The sprawling Surrey mansion that was once the home of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is to be auctioned off for £10 million.
The Rockwood Estate, set near the leafy suburb of Godalming, south of London, boasts 360 acres of countryside and is dominated by the main home which features more than 30 rooms, including 11 bedrooms, five bathrooms, a great hall, drawing room, a wood-panelled study and, of course, a domed and bomb-proof master bedroom: doubtless to keep away anyone irked by the countless millions in public money that Bhutto and, in particular, her husband Asif Ali Zardari pilfered from Pakistan.
The home also has separate farm, a pool house, two cottages and an airfield complete with hanger.
Zardari’s favourite part of the house, however, is said to have been a replica of the local boozer, built in the basement.
According to one local newspaper Zardari tried to buy the nearby Dog and Feather pub after moving into Rockwood Estate but when his offer was rejected he decided to have his own version installed.
Although the couple had owned the property since the mid-1990’s, Zardari only owned up to the fact in 2004, just before it was sold off for more than £4 million.
Since then the house – which features a £120,000 dining table – has been rented out with one tenant using it for a series of raves while another had used it for secret sex parties, although there’s no suggestion that anyone connected to the Zardari family participated.
Oxford-educated Bhutto, who was assassinated in a 2007 suicide bombing, claimed she never even visited the property.
Auctioneers Clarke Gammon Wellers say the property is in a derelict state and describes it as the “ideal development opportunity” in an area that is home to a surfeit of investment bankers and premier league footballers.
Nick Freeth, from Clarke Gammon Wellers, told the Press Association: “Local people know about the estate and so do people in Pakistan, it made headline news over there. The whole estate would suit someone looking for privacy but also be within 40 minutes of London.
“There is also a working airstrip, although I’m not sure I would like to land on it. So far we’ve had individuals and businesses looking at it. The estate would make a great home but also something like a school. They must have spent a lot of money on it but it wasn’t until 2004 that Zardari admitted they owned it. And Ms Bhutto denied ever even visiting it.
“There is a highly sophisticated air-conditioning system which was installed by them and it is thought to have cost £750,000 to install. Heating the place will cost around £13,000 a year so it’s not a home for the feint-hearted.
However, Mr Freeth insists that £10 million is still a bargain. “That price would only get you a four-bedroom home in Mayfair”.
The home is widely known as the ‘Surrey Mansion’ in Pakistan and was believed to be among a slew of properties owned by Zardari and his wife through various shell companies around the world.
Bhutto – who was PM for two terms from 1990 – 1996 – is said to have paved the way for wealthy landowner’s son Zardari to further line his pockets during her time in office.
The couple allegedly siphoned several hundreds of millions of dollars – some campaigners put the figure nearer $2 billion – through a variety of shady deals during Benazir’s time in office, taking kickbacks for everything from fighter jets to tractor parts.
The Rockwood Estate, available in whole or as 12 lots, will be auctioned off on July 4 by Clarke Gammon Wellers at the Radisson Blu in Guildford, Surrey.