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Carton HouseIn the late 1980’s I worked as a real estate agent in Sydney, Australia.

One of my clients at the time had done a deal with the Irish government where they agreed to give him citizenship (an Irish passport) in return for taking all his money there, and a no-income-tax status for five years.

He asked me to find him a castle for up to ten million Irish pounds and paid for my return flight, hotel and car hire (in cash) and I spent ten days there based at the Shelbourne Hotel on St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin.

The deal was that I would get a commission of 5% of the purchase price. A huge amount of money in those days.

I grew up in Ireland and had a lot of contacts there so I looked at half a dozen properties for him. The one I found which was a ‘silent sale’ was a perfect match and was ‘Carton House‘ in County Kildare (the seat of the Dukes of Leinster). Peter Sellers was renting one of the wings of the house then. It had over 50 rooms.

I negotiated a deal on his behalf and arranged the exchange of contracts with the lawyers in Dublin. Right in the middle of this I had a telephone call from one of his staff to say “Stop the deal your client is in hospital”. So I flew back to Sydney. This was in 1989.

Carton_DiningI had a large file then which I kept at my office which included information on various properties I had looked at in Ireland for him as well as videos and photographs. The entire file was stolen one night, but there were no signs of a break-in, the lock on the office front door seemed perfect to me. And anyway I am not an expert in locks.

My client was apparently involved in various shady enterprises (horse racing; betting was one of them). He was a night-owl and only did business after dark. I often went to see him at his home to discuss different property deals but usually at 11 o’clock at night or later.

You probably won’t believe this but he always sat in a wing-back leather chair next to a roaring fireplace in his living room, and he never stood up when I was there. I don’t know why.

There are people who said he was actually Australia’s ‘Godfather’ (Capo di tutti capi), the head of the Mafia.

I can’t comment on that. I liked him and we got on well.

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