Residents in one of Melbourne’s richest suburbs may have learned a new Chinese word recently, as one of China’s infamous “tuhao” knocked down a historic home in Toorak, Australia after buying it two years ago for $13.4 million cash.
Xiaoyan “Kylie” Bao, the wife of PLA soldier turned business tycoon Wang Hua, had the Idylwilde mansion at 16 St Georges Road in Toorak demolished after unsuccessful attempts by local residents to have the circa 1913 home, which sits on a 4,000 square metre (43,055 square foot) lot, declared a heritage site.
Wang Hua, the chairman of Nanjing-based conglomerate Jeshing Group, worked his way from being a foot soldier to a fortune estimated at $400 million. A “tuhao” is a Chinese colloquial term for a wealthy person who lacks culture or taste.
Buy It Up, Knock It Down
When listed for sale by Australian construction magnate Peter Devitt, Idylwilde was described as “a rare and beautiful piece of Australian real estate.” However, its new owners filed for permission to knock the Queen Anne-style estate down just two months after purchasing it in September 2013.
Bao is said to have purchased the mansion with cash that Wang brought in by the suitcase-load in his private jet, according to local media reports. Bao also controls the private Heritage Golf and Country Club in nearby Chirnside Park, after she and her husband bought the exclusive resort in 2011, also allegedly with suitcases of cash.
The Melbourne mansion was finally knocked down this week after heritage status was denied and local authorities were forced to issue a demolition permit. Despite the undisputed legality of razing the house, however, the future residents seem to have generated some bad blood with their new neighbours.
As an excavator reduced the 100-year-old home to pile of bricks and beams, some of the other millionaires in the area made their feelings known, according to an account in property website Domain.com.au:
An irate neighbour – who did not wish to be identified – attempted to stop the works, approaching the site manager to complain.
A motorist slowed her car to scream ‘it’s a f—ing disgrace’ as she drove past the wreckage on one of Melbourne’s most exclusive streets.”
Exclusive Golf Course Facing Member Revolt
Over at Heritage Golf and Country Club, which Bao now controls after separating from her husband last year, there is also friction between the new owner and the club’s members.
The prestigious Jack Nicklaus-designed club, which charges members $2800 per year to use its facilities, is said to be facing a member revolt over deteriorating conditions and ill-maintained facilities.
Golfing legend Nicklaus, who has put his name on some of the world’s best-known golf destinations, is said to have notified Bao’s management that the club is in danger of losing the right to use the Nicklaus trademarks due to “deep concerns” about the “current unacceptable conditions.”
Heritage is also facing a court action filed by suppliers to have the club declared insolvent over unpaid bills.