One of Melbourne's most reclusive and wealthy families is selling an extravagant Toorak estate, a collection of mansions expected to fetch up to $50 million.
The six houses were amassed into one portfolio by the former head of BP, James Stafford-Fox, and his wife Moyna. The couple bought the grand mansion at 15 Evans Court and then spent nearly two decades accumulating five neighbouring properties, creating an exclusive compound in the city's richest pocket.
After their death, the estate was bought in 2013 by the Roche family for an undisclosed sum, all of which was donated to funding dementia research.
The family business, Roche Holdings, began as a civil engineering and mining company in the 1920s but now deals in private investments and property development.
The sprawling one-acre property, with six luxury houses on separate titles, has been listed for sale between $45 million and $50 million. If sold at that price, it would be the highest ever paid for a residential property in Victoria.
The record was set last year when a foreign buyer splashed almost $40 million for an ageing Toorak mansion on 5000 square metres.
Public records show Chinese national Qi Yang placed a caveat over 18 St Georges Road, legally protecting his purchase until settlement.
An international sales campaign was launched on Saturday for the Evans Court compound, with Abercromby's Jock Langley and CBRE's Mark Wizel handling the sale.
The estate is not being marketed as a development site, but none of the six houses are heritage protected. Any potential buyer hoping to raze the 4000-square metre site would likely face strong opposition from active resident groups and the Stonnington council.
Mr Wizel said Melbourne's prestige property market was continuing to attract significant investment interest from international buyers, predominantly from mainland China, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.
"Many of these investors are coming with the view to relocate permanently, meaning Melbourne's luxury housing markets are very much on the map for Asian buyers," Mr Wizel said.
"This international interest could not have been better highlighted than by the recent acquisition of 18 St Georges Road for close to $40 million."
Under federal law, foreign buyers need approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board before purchasing residential real estate in Australia. They also face with a range of taxes, including a hefty stamp duty fee.
Mr Langley said the Toorak compound was difficult to value because there were no comparable sales in the area.
"Everybody looks at it differently, whether you're looking at vacant land value or whether you're looking at it based on the bricks and mortar that sit on the current estate," he said, adding that the prestige of the postcode was a significant factor.
"To be able to get a substantial holding in Toorak, they're not a dime a dozen ... it's totally unique. I've seen nothing like it in Toorak."
Four of the six homes have been completely renovated, one is undergoing extensive work and there are approved renovation plans for the original mansion.