Property editor of the NZ Herald

Ministry of Sound magnate's NZ island retreat

UK rich-lister will host world music stars on $7.3m Waiheke haven.
The beachfront haven where Lord Palumbo will entertain top recording artists is at secluded Omaru Bay, at the eastern end of the island. Photo / Supplied
The beachfront haven where Lord Palumbo will entertain top recording artists is at secluded Omaru Bay, at the eastern end of the island. Photo / Supplied

One of Britain's wealthiest men has bought a large Waiheke Island beachfront retreat where international recording artists will stay.

Jamie Palumbo is a life peer and a member of the House of Lords.

Lord Palumbo of Southwark, as he is formally known, is the founder of London's legendary Ministry of Sound nightclub and Ministry of Sound record label - said to be the world's largest independent music company. Last year, the Sunday Times Rich List estimated his fortune at £300 million ($671 million).

Lord Palumbo has just got Government consent for a $7.3 million deal to buy a farm at Omaru Bay, where he plans to establish his business interests.

Omaru Bay, a secluded horseshoe-shaped bay at the eastern end of Waiheke, has two golden sand beaches, two relatively modest but stately homes, a boat shed and shearers' shed.

The Overseas Investment Office released material exclusively to the Weekend Herald that showed that on December 1, it granted consent for him to buy the farm, which has been owned jointly by the Casterton No 1 and No. 2 Trust and the Collow Family Trust - New Zealand interests.

Government consent for the purchase was needed because the 26.9ha farm is classified as sensitive due to it being waterfront land.

"The applicant plans to acquire the land for the purpose of developing an artists' retreat for musicians," the Overseas Investment Office decision said. "As part of the development the applicant also intends to restore and enhance the indigenous vegetation on the land."

Ollie Wall of Graham Wall Real Estate, which sold the property, said it was perfect for the music entrepreneur's purposes.

Entertainment publicist and former NZ Idol judge Paul Ellis expressed delight at the purchase.

"The music industry is really small and the more eyes on us, the better it is for the industry. Anyone involved in the music industry at such an extraordinary or successful level - for them to own land here, it's fantastic," he said.

Whether the purchase would result in major dance music events on the island was as yet unknown, Ellis said, but not off the cards.

Lord Palumbo visited the estate late last year with Auckland-based architect Lance Herbst of Herbst Architects to examine the buildings and scoping out the potential to develop a number of stand-alone accommodation facilities.

The deal was settled on January 3.

Lord Jamie Palumbo

James Palumbo. Photo / REX/Shutterstock
James Palumbo. Photo / REX/Shutterstock

The chairman of the Ministry of Sound, Lord Palumbo of Southwark, is in his early 50s and one of the world's leading record label figures.

The glamorous entrepreneur, a Liberal Democrat in the House of Lords, previously worked in finance and property, and the Sunday Times Rich List last year put him in 340th place with an estimated £300 million ($671 million) fortune.

He is the eldest son of property developer Peter Palumbo and was born in London, then educated at Eton College and Worcester College, Oxford.

The former Merrill Lynch staffer joined his school friend Humphrey Waterhouse and DJ Justin Berkmann to found the Ministry of Sound nightclub in South London in the early 1990s. The business went on to become one of the world's top recording labels, selling more than 55 million albums.

DJs who have featured at the club include Roger Sanchez and David Guetta. The record label's leading acts include Example, DJ Fresh and London Grammar.

Lord Palumbo's father was a trusted confidant of Princess Diana and the Daily Mail reported last year that he was "so highly esteemed by the royal family that he was asked to be godfather to Princess Beatrice".

It also mentioned how the father and son had barely spoken for 30 years after an acrimonious disagreement over the family's £70 million trust.

Lord Palumbo has also written a novel, Tomas - an acronym for There's Only Money and Sex.

- NZ Herald

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