Duke of Westminster net worth. Duke of Westminster and the inherited £10 billion property empire. This article is a short piece about Hugh Grosvenor who is the latest Duke of Westminster. He has been prepared all his life to inherit his Dukedom and the property empire that comes along with. Not just any property empire however. This is the Grosvenor property empire which controls huge parts of the most expensive parts of London. Because this website is all about property development and property investment there is obvious interest in the person and estate that controls so much of London and the development on that land. Like all our biographies we don’t really care about the individual, their personal life or anything like that. We just want to know is there anything we can learn from this guy and from a family that have managed to keep this huge wealth protected from inheritance taxes for generations.
So the history of the current Duke is not that interesting. He was born into this incredibly rich family and he has inherited it all. The more interesting aspect is the history of the family wealth. In 1677 Sir Thomas Grosvenor married the heiress Mary Davies. Her inheritance included a medieval manor in Middlesex and about 500 acres of swamp, orchards and pasture west of the capital. This area in time would become Belgravia and Mayfair, some of the most expensive real estate in the world.
In 1874 created a peerage ‘Duke of Westminster’ for Hugh Grosvenor the 3rd Marquess of Westminster. This is not a common occurrence. Making someone a duke who is not a member of the royal family has not made a duke since. The dukedom has been handed down through the family. The current duke is the 7th Duke.
The Grosvenor’s are well known because if you spend any time in London you will spot several street names and building names titled Grosvenor…. and people love speculating that they own more land in the UK than the Royal family. Even though they are incredibly wealthy they are not that wealthy compared to the other 2000 plus billionaires on the Forbes list. I guess its to do with their connection to the Royal family and that their land is in the most exclusive parts of London. Some of their properties include:
All the property that the Grosvenor trust owns is actually held in a trust. So the Duke of Westminster do not ‘own’ the property but control it. The land and property is a separate legal entity that never dies and the Grosvenor family take care of it – they are the custodians. Because the entity never dies no inheritance tax is due.
I am surprised that more people are not up in arms about this. The Grosvenor family do not manage and curate an existing estate for future preservation. They actively develop the land to grow their own wealth. This wealth is never subject to inheritance tax whereas every poor working class person loses almost half their wealth when they try pass it on. Most people in the UK have to pay 40% inheritance tax over a certain threshold. So if you are worth £50million you have a tax free threshold of maybe one million and the rest is taxed at 40%. This is not really fair is it? I guess if you are worth £50 million you too can afford to enter into trust agreements. But if you are say worth two million or something like that you are the one who really loses proportionally to your wealth.
I don’t want you to read this article and think that I dislike the Grosvenor trust. We really don’t care either way. We see that there are advantages in a trust for everyone. When you have a billionaire dollar wealth estate this estate in trust form can stay forever and create jobs and wealth. It is similar to the Scott trust that keeps the Guardian newspaper going. The activities of the Grosvenor trust leads to many jobs. If the trust was broken up the Government would find a way to waste it on consultants and before you know it the City of London is lacking serious capital for new developments. Its just it is completely unfair that people of lower means lose 40% of their wealth above the given threshold while people of serious means do not lose any of their wealth. And then we have to listen to praise of them for giving away millions to charity.
Lesson 1: If you have built up a huge wealth from property it is possible to hand it down to your family while avoiding inheritance taxes. The Grosvenor family control their wealth through trusts. The disadvantage of this is that the wealth is no longer yours but you still control it. Whats the difference? The Duke of Westminster’s net worth is over £10 Billion and counting.
Lesson 2: The current Duke is very private and doesn’t encourage publicity. This is something to be admired as he could easily be an Instagram show-off but he has avoided all that. This means he can walk down the street without anyone annoying him but also it means people are not stirred up against his family and their inheritance tax dodging trust.
Lesson 3: Charity work looks good. I am being very cynical here but the Grosvenor’s get a lot of praise for charity work giving millions away. I would point to the lack of inheritance tax that they avoid paying which would be in the realm of billions.