bishops avenue
No. 23 The Bishops Avenue. INSIDER/Bill Bostock

Three family members escaped unharmed, but it took several hours and 40 firefighters to extinguish the blaze.

Chliaifchtein was in the headlines a second time, this time at his second London property, a luxury apartment in Belgravia.

In 2017 he sued the apartment block’s owner, 3-10 Grosvenor Crescent Management Ltd, for laying off concierge staff in April 2015.

3-10 Grosvenor Crescent
3-10 Grosvenor Crescent. Grosvenor Pacific

Chliaifchtein was furious with the sackings, telling a judge at length that this meant nobody was around to drive his car to and from the garage, and that his fishmonger was unable to deliver on at least two occasions.

Chliaifchtein was also the director of the company he sued.

Chliaifchtein cut his loses with No. 23 after the fire and the two break-ins.

He sold it to Gopal Krishnan Gupta, the joint secretary of India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, and his wife Meena, a solicitor, for £4 million ($US5 million) in March 2019.