Toorak's Edzell sells to businessman Andrew Abercrombie

Toorak's Edzell sells to businessman Andrew Abercrombie
Toorak's Edzell sells to businessman Andrew Abercrombie

Andrew Abercrombie, the former chief executive of leasing company FlexiGroup, has bought the Toorak mansion, Edzell. He currently owns another riverfront elsewhere on St Georges Road having paid $14 million in 2007.

The April 5 deal was struck with architect Michael Spivakovsky, who’d regained the house after the former television news presenter-turned-spin doctor Simone Semmens lost control of the property that she'd initially secured with vendor finance in late 2011.

Edzell was bought in late 2011 for $11 million by Semmens with vendor finance from architect Michael Spivakovsky and his wife, Cheryl, who took security over another now-sold Semmens property, Rosecraddock, the Caulfield North mansion.

Seemens had been hoping to keep the historic 1890s Toorak riverfront Edzell while quickly selling off the waterfront block, but her plans unravelled. 

She had secured Heritage Victoria permission for the subdivision of the historic St George Road estate into two allotments, with the government department noting its "recognition of the fact that the current proprietor’s specific financial circumstances were a factor in the determination of the permit as allowed for under section 73(1)(b) of the Heritage Act 1995."

Having paid $11 million for the house and land, Semmens listed an 1,800-square-metre vacant block through RT Edgar agent David Colbranwith unrealisable $9 million hopes.

Spivakovsky's latest sale price to Andrew Abercrombie has yet to be disclosed. Spivakorsky inherited it from his father, the acclaimed pianist Jascha.

Andrew Abercrombie, who joined the BRW Rich list in 2007 with a fortune of $379 million, became the Liberal Party's Victorian branch treasurer around 2011. His estimated net worth is now around $465 million.

Much of his wealth stems from Flexirent was conceived in 1988 when David Berkman looked at the rapid obsolescence and depreciation of fax machines. Mr Berkman, with Mr Abercrombie, formed Berkman Capital Finance, which was renamed Flexirent and went from six employees with a turnover of $2 million to $3 million a year to 55 employees and $50 million in quick time.

He is an experienced commercial and tax lawyer and was a founding partner in a legal firm operating in both Sydney and Melbourne. Following several years in property investment and tax consulting, he became involved in the Flexirent business in 1991 and until 2003 was its chief executive officer.

The heritage-protected 1890s Elizabethan Revival house was once located on 28 hectares within 1917 Walter Butler-designed gardens.

Edzell was built for the former lord mayor James Stewart shortly before his year in office.

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of our authors. Jonathan has been writing about property since the early 1980s and is editor-at-large of Property Observer.

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