Billionaire Alki David loses his wife - and £13m home in the suburbs
Last updated at 3:27 PM on 28th September 2009
Shipping heir and actor Alki David is hoping to sell his Hampstead 'mistake' - to buy a mansion in Hollywood.
MOVING ON: Alki David with wife Emma. They have separated after five years together
Actor, producer and entrepreneur Alki David's most recent film was The Bank Job, last year's British gangster thriller based on the true story of the 1971 Baker Street bank robbery.
Alki played a bank-vault expert hired by Jason Statham's debt-ridden character to burrow under the street and burn through the steel doors.
In real life Alki, 41, is the billionaire heir to a shipping and bottle-plant fortune and is ranked No 40 on The Rich List.
He divides his time between a Greek mansion, a ski lodge in Gstaad, Switzerland, and three multi-million-pound homes he owns in Belgravia, Knightsbridge and Hampstead.
Last summer he bought a seven-bedroom property in Hampstead for £12.5million - but now he wants to sell, as soon as he has persuaded his second wife Emma, 30, to leave.
The couple, who had been together for five years, have decided to divorce after two years of marriage.
'We seem to have grown apart,' says Alki. 'It's better to face the truth than struggle on regardless, so we separated.
'It was a mistake buying that property,' he adds. 'I went along with
Emma's idea of moving to the suburbs' - a description of Hampstead that
would leave most wealthy locals aghast - 'but a few weeks after we
arrived, I realised I didn't want to live there.'
SELLING UP: The house in Hampstead will go on the market once the terms of the Davids' divorce are agreed
After moving in this April, Alki planned to renovate then sell his home in Belgravia. But now he will move back to the £4 million property when the £800,000 improvements are complete.
Work includes knocking out walls to open up reception space, installing stairs to create a two-storey master suite and extending at the back, to make a first-floor terrace and library. For now, he is living in a two-bedroom investment flat in Knightsbridge bought two years ago for £1.8million.
The couple have children from previous marriages - Emma has a nine-year-old daughter and Alki has two sons, aged 15 and 12 - but none together, so he is relying on a prenuptial agreement to protect his vast fortune.
'It's not going to be easy,' he says. 'But I am good friends with my first wife and I hope Emma and I can remain friends as well. As part of the settlement, I will give her the flat where I am living now.'
After splitting up with Emma, he spent a couple of months in California contemplating his future. He returned to London in July with plans to expand his latest venture, online media company FilmOn, into America.
'Property prices in California are at rock bottom,' he says.
'You can buy what used to be a $20million home in Beverley Hills for just $8 million - prices can't fall much further. I need a base in Central London, for easier access to Heathrow. As soon as I sell the Hampstead house, I will buy a mansion in LA.'
Born in Nigeria, Alki was educated in Switzerland and, after a short stint in the British Army, studied film at the Royal College of Art. He then lived in LA for eight years, where he owned a stake in a film post-production business.
Returning to London in 1998, he co-founded Independent Models, the agency that handles Jodie Kidd and Helena Christensen.
Now domiciled for tax purposes in Cyprus, Alki bought his family's eight-bedroom mansion on the Greek island of Sventes last year.
WAITING ROOMS: Alki is living in his £1.8m Knightsbridge home (right) while his £4m Belgravia property (left) is renovated
FAMILY FORTUNE: The £30m eight-bed mansion bought from relatives on the island of Sventes
He won't say how much he paid but estimates it is now worth about £30million. He also owns a £5million chalet in Gstaad which he had built five years ago.
He is the major shareholder in the family business, which owns Coca-Cola bottling plants in 23 countries and a range of other enterprises, from manufacturing to shipping.
Despite his diverse business interests, Alki finds time to produce and direct films as well as seek acting roles.
Last week, he was on our screens playing a Turkish hit man in BBC1's Waking The Dead and produced 2007's Fishtales, starring Billy Zane and Kelly Brook, although it received poor reviews in Cannes.
FilmOn was floated on the German stock market in February at a market capitalisation of £300million. Employing 33 people, the firm has signed deals with Paramount and US cable networks.
'The recession blew away our plans to float in London last year,' says Alki, 'but we're going to return to that soon and then work on America.'
He funded his house purchase last year by remortgaging his properties in Belgravia and Knightsbridge. The latter has only a 25-year-lease but is perfectly situated opposite the luxurious hotel The Berkeley and valued in 2007 at £3.5million.
Showing impeccable timing, he managed to arrange his loan against peak 2007 values for both properties while also securing an interest rate of just one half of a percentage point over base.
'I have assets and investments around the world but some have fallen in value quite sharply so I didn't want to liquidate at that time and take a loss,' he says. 'It was cheap money and I knew I could sell at any time to pay it off.'
The house in Hampstead has 8,000sq ft of accommodation, separate staff quarters on the lower-ground floor and a 130ft garden, double garage and off-street parking.
Alki has spent £350,000 on new bathrooms, kitchens and floors as well as replumbing and redecorating throughout.
'The one thing we missed was the chance to replace the water softener,' he says.
'It leaked recently - now the lower-ground level needs to be refloored and rewired which will cost £100,000.'
Once this is fixed, and the terms of his divorce are agreed, Alki will be ready to sell. He is taking a maverick approach, giving three agents 60 days to race each other to a sale - the winner getting the fixed commission of between half and one per cent.
'If they don't got anywhere in that time,' says Alki, 'I will rent it out and wait until things improve.'
Grant Alexson, head of the Hampstead office of Knight Frank, says the house is among the top five properties in one of the three best roads in Hampstead.
Although market values fell by 20 per cent after October last year, a shortage of stock in the upper price bracket has been forcing buyers to pay last summer's prices.
'That area is extremely popular. It's close to the heath but you can walk into the village for shops and the Tube station,' says Grant.
'Alki was unlucky because he exchanged contracts in August 2008, just before the market collapsed, but he was committed to the agreed price.
'But although values fell, it would be a mistake to assume prices followed.
Many vendors refused to sell below a certain threshold and took their homes off the market, squeezing supply. Anyone buying now has to pay what the vendor wants or lose the property. Alki could easily achieve £13million in this market.'
Price: £13million. Bedrooms: Seven, all en suite, two with dressing rooms. Bathrooms: En suites plus two cloakrooms. Reception rooms: Five plus kitchen/breakfast room. Outside: Decking, play area, double garage. Contact: Register interest with Palace Gate agents, 07850 388707.