Liz looks at new £5m house

by CHARLIE BAIN, Daily Mail

It isn't the sort of place you would expect a single mother to be able to afford.

But, then, Liz Hurley is no ordinary single parent.

The Estee Lauder model was last week shown around a six-bedroom house with a £5million price-tag.

With her son Damian celebrating his second birthday yesterday, she has clearly decided that her £2million townhouse in Chelsea no longer fits the bill.

Last year, she turned her dressing room into a nursery and built an extension at the back of the three-bedroom Victorian property she once shared with Hugh Grant.

The fact that Miss Hurley can afford a substantial house in one of the most expensive parts of London shows that while her Hollywood career has been far from successful she still has plenty of earning power.

In 1996, she signed a £3million contract with Estee Lauder which was renewed for £2.15million in 2000 and will now pay her £ 2million a year until 2006.

She won a £2.75million contract to promote a gel-filled bra and earned £4million in 2001 from modelling and film work.

Appearing in the second Austin Powers film brought her £3million, although a string of movie flops means she is now paid less than £1million per role.

The 38-year-old demonstrated her financial security in December 2002 when she turned down an offer of £100,000 a year from Damian's father, the American property heir Steve Bing, saying she and her son were "managing very well by ourselves".

With a reported fortune of at least £13million, Miss Hurley once said: "I'm not mega-rich. I've got plenty of money, but I can't afford private planes."

A year ago she began investing her money in property, paying £2.75million for an eight- bedroom Cotswolds home set in 72 acres.

She spends an increasing amount of time at the farmhouse in the village of Barnsley with her boyfriend, the 38-year-old textiles heir Arun Nayar.

Should she go ahead with the purchase of the house in Belgravia, she would be following some illustrious occupiers.

The property has two blue English Heritage plaques outside.

Viscount Cecil of Chelwood, the son of former Prime Minister Lord Salisbury and one of the founders of the League of Nations, was once the owner.

Until 1982 the property was in the hands of Philip Noel-Baker, a one-time Labour minister and a silver medallist in the 1500 metres at the 1920 Antwerp Olympics.

Friends say Miss Hurley will almost certainly be selling her Chelsea home, which will mean a further severing of ties with Grant.

They paid £1.2million for the house seven years ago. The pair still jointly own the freehold, despite the fact that Grant moved next door shortly after the couple split in May 2000.

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