London: Second Home for India's Wealthy
The Dorchester, with its 50 suites, is a hot favourite with the billionaires’ club. The Dorchester Collection of luxury 5-star hotels includes the contemporary 45 Park Lane, often used by younger family members, and Coworth Park by Ascot, handy for doting parents escorting their children to and from Eton.
This September, socialite Bindiya Chanrai had her pre-wedding party in the Dorchester ballroom.
Recently, Waymade Healthcare co-founder Vijay Patel also organised a lavish sit-down event there. The hotel’s senior chef, Uday Shankar, shares a personal relationship with many Indian guests and ensures they have their hearts’ desires. China Tang at the Dorchester is the most expensive Chinese restaurant in town and is frequented by rich, fun-loving chaps such as Dr Rahul Nanda, the chairman of TOPS Security who’s also on a British newspaper’s rich list. Nanda makes sure he eats there at least “once every three weeks”.
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When an Indian billionaire flies into the UK in his private jet, he uses a fixed base operator, like Biggin Hill aerodrome or Luton near London, so that he can be driven to his hotel or home minus the fuss of customs and immigration. Britain’s richest man and NRI steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal is a frequent flyer who is reported to have visited up to three countries a day in his Gulf Stream G550, part of a fleet that includes an Airbus ACJ and a Boeing Business Jet. Reliance ADAG Chairman Anil Ambani has a Bombardier Global Express, just like Bill Clinton and Steven Spielberg, and also crisscrosses the globe in a Falcon 7X or a Falcon 2000.
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Jewellery, Art and Antiques
Where do Indian billionaires buy most of their jewellery from? Surprisingly, their homeland! Rahul Nanda’s wife Winnie, for instance, visits Ghana Singh stores whenever she’s in Mumbai. In London, Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips de Pury & Company are venues that the super-rich regularly monitor for collectibles. Recently, Rajesh Agrawal was at a Phillips de Pury private dinner to view a new collection of art by Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst. His table companions? Donatella Versace and Yoko Ono.
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The religion of cricket reigns supreme in India and devotees include our billionaires, who line up to pay obeisance at Lord’s Cricket Ground. Here, they hold their collective breath while fortunes swing—but on the pitch, not inside the boardroom! Rohit Narang, head of sales of an Indian firm in London, has entertained many clients in his company’s private box at Lord’s; it costs £75,000 for a full season. Football stadia, too, are playgrounds of the rich and the famous. Rajesh Agrawal, CEO of RationalFX and a new entrant to a British newspaper’s rich list, sponsors Birmingham City. The club returns the favour with a not-for-sale box that houses a bespoke bar and serves three-course meals. (Lower rung standard boxes start at £60,000/yr).
Agrawal is also a member of Birmingham FC’s director’s club where he gets to rub shoulders with luminaries like Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
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Lakshmi Mittal set a record about a decade ago when he bought a 12-bedroom mansion in leafy Kensingston Palace Gardens, one of the most exclusive addresses in the world, for £57 million. In 2008, Mittal surpassed his own record for splashing the most cash on a house by buying a £117-million property in the street next to the private avenue that backs onto Kensington Palace. Vedanta group Chairman Anil Agarwal owns a home in Hill Street, Mayfair. Author and cultural commentator Stephen Bayley spots a reverse colonisation trend: Indian billionaires now own some of the most iconic British imperial residences in London. The Hinduja brothers converted four Grade 1 listed buildings into one divided palatial 50-room home in Carlton Terrace. This one used to belong to King George IV. Clearly, Indians are the new monarchs.