This 25-year-old just inherited $12.3bn
What British billionaire Hugh Grosvenor now owns, including swathes of London and country estates.Neil Churchill August 15, 2016
There has always been two types of wealth in this world, old and new. Or put another way, inherited and self-made.
While it will always seem a grander source of wealth, it’s senseless to champion old money as a business or life goal; if you’re not born with it then you’ll never have it. Hugh Grosvenor, however, was certainly born with it.
The 25-year-old Brit has just inherited $12.3 billion, making him the youngest in the world’s top 400 richest people. He also becomes Britain’s 7th Duke of Westminster, inheriting the title on the sudden death of his father, Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, who held it for 37 years.
Of course, the young new Duke will be familiar to the lifestyle that comes with being part of one of the wealthiest families in Britain. This isn’t a Harry Potter cupboard-under-the-stairs-to-castle life transition.
But to now be in charge of an estate that has greater financial value than the national wealth of Tonga, Grenada, Maldives or Bhutan, is obviously pretty significant. All the Zuckerberg and Spiegel entrepreneur success stories in the world cannot compare to that type of overnight change.
So what exactly has Hugh Richard Louis Grosvenor inherited?
It’s not just his famous family’s fortune that is now in the 25-year-old’s control, it’s also the massive property portfolio. The Grosvenor Estate owns vast swathes of central London, around 300 acres across the wealthy boroughs of Mayfair, Belgravia and Marylebone.
Sir Thomas Grosvenor was bequeathed the land after marrying heiress Mary Davies in 1677. Her family had owned around 500 acres of farmland in west London.
Today it includes exclusive addresses such as: Grosvenor Square, site of the US embassy and several global private equity firms; Chester Square, home to the late Margaret Thatcher; The Beaumont hotel; Google’s London office; seafood restaurant Scott’s and Oscar de la Renta’s flagship store.
The Grosvenor family was originally from Cheshire in the north west of England, and it’s still home to their main country residence, Eaton Hall. Set within a one-mile estate, the manor was originally built in the 17th century but was replaced and rebuilt several times through the years.
In 1991, work finished on changing its appearance to that of a French chateau, and includes its own chapel, clock tower, stables and basement swimming pool.
North of Cheshire lies Lancashire, home to the family’s Abbeystead Estate, where the late Duke of Wellington died last week of a heart attack.
Built in 1886 as an Elizabethan shooting lodge, the 18,000 acres includes guns and billiards rooms and a service wing. There are also two separate houses on the estate.
The business international
The Grosvenor Group manages almost $17 billion of real estate, including the aforementioned commercial addresses in London, and employs over 550 people.
It owns assets in more than 70 cities worldwide, including urban regeneration projects and shopping centres in Shanghai, Stockholm and Vancouver, as well as luxury developments in Tokyo and Hong Kong.
Its Wheatsheaf Group business invests in renewable energy and agriculture, employing another 500 people, and manages rural estates home and abroad.
While property is undoubtedly the Grosvenor family’s main asset, over the years they have also invested their money in fine art. The private collection includes works by Velázquez, Stubbs and Rembrandt.
The late Duke of Westminster was a keen philanthropist, especially when it came to ex-military charities. He made a personal donation of $64.6 million to the construction of Stanford Hall, the as yet incomplete medical and rehabilitation centre for Britain’s injured service men and women.
The Westminster Foundation has donated to more than 1,500 charities since 1974, with the late Duke acting as president of a number of national organisations.
Inheriting over $12 billion would be a dream come true for most 25-year-olds, or anyone of any age for that matter - most would settle for a signet ring or a classic watch. But for the new Duke of Westminster, the wealth undoubtedly comes with serious responsibilities. Oh, and also a private jet.