THE BLACKBOOK: Former London Residence of Picasso’s Muse for sale

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An exceptional two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment (approximately 1,577sq ft / 146sq m), located on the raised ground floor of a classic stucco fronted Grade II listed building in Sussex Gardens has come to the market, through leading luxury London property agents Harrods Estates.

The former home of socialite Sharmini Tiruchelvam, Sussex Gardens has played host to an array of celebrities including legendary photographer Sir Cecil Beaton (who lived locally) and the likes of Laurence Olivier, Princess Margaret, Omar Sharif and Elizabeth Taylor.  Malaysian born Sharmini, was a leading hostess of the London scene in the 60s, who also allegedly hosted a party for Charlie Chaplin’s 70th.  Heralded as one of the 10 most beautiful women in the world Sharmini has been painted by Picasso and photographed by Beaton and Snowden.  The property is also next to St James’s Church, where legendary writer Oscar Wilde married Constance Lloyd.

The apartment at Sussex Gardens is on the raised ground floor, having been converted from the principal portion of a Victorian house and retains sole use of the original main entrance to the house.  The property has been lovingly and faithfully restored to its glamorous heyday, with modern accents. Current owner Lorna Notaras purchased the property almost a decade ago, after spotting a feature on the property in The Times. Daniel Poole, the then vendor, had purchased the property from Sharmini.

Rising from the pavement, the main entrance is framed by a classic white portico, creating a grand and imposing entrance to the apartment. The primary entrance hall has been artfully restored with exquisite, aged, hand-cut beveled glass panels and wooden panelling, creating a grand hall of mirrors.  Passing through the primary entrance hall and inner partially glazed double doors, visitors enter the grand second hall, with wooden flooring, high ceilings and white Victorian-style wall panelling.  Immediately to the left is the reception room, bright with wooden flooring, the room has retained all its original Victorian features, including half paneled walls, dado rail, picture rail and a spectacular lattice designed Empire plaster ceiling, framed by coving. The room is flooded with natural daylight from two large sash windows, complete with working shutters, with the focal point of the room remaining the large fireplace and carved mantle, befitting the proportions of the room and original house.

Passing along the hall, next on the left is the principal bedroom, a large room with original feature fireplace and marble mantle, dramatic jet parquet floor, dado rail and large window with aspect to rear of the property.  Immediately next to the principal bedroom is the family bathroom, accessed from the hall via feature steps with marquetry detailing.  The updated white bathroom suite remains true to Victorian style, while the room has been given a dramatic and highly creative design treatment: a hand-cut mirror mosaic which creates ‘Klimt’ like reflections and captures the natural light from the window to the rear. The bathroom also benefits from underfloor heating.

At the far end of the hall and towards the rear of the property is a large kitchen and dining room. The full height wall panelling in the room and relief Empire plaster work ceiling are both listed, with the designer Italian kitchen having been installed on top of panelling, to ensure protection of the fabric of the panels.  The room benefits from high ceilings, an exceptionally large ‘leaded’ style window and original fireplace.  The classic Victorian plaster work creates a pleasing contrast against modern, industrial-style brushed-steel kitchen units, designed by Ralph Barazza, with an appropriately large Italian chandelier illuminating the space.

Leading off the kitchen is the second bedroom, which has its own en suite wet room, with under floor heating. The room is currently being used as a day room, decorated in neutral tones it is flooded with natural light from the side window and a pleasing roof lantern window.

The property is perfectly located for the park and adding to the harmony of the apartment, the property benefits from Feng Shui, courtesy of renowned expert Sarah Shurety.

Lorna Notaras, current owner and former fashion PR and city head-hunter, said: “It was hugely important to me to retain as many of the property’s period features as possible. In fact, it was the apartment’s history which was its main draw when I first came across it.  I’m not surprised Sharmini had such legendary parties here, as I’ve found it’s proven to be a super home and space for entertaining.

I have loved living at Sussex Gardens and feel well and truly spoilt at having had the opportunity to live here.

Not only does the area remind me of an elegant time gone by, but I am lucky to have a home with such a wonderful history: who else can say they’ve lived in place which was home to a Sri Lankan Princess and a subject for both Picasso and Pietro Annigoni? It’s a property that’s proven truly inspirational.”

Inspired by Sussex Gardens and its history Lorna is leaving London to start her new fashion business Born Elegant – inspired by the elegance of the 1950s and early 1960s, paying homage to the styles of Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Onassis, Doris Day and Sophia Loren.

Robert Cox, Sales Manager, Harrods Estates said: “The property is spectacular in every respect: period features, with contemporary touches, with rooms of a scale and proportion rarely seen today and a star studded past.  The main entrance, retained for sole use by the property from the original house, adds to the feeling of grandeur, but with the ease of apartment living.  Sussex Gardens is a superb and convenient location.”

The property benefits from full central heating, in addition to three gas feature fireplaces, and has many security features, with secure parking available by separate arrangement with St James’s Church.  Located moments from Hyde Park, north side, the apartment is Ideally situated for both shopping – Bond Street and Knightsbridge are within easy walking distance, with excellent access to transport facilities: Paddington and Lancaster Gate under ground stations are a short walk as is Paddington main line station and the Heathrow express.

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Courtesy Lawrie Cornish

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