One of the country's most lavish and controversial mansions is up for sale, with expectations that the price could set the record for a single property.
Real estate agent Graham Wall is seeking offers for the palatial Paritai Drive home partly financed by embattled businessman and Hanover co-founder Mark Hotchin.
The house became a lightning rod for investor anger after the finance company's collapse in 2008 and some of the proceeds from its sale could still be subject to the outcome of a courtroom battle involving Mr Hotchin, one of his family trusts and the Financial Markets Authority.
There is speculation that the property, which is believed to have cost $42 million so far, might sell for around $50 million. Mr Wall is reluctant to discuss prices, preferring to describe it as the country's most expensive house.
Workmen are still completing the tennis court at the seven-bedroom mansion, which has a 12-car garage, gym and indoor pool on the ground floor.
One aerial picture supplied to the Weekend Herald this week showed ladders, saw horses and other construction material on the tennis court, beneath the palm tree-lined, tropical-style outdoor pool on the level above.
Mr Wall said the property, which at 6,920sqm is almost as big as a football field, would be ready. "The final touches, including tennis court, will be completed by the end of July."
He said there would be no auction, tender or open homes and only pre-approved parties would be allowed inside. The exclusive listing would be marketed via his Chinese office, as well as locally, and he already had potential buyers.
"We have offshore clients visiting specifically to view the property," he said, comparing the sale to properties he had previously sold for the Sultan of Brunei and those bought for American billionaire Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley entrepreneur and former PayPal chief executive.
"Two New Zealand families are already showing interest."
Mr Hotchin spent $12.2 million on the house, which is built on land owned by one of his family trusts. A court hearing in May heard that he had planned to lease the finished property from the trust - known as KA No 4 - and live there for up to 30 years with his family, but ran into financial difficulty after the collapse of Hanover. The trust then took over and paid for the rest of the construction of the mansion.
Mr Hotchin told the High Court at Auckland he was unable to take up the lease because he could not afford tens of thousands of dollars in rates and the hiring of a full-time gardener at an annual cost of $60,000.
The 54-year-old businessman took a claim against the KA No 4 trustee to recover some of his building costs from the proceeds of the sale. Mr Hotchin and the trustee disagreed over how money from the sale of the mansion should be divided once the bank and creditors are paid.
The trustee said that it would have settled with Mr Hotchin but could not do so because of the Financial Markets Authority, which put a freezing order on the property in 2010.
The FMA, which plans to seek compensation for investors in a civil case, said Mr Hotchin should be repaid the full $12.2 million. Justice Helen Winkelmann reserved her decision after the three-day hearing.
In the same week, the Serious Fraud Office announced that it had found no criminal wrongdoing by Mr Hotchin after a 32-month investigation.
At the time, Mr Hotchin told the Herald on Sunday that he, his wife Amanda and their three children were living in a rented, four-bedroom "regular house" in an Australian city, accepting help from family members to supplement their $1,000-a-week allowance while fighting their legal battles.
Most expensive properties
• Kim Dotcom mansion, Coatesville - $30 million
• Cowes Bay Estate, Waiheke Island - $33 million
• Pakatoa Island, Hauraki Gulf - $35 million
• Russian billionaire Alexander Abramov's house, Northland - $40m (estimated)
• Hotchin house, Paritai Drive, Auckland - $50 million?