A couple who claim they were left stranded on the property ladder when a billionaire prince pulled out of buying their £5million mansion are now suing him for £1.8million.
Richard and Deborah Conway say they were due to sell their home in London’s Mill Hill to Nigerian royal, Prince Arthur Eze, who is reputedly worth £2billion.
But, after the Prince paid a £500,000 deposit, the move fell through, leaving the Conways needing a bridging loan while they tried to find a new buyer.
They are now suing him for breach of contract at London’s High Court, but are being counter-sued by him over the deposit.
Richard Conway and his wife are locked in a bitter court battle over the botched sale of their £5million home. Nigerian Prince Arthur Eze wants his £500,000 deposit back
The proposed £5million sale of the house in London’s upmarket Mill Hill fell through
Mr Conway told the court that he and his wife wanted to ‘pay off all our debts and start again’ and had a target selling price of £5million.
The Conways and the Nigerian royal exchanged contracts in August 2015 after a ‘go-between’ told the prince about the nine-bedroom property in leafy north London.
Prince Eze, who never saw the house before making an offer, paid the couple a 10 percent deposit of £500,000, the Conways’ QC, Matthew Collings told the court.
The Prince, the 62-year-old founder of oil exploration company Atlas Oranto Petroleum, has a fleet of Rolls Royces and a private jet.
But the move fell through, leaving the Conways needing ‘bridging finance to fill the huge hole left by Prince Eze’s failure to complete, and failure to pay the balance of the purchase price,’ Mr Collings said.
The prince’s legal team claim the sale contract is ‘void’ because the Conways agreed to pay the go-between a ‘secret commission’ to secure the deal.
The lavish property features a beautiful swimming pool in a pool-house extension
The couple were hoping to get £5million for the large two-storey property in north London
The Conways deny any inappropriate conduct. Their lawyer said the go-between initially contacted them without Prince Eze’s knowledge, and later ‘raised the issue of the Conways paying his £75,000 finder’s fee’.
‘Otherwise he threatened to scupper the deal,’ added Mr Conway, also 62, who now lives in Great Shelford, Cambridgeshire.
From the witness box, Prince Eze said he had wanted ‘a genuine investment in the UK’.
‘I wasn’t concerned about the price but I was concerned about people being open,’ he told the judge.
The nine-bedroom home also includes this large conservatory which opens onto the garden
The prince rejected suggestions by Mr Collings that a ‘drastic fall in oil prices’ prompted his decision to pull out of the deal.
He had ‘good intentions’ to buy the house, he told the court, but was concerned he was not receiving ‘proper information about what was going on’.
‘I thought there was something funny going on,’ said Prince Eze.
Judge Andrew Keyser QC has reserved judgement in the case, which will be decided at a later date.