A rotting villa transformed into a Grey Lynn masterpiece sold for $2.825 million, the Herald can finally reveal.

The 120-year-old settler's cottage on Leighton St in the Auckland city suburb went under the hammer in March but failed to sell despite a $2.5 million bid.

The house sold later that week but the real estate agents refused to say how much for and who the buyers were.

Public records have now been updated - they can take up to three months - and the Herald can now reveal the owners are BNZ banker Max Brown and his wife, L'Oreal marketing manager Rachael Brown, who also go by the last name St Clair.


The couple, who did not want to comment when approached by the Herald, sold a property on Ngapuhi Rd in Remuera in September last year for $3.371 million, according to Quotable Value.

They told Herald Homes at the time they had renovated the 1970s property - which included a main house and three two-bedroom flats at the front - which was still in its 1970s style.

They had wanted to move across town to be closer to family.

The Herald has been reporting on the Grey Lynn hovel since late 2014 when a front-page story showed it in its near-original state with rotting floorboards, a sagging ceiling, threadbare carpet and nicotine-caked walls.

It had just two bedrooms and was touted as "the worst condition house in the best suburb".

The marketing agent described it as the worst he'd ever sold.

to the three directors of Evoke Developments, who carried out the 17-month makeover. The deceased estate had a 2011 valuation of $690,000.

A Cook Island couple had lived at the home for 20 years until the death of the husband, Pomani "Paul" Tangata - a former Cooks MP and artist - in June of that year.

Mr Tangata's parents had purchased the home in 1957.

During the makeover, two extra bedrooms were added and the floor area was extended to 215sq m.

The property's rundown bathroom before it was renovated. Photo / Jason Oxenham
The property's rundown bathroom before it was renovated. Photo / Jason Oxenham