The biggest property moves in Sydney for 2017

SMH/AFR. 19th of November 2017. Kristina Keneally and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten launch Labors campaign ahead of the Bennelong byelection at the Civic Hall in Ryde, Sydney. Photo Dominic Lorrimer
SMH/AFR. 19th of November 2017. Kristina Keneally and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten launch Labors campaign ahead of the Bennelong byelection at the Civic Hall in Ryde, Sydney. Photo Dominic Lorrimer

This was meant to be the year of the Rooster, according to the Chinese zodiac, but as far as Sydney's trophy-home owners are concerned, it was the year of the young rich-listers.

Take a bow Scott Farquhar, who at 37 years of age upgraded from his two-bedroom unit in Pyrmont to buy Australia's most expensive house, Elaine, for $71 million.

The same family owned Elaine in Point Piper for 126 years before it sold in April 2017.Elaine, Australia's most expensive home, went for $71 million. Photo: Supplied

Not so his Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes, who is still slumming it in his $12 million Centennial Park trophy home as he umms and ahhs over whether to buy the Bellevue Hill estate Rona. Or Barford. Or that harbourside house in Double Bay he wanted so badly.

It was a struggle that fellow young rich-lister Alistair Champion knows only too well. Not content with his $13.5 million purchase of the Woollahra trophy home Icilus, there were hopes of picking up a renovation job on the Point Piper waterfront for about $35 million near the home of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

But alas, that big-ticket deal fell through, and the Champ had to console himself with a follow-up deal of more than $8 million when he sold his Bellevue Hill home to PWC's head of M&A Matt Millar.

75 Ocean Street, Woollahra, New South Wales.Alistair Champion paid $13.5 million for Icilus. Photo: Supplied

Meanwhile, mining licence-owners and restaurateurs Brendan and Rowena McPherson took their well-earned dough from the sale of Icilus and bought the nearby Woollahra home of printing magnate Michael Hannan for $13 million.

And that was after former lawyer Sevag Chalabian had had his chance to buy it, but opted out soon after.

Internet boss Patrick Grove did well even for a Scots old boy, paying $28 million for his knock-down-rebuild on the Darling Point waterfront.

Patrick Grove paid $28 million for this home.Patrick Grove's knock-down-rebuild in Darling Point. Photo: Supplied

Ginia Rinehart isn't on any rich list, but the 31-year-old might be one day if she keeps playing her cards right.

As mum Gina took top honours on Forbes' Australia rich-list, Ginia and her husband Simon Robinson became Bondi hipsters thanks to the $14.75 million penthouse they bought in the Bondi Pacific from art collector Steve Nasteski.

The two-storey penthouse atop the Bondi Pacific has sold for shy of $15 million.Ginia Rinehart's Bondi Pacific penthouse. Photo: Supplied

Likewise, 28-year-old Alexander Ma may have had some help from his dad, Hong Kong press baron Ching-Kwan Ma, when he bought his seven-bedder in Vaucluse for $26.5 million.

Coal-mining heir Quentin Flannery, son of Brian, did more than just cop drug possession allegations, swapping his $5.5 million Woollahra digs for a $6.95 million flip in Bellevue Hill from serial renovator Juliet Black.

Primo Smallgoods heiress Kristie Ward, daughter of former rich-lister John Hunt, helped Robert and Kelly Salteri pay for their $27 million pad at Circular Quay when she bought their Northbridge home for $21 million.

Hollywood at home

Cate Blanchett and hubby Andrew Upton finally drew the curtain on the never-ending bid to sell their Hunters Hill home, Bulwarra.

The $18 million sale was a nice starter for the year, even if it was the second exchange on the historic home after property developer Richard Gu had pulled out of his $19.8 million offer of 2015.

Cate Blanchett formerly owned the suburb's historic Bulwarra mansion.Cate Blanchett finally sold her historic Bulwarra mansion. Photo: Supplied

Gu resurrected his local trophy plans, buying the Bayview modernist landmark Walker House for $7.95 million with the help of a complex mortgage arrangement with a few shark loan terms.

Russell Crowe almost sold his Finger Wharf apartment to luxury car importer Neville "Croaky" Crichton, but then realised he could keep the home and still settle on his marriage to Danielle Spencer by selling his Darlinghurst warehouse for $18.2 million to property developer Greg Shand.

He was last seen joining the conga line of buyers to make enquiries of the Hordern family's historic Bellevue Hill digs.

Russell Crowe has taken his 1000-square-metre spread at the exclusive tip of the Finger Wharf in Woolloomooloo off the market.Russell Crowe nearly offloaded his Woolloomooloo spread. Photo: Robert Pearce

Ultimately, the Horderns scored an offer of $22 million from another would-be buyer to match their asking price but changed their mind at the last moment, prompting speculation about how keen they were to sell in the first place.

It was headlines and high drama for Anthony Bell, not only for the courtroom revelations about his not-so-happy marriage to former TV presenter Kelly, but for his $11.5 million buy of his celebrity mate Larry Emdur's clifftop home in Dover Heights.

Hunter Street, Dover Heights house.Anthony Bell bought his friend Larry Emdur's Dover Heights house. Photo: Supplied

Politics in action

Mike Baird proved the hopeless state of Sydney property prices when he was forced to swap the state's top job for one at NAB, leaving him cashed up to take out a mortgage with his new employer on a $3.6 million house in North Curl Curl.

Federal Liberal candidate in the upcoming Bennelong byelection John Alexander knows his pain. Fresh from chairing the federal government's housing affordability inquiry he delivered some heartening words to the media about the plight of struggling first-home buyers, and then bought a $4.8 million horse stud at Moss Vale, called Iona Park.

The two-storey house has a parent's retreat and an open-plan living and dining area upstairs taking in the home's best ocean views.Mike Baird's new North Curl Curl digs. Photo: Supplied

The former tennis great has some stiff competition in next week's contest since Labor star candidate Kristina Keneally entered the tussle, kick-starting her campaign by buying a Scotland Island weekender for $1.8 million.

Winner gets to buy into the electorate.

Kristina Keneally splashed $1,875,000 in Bill's Bay.Kristina Keneally splashed $1,875,000 on this Bill's Bay property. Photo: Supplied

The media's real estate stars

Media heir Ryan Stokes made it official with new wife Claire with a harbour wedding and a $16 million matrimonial home in Darling Point that they finally moved into last week.

Ryan Stokes' new matrimonial home.Ryan Stokes' $16 million matrimonial home. Photo: Kelly Geddes

Still with the Seven Network, former chief David Leckie and his charity queen wife Skye took $10.5 million for their Centennial Park home from rag trader Nick Kelly, who is squiring Seven producer Madeleine Kennard.

Gretel Packer isn't really a media heir anymore, having settled on her part of her late father Kerry Packer's fortune, and she may not be a Bellevue Hill local for all eternity either after she bought an $8.75 million penthouse in Potts Point's Macleay Regis.

905 at 12 Macleay Street, Potts Point, New South Wales.Gretel Packer has bought the ornate Macleay Regis penthouse. Photo: Supplied

Phillip Adams bided his time finding just the right buyer for his $5.3 million Paddington landmark, the White House.

He says it was a fitting purchase by reality TV star-turned-US President Donald Trump, but records indicate the buyer was actually plastic surgeon Darryl Hodgkinson and his wife Katherine.

Phillip Adams at White House, 9 Forbes Street, Paddington. Images by Katherine Lu.Phillip Adams found a buyer for the White House in Paddington. Photo: Katherine Lu

Alan Jones' back surgery didn't keep him down long. He upgraded his status in the Bennelong building from renter to owner thanks to his $10.5 million buy, no doubt with some help from the $4.65 million sale of his Avoca Beach apartment sale for $4.65 million.

As ABC management moved to keep confidential the salaries of its top-earning stars, Leigh Sales celebrated by buying a $2.1 million house in Stanmore, and selling her Glebe home for $2.8 million.

Not to be outdone, Juanita Phillips and her Lefty boyfriend Greg Combet went all Avalon Now by returning to her Avalon Beach stomping ground and $2.7 million digs.

Juanita Phillips at 120 Avalon Parade, Avalon Beach NSW.Inside Juanita Phillips' Avalon Beach buy. Photo: Supplied

Foreign buyers missing in action

The only notable buyer from China to excite us all was sex toy magnate Peter Tseng.

He turned up at the most thrilling auction of the year to bid on the original number 4 licence plate, raised his hand soon after the first offer and left it up until all other comers in the room had packed up, securing him the piece of metal for $2.45 million.

The No.4 licence plate, seen on the Rolls-Royce of Aussie John Symond, now belongs to wine collector and sex toy magnate Peter Tseng.The No.4 licence plate above now belongs to Peter Tseng. Photo: Supplied

It is secured to his vintage 1969 Mercedes Benz 280SL.

Point Piper's deal-makers

Andrew Banks returned to our screens for another season of Shark Tank and to a $20 million-plus house back in his Point Piper fiefdom.

Western Sydney Wanderers chairman Paul Lederer finally did a deal on his high-end investment when it sold to retired car deal Ray Harris, who has made it a downsizer from his Elizabeth Bay trophy Ashton House, which he sold for $20 million.

The historic Ashton House has sold for $20 million to a neighbour.The historic Ashton House sold for $20 million to a neighbour. Photo: Supplied

Aussie John Symond was meant to produce our nation's first nine-digit sale, and could have thanks to an offer of more than $100 million, but instead he opted to keep his tax-free asset, and the sales commission that would have gone with it.

Deal-maker of the year has to be Crichton. He started the year banking the $60.66 million he was paid for his Point Piper waterfront from last year's exchange with stock trader Andy Wenlei Song, then went up the road and bought a $33 million "mini-me" mansion that was once owned by Lachlan and Sarah Murdoch.

110 Wolseley Road, Point Piper.Neville Crichton bought this Point Piper mansion for $33 million. Photo: Supplied

A few modifications to the house and he flipped it, selling for more than $36 million to property investor Andrew Potter, who in turn off-loaded his waterfront two-bedder around the corner for $20 million to hardware queen Sarah Mayo.

And given the talk among Turnbull's neighbours, Crichton's new wife Nadi Hasandedic might still score the deeds to another harbourfront home in her Christmas stocking yet.

* This story has been amended. It originally stated that Russell Crowe had been "in and out" of the Hordern family house.

This story The biggest property moves in Sydney for 2017 first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.