Monday, February 26, 2007

Have a Seat

Got an extra £385,000 ($753,000) burning a hole in your pocket?

That's the asking price for half of a box at the Royal Albert Hall for sale by Harrods Estates. For the price, the buyer gets an 861-year lease for five seats in box No. 15 on the grand tier, within shouting distance of the queen's box. The new owner will have to pay an annual service charge of about £450 ($880) and a premium for some events. Oh, and he or she will have to share the box with the owner of its other five seats.

The Royal Albert Hall (shown here) was built in 1871 according to plans initially devised by Albert, Victoria's prince consort, who wished to build a Great Hall on the model of the spectacular Roman amphitheatres. He envisioned an oval-shaped auditorium that would accommodate 30,000; after his death in 1861 the plans were scaled back and today the capacity of the hall is just one-sixth of that.

About 1,200 of the seats in the hall are privately owned, having been sold off in the nineteenth century to help pay for the building’s construction. At that time, 999-year leases on 1,300 seats went for a mere £100 each.

Related book: The Royal Albert Hall: A Victorian Masterpiece for the 21st Century (Art Books International, 2003)


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