Libyan ambassador’s Rockcliffe mansion listed for cool $7M

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The former Rockcliffe Park residence of the Libyan ambassador, a stately 7,000-square-foot house, is on the market for $7 million. Photo by Julie Oliver, The Ottawa Citizen.

It was the home of former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s emissaries to Canada, and for just $7 million, it can be yours.

The former Rockcliffe Park residence of the Libyan ambassador has been listed for sale for a week, and though the real estate market is soft, the realtor handling the property says two embassies and one private individual have expressed interest in the sprawling mansion, though none has yet made an offer.

“It’s an absolutely gorgeous home and the quality of construction is excellent,” said Clarence Sheahan, the real estate agent with ReMax Metro City who listed the home through the current Libyan officials in Ottawa.

The Crescent Road residence was built about 10 years ago and was first owned by the prominent Rockcliffe couple Michel and Diana Bedos. And its $7-million asking price — the same price the Libyans paid for it in 2005 — would confirm its status as the second-most expensive home ever to change hands on the Ottawa market.

(The city’s biggest transaction remains the $8.25 million paid in 2005 for the Lansdowne Road mansion built by hi-tech tycoon Antoine Paquin, Sheahan said.)

The mansion has remained virtually empty since the February 2011 uprising in Libya when forces opposing Gadhafi’s regime took control and formed a transitional government based in Benghazi. After the uprising, the Gadhafi family’s assets were frozen; Gadhafi was later captured alive in Sirte by members of the Libyan National Liberation Army and subsequently killed last October by members of the army.

The former Libyan ambassador to Canada was Ahmed Jarrud, and the present senior counsellor is Sulaiman Mohamed, said Sheahan.

The estate sits on one of the largest lots in Rockcliffe, on the same block as the residences of the Spanish and Turkish ambassadors and overlooking the Chinese ambassador’s home. From the street it looks like any other contemporary Rockcliffe home.

But inside it encompasses about 10,000 square feet on the main levels, excluding the finished basement area, and features a main-floor hallway 70 feet long, five grand entertainment rooms that are ideal for embassy receptions, and a convenient elevator that zips visitors upstairs. It boasts 10 bathrooms, nine bedrooms, and in one section has a 20-foot ceiling. For pet-lovers, there is a private dog-shower stall in the basement.

Though the residence is available furnished, it features none of the gaudy trappings and extreme opulence of former Libyan president Gadhafi’s palaces, and is more in keeping with the style of homes in the area. Only a few fancy carpets in the home give nod to the Middle Eastern culture.

Shortly after the house was sold to the Libyans, Saif al-Islam (Sword of Islam), the second son of Gadhafi, came to Ottawa and was feted at a lavish reception in the ambassador’s residence, Sheahan said. He doesn’t know if the son slept at the home, but he remembers meeting him at the reception along with his entourage and other members of the diplomatic corps.

“He seemed like a very nice gentleman,” Sheahan recalled.

Saif al-Islam was arrested last November in southern Libya and flown to Zintan by plane, where he is still being detained.

The grounds are just under an acre and beautifully maintained and landscaped, Sheahan said, adding that Diana Bedos had three interior designers working with her on the home’s design and furnishings.

Another striking feature of the home is a two-storey, two-bedroom, two-bathroom guest suite incorporated within the main-floor living room area, but with separate entrances and privacy for visiting relatives or guests, said Sheahan.

“It’s like a house within a house. You can use it as part of the house or a totally self-contained unit that functions like a townhouse — but townhouses are not that wide,” said Sheahan, adding the unit also has its own kitchen and a private staircase that leads up to the second floor.

The master bedroom is on the second floor and features a barrel ceiling and a large ensuite bathroom with a marble floor and big, old-fashioned tub. And each of the rooms in the home has built-in surround-sound speakers.

“The house is phenomenally finished and probably unlike any other home in Rockcliffe,” Sheahan said.

By Tony Lofaro, The Ottawa Citizen

alofaro@ottawacitizen.com

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