Despite receiving flak for selling the iconic bungalow where the father of India’s nuclear programme, Homi Bhabha, had once resided, ‘Mehrangir’ went under the hammer for a record-breaking Rs 372 crore on Wednesday, making it the costliest deal per square feet in India. The sprawling 17,550 square foot property at Malabar Hill was auctioned at the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA).
The Mehrangir bungalow was once resided by Homi Bhabha, the father of Indian nuclear programme. Pic/Suresh KK
“Had there been no negative publicity, the bids would have been higher. We had eight bidders, but only three turned up at the end,” informed Suntook Khusro, Chairman of NCPA. After Bhabha’s death in a plane crash in 1966, his brother Jamshed became the custodian of the nearly 70-year-old estate.
In Jamshed’s will, the patron of art and culture bestowed the bungalow to the NCPA trust. The auction attracted a lot of protests, both by the science fraternity and political parties. The NCPA plans to use the proceeds from the auction for modernisation of its facilities.
“We are short of funds, and this money will be used to modernise the centre,” said Khusro, adding, “The BARC could have participated in the auction and taken the bungalow. While the estate is not a heritage property and the owner can use it as per their requirement, we hope the winner of the bid will use it for himself.”
According to the chairman, they had allowed people from the scientist fraternity to take away any documents of importance or connected to Dr Homi Bhabha, from the bungalow.
According to mid-day’s sources, the three final bidders included two top realtors and a person associated with the NCPA. “We’ve heard that Phiroza Godrej was the one with the highest bid, but nothing is confirmed,” informed a source.
However, when this reporter tried to contact Godrej, her secretary said that she is busy in meetings. Officials from the NCPA have maintained their silence about the winner, claiming that the new owner would like to remain anonymous.
“The sale of Mehrangir was also significant as it did not attract developers to the bidding process, and was led entirely by investors/ end users looking to create a personal landmark in the city. This was the primary reason why the final sale price was much higher than the reserved price.
A freehold property, such as this, which offers its buyer a clear and marketable title, are few and far in between in Mumbai, and therefore individual investors were interested.
The strategic location and architecture splendour is expected to be exploited for self use,” said Sanjay T, Executive Managing Director- South Asia of Cushman Wakefield, a real estate consultancy.