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Mayfair, London Home Of Le Mans-Winning Playboy Racing Driver & ‘Bentley Boy’ Bernard Rubin Sells For A Record £16Million

A glamorous five-bed apartment that once belonged to a playboy racing driver who was part of the legendary ‘Bentley Boys’ has sold for an eye-watering £16.1 million, making it one of the biggest sales in London this year.

The first-floor flat at 49 Grosvenor Square in Mayfair, London overlooks the luxury Connaught Hotel and was the home of Le Mans race driver Bernard Rubin in the 1920s.

Estate agents Wetherell, which oversaw the deal to sell the palatial apartment, says it is the biggest property transaction in Mayfair in two years and almost certainly one of the biggest sales to go through in the capital in 2023.

Rubin was a Le Mans winner, taking home the trophy alongside Woolf ‘Babe’ Barnato in 1928 in a Bentley racing car.

His exploits, alongside a gaggle of other drivers loyal to the British marque, led to them being branded the ‘Bentley Boys’.

The lateral apartment takes up 4,100 square feet of the first floor at 49 Grosvenor Square, overlooking the Connaught Hotel. It sits in the heart of Mayfair
The lateral apartment takes up 4,100 square feet of the first floor at 49 Grosvenor Square, overlooking the Connaught Hotel. It sits in the heart of Mayfair
Entering the apartment, with its all-mirror corridor, immediately makes clear it is a space of opulence and luxury. The block was first built in the 1920s
Entering the apartment, with its all-mirror corridor, immediately makes clear it is a space of opulence and luxury. The block was first built in the 1920s
The apartment's living area boasts huge sash windows offering views onto the hotel across the street. Estate agents Wetherell say it is the biggest sale in Mayfair in two years
The apartment’s living area boasts huge sash windows offering views onto the hotel across the street. Estate agents Wetherell say it is the biggest sale in Mayfair in two years
A study towards the rear of the property, adjoining the reception room, is a standout feature. It has wall-to-wall wood panelling and, like the rest of the dwelling, three metre high ceilings
A study towards the rear of the property, adjoining the reception room, is a standout feature. It has wall-to-wall wood panelling and, like the rest of the dwelling, three metre high ceilings

Rubin and fellow Bentley Boys Glen Kidston, Tim Berkin and Le Mans teammate Barnato lived in the complex at 49-50 Grosvenor Square, and were known to park their distinctive green motors nearby.

They were so well known for racing around the area that the south-east corner of Grosvenor Square became known by cab drivers as ‘Bentley Corner’ – even though the cars were normally parked in nearby Carlos Place or Mount Street.

Aside from its history look inside makes it clear why the flat was so attractive to its new owner.

Measuring 4,100 square feet, the dwelling boasts an opulent, 34ft wide reception room with five huge sash windows offering views of the Connaught Hotel and Mount Street.

Rubin is likely to have entertained guests, and his fellow racing drivers, in the luxury confines of the reception – making use of the adjoining cocktail bar to host glamorous parties.

A large dining room is focused on a feature fireplace, and the principal bedroom suite has built-in wardrobes, a large en-suite bathroom with dual sinks, a walk-in shower and a standalone bath.

There are three other dedicated bedrooms, and a dressing room that can be repurposed as a fifth bedroom.

Bernard Rubin (left) pictured with fellow Bentley Boys Woolf 'Babe' Barnato (centre) and Henry Burkin (behind the wheel). Rubin bought the apartment in 1926 and likely entertained guests in the reception room and adjoining cocktail bar
Bernard Rubin (left) pictured with fellow Bentley Boys Woolf ‘Babe’ Barnato (centre) and Henry Burkin (behind the wheel). Rubin bought the apartment in 1926 and likely entertained guests in the reception room and adjoining cocktail bar
Rubin (pictured in the car, right) won the 1928 Le Mans endurance race in a Bentley racing car alongside Woolf Barnato (pictured in the car, left). He and his fellow Bentley Boys' propensity for whaling about in their dark green motors led to cabbies nicknaming the south-eastern edge of Grosvenor Square 'Bentley Corner'
Rubin (pictured in the car, right) won the 1928 Le Mans endurance race in a Bentley racing car alongside Woolf Barnato (pictured in the car, left). He and his fellow Bentley Boys’ propensity for whaling about in their dark green motors led to cabbies nicknaming the south-eastern edge of Grosvenor Square ‘Bentley Corner’
The Bentley Boys are credited with keeping the company going when it was in dire financial straits in the 1920s. Their cars were always painted in dark green, the international racing colour of the UK – now known as British Racing Green
The Bentley Boys are credited with keeping the company going when it was in dire financial straits in the 1920s. Their cars were always painted in dark green, the international racing colour of the UK – now known as British Racing Green

And just off of the reception hall is an ornate wood-panelled study. If that wasn’t enough, there are three dedicated storage rooms on a lower ground floor.

Across the apartment, the ceilings are three metres from the ground – lending it a spectacularly airy feel.

‘Always ready for a race, or a glass of champagne’: Who were the Bentley Boys?

The ‘Bentley Boys’ were a group of playboy motoring enthusiasts from the 1920s who used their vast wealth to race Bentley cars across the world.

They notched up five wins in the legendary Le Mans 24 hour race between 1924 and 1930 – each and every one in a Bentley motor.

Bentley itself describes the group of daredevils as being ‘always ready for a race, a challenge or a glass of champagne’.

Among their number was:

  • Woolf ‘Babe’ Barnato, who invested thousands in the company when it faced financial ruin
  • Bernard Rubin, who won Le Mans alongside Barnato in 1928
  • Sir Henry ‘Tiger Tim’ Birkin, who set a speed record of 137mph in 1931
  • Glen Kidston, who won Le Mans in 1930 alongside Barnato
  • DJ ‘Benjy’ Benjafield, who won Le Mans in 1927 alongside fellow Brit Sammy Davis despite a huge crash

Source: Bentley

The apartment is likely to have seen lairy parties thrown by Rubin and his fellow Bentley Boys, who also snapped up properties within the block.

Bentley itself maintains to this day that the parties would last for days, and would be ‘legendary’.

Their exploits in the distinctive dark green racing cars – in a shade now known across the world as British Racing Green – are credited with keeping the company alive when it was in dire financial straits.

The Bentley Boys’ fame even inspired Harry Craddock, a barman at the Savoy Hotel on the Strand, to create The Bentley Cocktail – made with calvados (apple brandy), Dubonnet Rouge and orange bitters.

Bernard Rubin was born in Australia but moved to London in 1908 with his family, After his pearl-trader father died, he inherited a vast fortune and turned his attention to motor racing.

After winning the gruelling 24 hour race in France in 1927, he returned in another Bentley the next year, but the car failed after just seven laps.

However, he continued motor racing for a time after this, and completed a flight to Australia in a tiny Leopard Moth airplane in the 1930s. He died of tuberculosis in 1936.

The sale is the first time the Grosvenor Square property has come onto the market for over 30 years, and has been purchased by a British buyer who intends to use it as a family home.

A number of serious bids were considered, including from people who already live in the London hotspot.

Peter Wetherell, founder and executive chairman of the estate agent, said: ‘This outstanding sale of the former Grosvenor Square residence of ‘Bentley Boy’ racing driver Bernard Rubin is the biggest apartment deal in Mayfair in the last two years.

‘The sale is also one of the biggest property deals for a flat in London this year. This exceptionally large and rare first floor apartment overlooks Carlos Place and The Connaught Hotel where Rubin loved to dine and party with the other ‘Bentley Boy’ racing drivers, four of whom owned apartments in the same complex.’

The master bedroom sits just off the entrance to the apartment. Out of shot are three built-in wardrobes – and across the corridor is a dressing room with four further closets
The master bedroom sits just off the entrance to the apartment. Out of shot are three built-in wardrobes – and across the corridor is a dressing room with four further closets
The master bedroom's en-suite has two sinks, a walk-in shower, and a standalone bath.  A blind atop the huge, airy window gives the option of more privacy
The master bedroom’s en-suite has two sinks, a walk-in shower, and a standalone bath. A blind atop the huge, airy window gives the option of more privacy
Visitors to 49 Grosvenor Square will not go thirsty. A dedicated cocktail bar sits just off the reception room, with plenty of refreshments for even the most demanding of parties
Visitors to 49 Grosvenor Square will not go thirsty. A dedicated cocktail bar sits just off the reception room, with plenty of refreshments for even the most demanding of parties
The dining room, at the very rear of the property, has further sash windows looking out onto Mayfair. A feature fireplace at the top of the room completes the look
The dining room, at the very rear of the property, has further sash windows looking out onto Mayfair. A feature fireplace at the top of the room completes the look

He added: ‘With its ‘Bentley Boy’ history, high ceilings and Connaught views this trophy property is one of the finest lateral apartments in Mayfair.’

This isn’t the first time the legacy of the Bentley Boys has sprinkled some magic on London’s property market.

In 2015, a 6,200 square foot home sold elsewhere in Mayfair for £24 million – having been converted from a garage once used by the Bentley Boys to store and maintain their cars.

And a racing car made by the British marque, once raced to a speed record by fellow Bentley Boy Sir Henry ‘Tiger Tim’ Birkin, became one of the most valuable UK cars ever when it sold at auction for £5 million in 2012.


Culture

Assessing Property Size: What Square Footage Can You Get With The Average UK House Price In Your Area?

Assessing Property Size In The UK

In the United Kingdom, there is a prevailing tendency to gauge the size of residences based on the number of bedrooms rather than square footage. In fact, research indicates that three out of five individuals are unaware of the square footage of their property.

However, a comprehensive analysis conducted by Savills reveals significant variations in property sizes throughout the country. For instance, with the average property price standing at £340,837, this amount would typically afford a studio flat spanning 551 square feet in London, according to the prominent estate agency.

Conversely, in the North East region, the same sum would secure a spacious five-bedroom house measuring 1,955 square feet, nearly four times the size of a comparable property in London.

Best value: Heading to the North East of England is where buyers will get the most from their money

In Scotland, the median house price equates to a sizable investment capable of procuring a generous four-bedroom residence spanning 1,743 square feet. Conversely, in Wales, Yorkshire & The Humber, and the North West, this sum affords a slightly smaller four-bedroom dwelling of approximately 1,500 square feet, while in the East and West Midlands, it accommodates a 1,300 square foot home. In stark contrast, within the South West, £340,837 secures a modest 1,000 square foot property, and in the East, an even more confined 928 square feet.

London presents the most challenging market, where this budget offers the least purchasing power. Following closely, the South East allows for 825 square feet of space or a medium-sized two-bedroom dwelling. Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, emphasizes the profound disparity in purchasing potential across Britain, ranging from compact studio flats in London to spacious four or five-bedroom residences in parts of North East England.

While square footage serves as a critical metric, with a significant portion of Britons unfamiliar with their property’s dimensions, the number of bedrooms remains a traditional indicator of size. Personal preferences, such as a preference for larger kitchens, may influence property selection. For those prioritizing ample space, Easington, County Durham, offers a substantial 2,858 square foot, five-bedroom home, while Rhondda, Wales, and Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Scotland, provide 2,625 and 2,551 square feet, respectively. Conversely, in St Albans, Hertfordshire, £340,837 secures a mere 547 square feet, equivalent to a one-bedroom flat.

The disparity continues in central London, where purchasing power diminishes considerably. In Kensington, the budget accommodates a mere 220 square feet, contrasting with the slightly more spacious 236 square feet in Westminster. Conversely, in Dagenham, the same investment translates to 770 square feet. Three properties currently listed on Rightmove exemplify the diversity within this price range across the UK market.

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

2. Lewisham: One-bed house, £345,000

This one-bedroom property in Lewisham, South London, is on the market for £345,000.

The semi-detached house is set over two floors, and has a private patio.

The property is located near to bus links and amenities, as well as Catford train station.

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

3. Edinburgh: Three-bed house, £350,000

This three-bedroom detached house in Edinburgh could be yours for £350,000.

The house, which has a two-car driveway, boasts a large kitchen diner, and is within easy reach of Newcriaghall train station.


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Culture

Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.


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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.


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