New Scotland Yard, the headquarters of London's storied police force and one of the British capital's most famous landmarks, has been sold to an Abu Dhabi investor, paving the way for its macabre but private museum to open to the public elsewhere.
The 20-storey block in central London is famous around the globe as the home of the Metropolitan Police Service and for the rotating triangular sign in front of it nicknamed "the revolving cheese" by locals.
The sale, for €468.7 mln, is part of a trend that has seen well-known public buildings sold in recent years to tap soaring real estate prices. The building, which sold for €152 mln more than the suggested price, will be transformed into luxury flats.
The transaction paves the way for a remarkable collection of artefacts -- from the ricin-filled pellet fired from an umbrella to kill Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov on a London bridge in 1978 to cooking pots used by a serial killer to boil up his victims -- to go on public display. They had previously been housed in a private invitation-only "Black Museum" at New Scotland Yard but will now be moved to a new public museum in a location that has yet to be chosen.
The London Mayor's Office said policing enthusiasts and fans of Scotland Yard-related detective stories such as Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes and novels by the likes of Agatha Christie and P.D. James would benefit. Visitors will be able to see rare crime artefacts and heritage items that tell the story of Scotland Yard, the mayor's office said. "We didn't sell the New Scotland Yard brand," a spokeswoman from the Mayor's office told Reuters. "We're taking the brand with us and the essence of what the police force is."
Abu Dhabi Financial Group said it hoped the redeveloped building would become a new London landmark. “The New Scotland Yard site will be one of the most important redevelopment projects undertaken in central London this decade, replacing a world famous headquarters with a world class development," said group CEO Jassim Alseddiqi. Foreign investors have poured money into London as a safe haven in turbulent times. But they have been criticized for inflating London property costs -- house prices have jumped by some 20% over the past year.