Property, Art and the dilemma of “Pounds Per Square Foot”

A brief observation on the rareified stratosphere of the very upper echelons of London’s property market and their similarities with art.

The rigid and stringent bounds of “pound per square footage” often ‎demarcates false boundaries in the hearts and minds of the less sophisticated buyers. The false credence of this system and its attendant myopia, to see beyond “2,000 pounds per square foot” for instance, confine and tether its most ardent advocates to mediocrity in property.

The super-prime in property, like in the art world, ‎is not governed by any mathematic law or formula. Such affairs require compassion. In the realm of this particular asset class, such methods are rendered cumbersome and inadequate.

In a deal that shattered records in its time, in the acquisition of a house that was truly spectacular, it was said by a buyer that “this house is a one off, tantamount to a unique Picasso, and clearly available to the market only once in a lifetime”. It was not a regularly traded and readily available commodity. The justification of paying a price that can bear no comparable takes its route in the value of rarity. It is the rare marriage of the countless and complex variables desired and so highly coveted that dictates and defines the price paid in these upper echelons of our market.

But further still, the finest treasures in art, like in property, preside over their peers with despotism. Like a painting, the most special houses are greater than the sum of its parts and create an intangible, impalpable chemistry and atmosphere which is hard to define and by virtue of this elevates it above its neighbours and peers. Ironically, it is the high water marks left by these prices, set by exceptional buyers, for exceptional houses, that pave the way for an escalating market in the less impressive backwaters of such an area as SW3, Chelsea.

But in spite of the prevailing current of apathy and reserve that dominates our pre-election market, these transactions are still taking place, quietly and irregularly, and thankfully, we here are privileged enough to be involved, on occasion, with the odd masterpiece. 56482_RUS140089_IMG_04