A few weeks ago I suggested on this page that anyone keen to spend £40m-plus on a house had missed the boat with the sale of Park Place to a Russian buyer for £140m last month. It seems I was wrong. That ship may have sailed, but there's now something even better for the nation's super-rich to consider. Yes, Michael Winner is selling up: his Holland Park home is on the market for £60m, says Jan Moir in the Daily Mail. For that you get 47 rooms; the home cinema in which "Warren Beatty once snogged Michelle Phillips, the Mamas and Papas singer"; the three-quarter-acre garden where a brass band played Happy Birthday to Jane Seymour when she was dating Winner; a Jacuzzi and a steam room; an underground swimming pool; and a whole lot of slightly bonkers-looking light fittings. Country Life says there are 2,000 bulbs while the Daily Mail goes for 3,400, but either way it means someone (not Winner, obviously) must spend a lot of time up ladders changing them.
There's currently a tremendous shortage of supply of big houses in prime central London: last quarter a mere 1,342 properties changed hands, 27% fewer than usual. That suggests that, while he might not get his full £60m, Winner should be able to shift his childhood home relatively quickly. The question now is just what the publicity-hungry old boy will do with the cash. He is engaged (he has never been married before), so he could spend up on the wedding. Petra Ecclestone's dad is dropping around £1.5m on her big day at 15th-century Odescalchi Castle just outside Rome this week. But given that he is marrying a rather younger woman (Geraldine Lynton-Davies), who he says is behind the house sale, there has to be speculation that he might want to spend a little on preserving his youthful looks.
How? The (many, many) pictures of him on the beach at the Sandy Lane hotel in Barbados show him with a slight paunch. I wonder if we might be the first to suggest a bit of abdominal contouring? I know this sounds slightly nuts, but it won't for long: it's all the rage in Australia where, according to Big Brother contestant and paparazzo and media entrepreneur Darryn Lyons, getting fake abs will soon be as common place for men as breast augmentation for women. So how does it work? A bit like liposuction. Fat is sucked out of the torso around the abdominal muscles via a small hollow tube to make it look like you have toned abs, however fat and flabby the rest of you is (Lyons is no skinny malinky).
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Lyons not only owns a large stake in the firm that provides the surgery, but has had it himself. He clearly likes it. But not everyone thinks it looks as good as he does. The Daily Mail's verdict? The whole thing is "hypnotically awful". Still, that hasn't stopped Kerry Katona no stranger to cosmetic surgery herself announcing that as soon as she's released from the Big Brother house she intends to get herself a similar set of abs. Both she and Winner should be able to afford it. According to the Daily Mail, it costs around £4,000 so the equivalent of a few nights at Sandy Lane. A drop in the ocean.
Tabloid money send job-seekers to Coventry
A recent report found that most British employers prefer to employ foreign workers, says Tony Parsons in the Daily Mirror. Bosses reckon they have "more skills" and "a more positive attitude". It comes as no surprise. There are now nearly one million young Neets' those not in education, employment or training in Britain. That's an "obscene waste of young lives that nobody has any use for". But it's not their fault. We've let our schools rot and the fact is "you will get a far better state education in Warsaw than you will in London".
U2 frontman Bono must be one of the world's most irritating people, says Jason Cowley in the Daily Mirror. He preaches and postures about the global poor while using accounting tricks to ensure he pays the lowest tax possible. He's not alone; across the world the rich pay less tax than the working and middle classes. Research has shown that the most unequal societies, like Britain and America, are the most unhappy, so why don't we get the mega-rich to pay their share? It's time to close tax loopholes and introduce a wealth tax that would hit property, land, inheritance and assets.
The fire at multimillionaire Richard Branson's house showed that there are more important things than money, says Lorraine Kelly in The Sun. When Branson realised his loved ones had escaped the blaze at his tropical paradise, he declared: "All that matters is the people you love. Everything else is just stuff."
Many congratulations to Coventry, says Peter Hill in the Daily Express. The city has more than 10,000 unemployed citizens, but when a local firm advertised for 20 staff, it only received two applications. The company, which sells security systems, says that its workers earn up to £400 a week with commission. But that "clearly isn't enough to attract job-seekers who are more than content to get by on benefits".
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