A price of £750,000 was agreed and the building was later demolished and a new office block built on the site in 1924.
Fast forward nearly 90 years to late 2013 and that office block, also called Devonshire House, W1, was snapped up in a £410m deal.
The connection with the cream of the British aristocracy had long gone for the new owner was born on decidedly the wrong side of the tracks.
The total wealth of our 250 tycoons in this year’s list has risen to £218.3bn.That represents about the same as the total income tax collected by the Inland Revenue this year with about half the National Insurance receipts thrown in too.This year’s total is some 35% up on last year, reflecting that influx of the foreign London-owning billionaires into our rankings.Our bottom line is now a “mere” £100m (up from £83m last year) while the total number of billionaires is up from 29 to 37.It is also very meritocratic list: only 60 of the 250 inherited their wealth. Devonshire House in Piccadilly was the London residence of the Dukes of Devonshire in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Built for the third duke in the Palladian style, it was completed around 1740.Around 180 years later the ninth duke had to sell up facing death duties and the gambling debts of the seventh duke. The richest 250 in the UK property world is now a roll call of some of the wealthiest tycoons on the planet, such is their appetite for London’s prestige sites.In one week recently, the Gherkin was sold to a Brazilian billionaire for £726m while Canary Wharf is again in play, which will make its foreign billionaire owners even richer.Our new number one is the low-key Spanish founder of the Zara fashion chain, Amancio Ortega, spending at least part of his £35.7bn fortune on London assets.Such has been the influx of European and Asian wealth into this London property market that the Duke of Westminster (our regular number one until two years ago) can only make it into the 2014 rankings at number seven with his £8.4bn fortune.