The world’s biggest land predator is on the verge of becoming a billionaire after the sale of its last real estate assets.
Rex, a 6,700-square-foot condominium at the heart of the iconic Kensington Palace in London, is selling for $1,541 million to a private investor, which means it could fetch $1 billion.
That figure is a far cry from the estimated $2.5bn price tag of a deal announced in May that would see it become a global icon.
The auction will see the former hotel, which was part of the former royal family, become the first of its kind to fetch more than $1bn.
The building is believed to be worth more than £1.7bn, which would put it in the top 10 highest-priced residential properties in the world, according to data from Real Estate Board of Greater London (REBGL).
The property has been used as a luxury hotel by the royal family since the 1970s, when the then-prime minister Tony Blair and his wife, Kate, had it built in a private estate in Buckinghamshire.
Kate was prime minister from 2005 to 2010, when she was knighted for her part in building the palace.
The palace is known for its royal architecture and is the subject of two films, one of which was made in 2018, which starred James Franco, the actor who played the royal couple in The Princess Diaries.
The Kensington palace is in the midst of a major restoration and renovation project, including the creation of a “Queen of the World”-style “Grand Hyatt” with luxury suites and an auditorium, among other changes.
The price tag includes a private security firm, security consultants and a marketing agency that will sell the property, according a REBGL spokesperson.
It is expected to sell for between $1 million and $1m.
The purchase will come as a relief to Kensington property magnate Sir Richard Branson, who has been a big booster of the building’s future.
Branson, the founder of Virgin, said in a statement that the sale was a great day for the Kensington area and for all the families who worked so hard to build it.
The billionaire is hoping to take advantage of the fact that the property is owned by the Queen of England, as the building will no longer be a home to the royal household.
The Queen of the Throne, who was first crowned in 1858, will not be living in the Kenson palace.
She is due to retire in 2020 and is due in the UK next month to spend a month visiting a private Caribbean island.