Chinese leadership princeling demolishes Point Piper's Craig-y-Mor mansion

Chinese leadership princeling demolishes Point Piper's Craig-y-Mor mansion
Chinese leadership princeling demolishes Point Piper's Craig-y-Mor mansion

Demolition has begun on the Wolseley Road, Point Piper mansion owned by the son of a former vice-president of China.

Craig-y-Mor, the Point Piper non-waterfront residence owned by Zeng Wei and his wife, Jiang Mei, no longer sits proudly intact, high on the hill overlooking Sydney Harbour with picture postcard-perfect views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House.

The grand 1920s house (pictured this morning) with renovations by Professor Leslie Wilkinson was initially bought just in his wife's name, as was an earlier acquisition - a $1 million apartment in the World Tower block in Liverpool Street in the CBD in 2005.

The house cost $32.4 million in 2008 making it Sydney's most expensive demolition. It will be replaced by a $5 million Gergely & Pinter designed house.

The 2008 purchase, which ranked as the third highest in Sydney at the time and the priciest non-waterfront holder, was made just in the name of Jiang Mei. Quietly during 2009, the name of the Wei Zeng was subsequently added to the title. The knowledge of that coupling created subsequent intrigue and speculation, then confirmation of the unknown prominence back home of the owners.

Architect's impression: Gergely & Pinter Architects

It all came to the fore in late 2009 when the couple were seeking its demolition, to be replaced by a $5 million new home (architect's impression above), so they were both named for the first time in the then much anticipated end-of-year Sydney Morning Herald Title Deeds Christmas party column.

It quickly sparked speculation in Chinese internet chatrooms - despite their names being published in an incorrect order and the restrictions on Baidu, the Chinese internet search engine.

The web was soon alive with chatter linking Wei to his father, Zeng Qinghong, the former vice-president of the People's Republic of China between 2003 and 2008, and once one of the most powerful men in the Chinese Communist Party.

The elder Zeng, long the right-hand man to former President Jiang Zemin, was a member of China's peak political body, the Politburo Standing Committee, for five years and before that headed the powerful Organisation Department, which is responsible for deciding who gets which political posts.

The couple won planning approval on Christmas Eve 2010.

Point Piper on the Chinese tourist route for insight into the privileged lives of Communist Party princelings

Property Observer wrote in late 2011 there was a new addition for sightseeing Chinese tourists when they visit Sydney.

Not just cuddly koalas and the Opera House – they have added driving along Wolseley Road, Point Piper for a glimpse of the $32.4 million property owned by a son of a former vice-president of China, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The Chinese couple bought the Point Piper non-waterfront residence for a then Australian record of $32.4 million from the businessman Ben Tilley, who bought the Wolseley Road house for $16.15 million in 2004 from the stockbroker Rene Rivkin and his wife, Gayle. 

The Chinese couple had been keen to buy Villa de Mare, also on the Point Piper hillside, but negotiations with the recruitment entrepreneur Julia Ross failed to proceed to exchange in 2007.

Craig-y-mor is on a 1,100-square-metre block.

The Rivkins bought Craig-y-mor from the former Patrick stevedores chief, Chris Corrigan, and his wife, Valerie, for $10.7 million in 2001.

The Corrigans bought it in 1991 for $7.14 million from the developer Gary Rothwell who had subdivided the then 2600-square-metre estate which had been the home of the mining tycoon Roy Hudson who left his estate to his stepson, the London-based venture capitalist David Archer and wife Vicki.

Wilkinson was commissioned in 1962, to undertake additions and alterations costing 16,800 pounds for Roy Hudson who bought in 1960 from the Davies/Jackaman family who had it built in 1910.

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of Australia's most respected property journalists, having been at the top of the game since the early 1980s. Jonathan co-founded the property industry website Property Observer and has written for national and international publications.

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