Billionaire bought Australia's priciest mansion without ever seeing it

Billionaire bought Australia's priciest mansion without ever seeing it
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By Sid Lipsey

Being a billionaire means you can afford to skip the annoying parts about buying a house: mortgages applications, scrounging together the down payment, price negotiations ... oh, and actually seeing the house you're buying.

Australian-Chinese billionaire Chau Chak Wing has bought a mansion in Australia for 70 million Australian dollars ($52 million) — the biggest home purchase in Aussie history. And he forked out that huge chunk of change without actually seeing the place. (You can see it, though; click here for our slideshow.)

The estate, named La Mer, used to belong to another billionaire, Australian mogul James Packer.

Chau told the Australian real estate site Domain: "I never saw the [Packer] house. I don't know who the former owners were."

Chau had lived in his previous Sydney home since 1995 and "wanted to move into something a little bigger," he told Domain. So he had his daughter Winky, who runs the family's Chinese-language newspaper, handle the purchase.

Chau's new home definitely qualifies as "a little bigger." The land combines three lots for a total of 36,000 square feet, or almost an acre, in Sydney's exclusive suburb and has sweeping views of Sydney Harbor. The six-story home has six bedrooms, six bathrooms, a 20-car garage, a 20-seat theater, a gym, a sauna, an elevator and a glassed-in garden. Click here or on a photo for a slideshow.

Before its sale, La Mer was one of the spoils of a high-profile divorce. James Packer had bought it for 18 million Australian dollars in 2009, intending to live there with his wife, Erica, and their three children. He then reportedly sank more than 50 million Australian dollars -- what would be about $37 million at today's exchange rates -- into a three-year renovation project, which included buying two houses behind the property.

But shortly after the couple finally moved in to La Mer, they split up. Erica got the house in the 2013 settlement. The property sat empty as the Packers went their separate ways — into the arms of Grammy-winning singers: James is dating Mariah Carey, and Erica has been linked to Seal. 

Experts say that even with this record-breaking, sight-unseen sale, the tens of millions that Packer spent on the renovation means he will probably only break even. You don't have to worry too much about him, though; Forbes estimates he's worth $4.4 billion. 

As for the home's new owner, Chau Chak Wing (whose fortune Forbes estimates to be $1 billion), it's unknown if he's had a chance to finally see his new purchase yet. But don't worry about him, either.  If it turns out he doesn't like it, he can afford to just go out and buy another one. 

Click here or on a photo for a slideshow of the Australian mansion a billionaire bought — sight unseen!

Also on Yahoo Homes:

Cate Blanchett is moving to Hollywood, lists $15M eco-mansion in Sydney (27 photos)
'Worst house in Australia' hits market, unleashing onslaught of interest (16 photos)
Elderly heir knocks $60M off price of mansion, even agrees to move out (36 photos)

Editor's note: This story has been edited to clarify that the land comprises about 36,000 square feet. The square footage of the mansion is undisclosed.

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