Kirsty Wynn

Kirsty Wynn is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Mansion plan in Hart's hands

Graeme Hart owns multiple properties in St Heliers.
Graeme Hart owns multiple properties in St Heliers.

Plans for a lavish clifftop mansion - the unrealised dream home of former bankrupted Sensation Yachts owner Ivan Erceg - can be revealed for the first time.

The opulent proposal is now in the hands of Graeme Hart, New Zealand's richest man, who has recently cleared the land and installed lighting, security cameras and chain-link fencing to keep out miscreants.

Erceg, the younger brother of late alcohol baron Michael Erceg, planned a four-level, Mediterranean-inspired cliff-hugging home on the steep site overlooking Gentlemen's Bay in East Auckland.

Erceg's Perle de la Mer - French for "Pearl of the Sea" - was to be a lavish mansion but the dream was dashed when the land was seized by the Public Trust in 2009.

Billionaire Hart bought the land in a mortgagee sale from the Public Trust the same year for $1.125million, $2.243m less than Erceg paid and $3.095m less than the council valuation. The land sits below Hart's sprawling $22m mansion in Riddell Rd in Glendowie.

Plans for Perle de la Mer's 3000sq m site show statues, a grand circular staircase, theatre, wine cellar, gymnasium and squash court.

Council records show previous owners also had elaborate plans. Excavations, concrete poles and steel girders jutting out of the beginnings of a three-car garage remain.

Hart has lodged no consent applications with the Auckland Council - suggesting the purchase was to stop trespassers and prevent anyone building next to his mansion.

A property hazard report in 2009 revealed the land was in a high-risk zone for slippage. The steep site drops away to a small beach. Public access to the beach was restricted when a landslide tore away a set of wooden stairs.

Until recently the hard-to-access property was a magnet for vandals and drinkers. Graffiti covered every flat surface and bottles and cans littered the site. It has now been tidied and the graffiti removed, acting as a million-dollar buffer for Hart's clifftop mansion.

Erceg could not be contacted but is believed to be living overseas.

- Herald on Sunday

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