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  1. Wealth
May 15, 2013

The Contessa comes to town to visit her property empire

By Spear's

She trends fashions and is a brand ambassador but most lucratively we’ve found a knack of working together in London

The Contessa is coming to town. She’s an old friend who lives in Milan; she wasn’t née a contessa, rather she married a comte. We shared a house at university and after graduation while I hot-footed it to Los Angeles and the bright lights of Hollywood, she fell into the Euro-scene – her entrance positively encouraged and helped by the fact that she’s extremely attractive with a body that Elle Macpherson would envy.

It was Ibiza in August; Verbier for long weekends during piste time; Paris for a party; and a yacht around Sardinia in July. All the while, holding down a job in one of the major auction houses – one of those client relation jobs that promotes ‘networking’ – or more accurately hopping onto a plane, to mingle with the well-to-do, at a moment’s notice.

That was a decade ago and after twenty months she tired of the fiesta and met her comte – I was still being a tea-boy on a movie set and felt rather far behind. She has become – as we’d rather expected she would – an arbiter of taste. She has an ‘eye’ – one with style and flair as witnessed in her blog. She trends fashions and is a brand ambassador but most lucratively we’ve found a knack of working together in London.

Raw potential

I find her a flat with raw potential in the favoured area of the Euro-set – South Kensington, Chelsea, Notting Hill or Holland Park – she then transforms it to a home of undeniable chic. It’s never generic, as she hates that developer look. Her success comes down to the fact that she decorates for herself.

In fact, this profitable business started that very way – on buying her first London pad. She has always missed the town and her friends here – and knew too that it was a sound investment. The Comte is a relaxed man who adores his wife so was happy to comply.  And the Contessa is shrewd – she can see what a property can be and will make compromises where necessary.

Her first flat was a lateral space but a three floor walk-up. It overlooked communal gardens but appeared (when she bought it) like a squat. She worked her magic and, voila, her London flat was ready and she found a short-let agent to rent it out during the winter months.

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One tenant was so taken with it that he offered her such a price she couldn’t refuse. That was four years ago and four properties later the Contessa is on a roll.

It’s a win-win for us as we get to spend time together – and between maisonettes in Sud de Kensington we reminisce, make future plans and set the world to rights. Just like we did all those years ago at university.

Read more from Sebastian Gibson on property

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