Australia's Most Expensive Property Left For "Live-In" Staff
The last will and testament of Lady Mary Fairfax has finally been seen.
It's the happy ending few dynasty sagas reach: a $100 million property, left largely for the servants.
That's left 'for', and not 'to'; the live-in staff who attended the heritage-listed Fairwater property in Sydney's eastern suburbs have not been given the home in Lady Mary Fairfax's will.
But they are allowed to carry on living there, long after the death of the philanthropist and matriarch in September last year.
For the first time, the last will and testament of Lady Fairfax has been seen almost a year after her death, age 95.
As reported by The Australian, Lady Fairfax left her vast fortune to her four children: Warwick Fairfax Junior, Charles Fairfax, Anna Cleary, and Garth Symonds. She excluded three children from her late husband's previous marriage, on the basis that they were already adequately provided for.
But an interesting point in the will outlines that all "live-in" staff members employed by Lady Mary at the time of her death can "continue to live-in at Fairwater".
That includes Lady Mary's trusted personal assistant Lee Thomas, 76, who is now one of four executors of the will.
It is not clear if the live-in staff took Lady Fairfax up on her offer, but you have to ask: why wouldn't you?
The heritage-listed property is one that any real estate agent would love to get their hands on.
Built in 1882 by leading architect of the day, John Horbury Hunter, for stockbrocker Francis Edward Joseph, it's estimated to be worth about $100 million. If it fetched that much at sale, it would be Australia's most expensive property, and the first to tip the nine figure sum mark.
The 800 square metre property boasts significant harbour views and a number of protected mature trees that date back more than a century.
Next door's Elaine property, which was once also owned by the Fairfax family, sold for a record $71 million to Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar mid last year.
(The agent who sold that property, Ken Jacobs, declined to be interviewed for this story.)
The Sydney Morning Herald's Andrew Horney once wrote that while "the curtains at Fairwater were looking a little faded and the sofas had seen better days, the enormous Federation house and its tiny owner were still impressive, both revealing their true glory when a butler ushered us into the grand ballroom for an opera recital."
Indeed, Lady Fairfax used to throw lavish galas at her home, entertaining Australia's most powerful men and women across the corporate, political and social worlds.
Her will stipulates that the house will be used for charitable organisations and fundraising in "the same manner as Fairwater has been used during my lifetime", so it looks like the parties will go on.
But for now, the live-in staff are free to soak up the views and live in the luxury of Australia's most sought-after property -- at least, until the children decide to sell it.