Auction house pays $20m for stately Toorak mansion

Darnlee at 33 Lansell Road could become a Smith & Singer auction house.


Former lord mayor Gary Singer and his husband, Geoffrey Smith, have purchased a 47 bedroom Toorak mansion for their eponymous auction house.

BlueCross vacated Darnlee earlier this year.

The c1899 Darnlee, in tree-lined Lansell Road, is setting the executives back just shy of $20 million, according to sources.

On 3587 square metres, the red brick Queen Anne was offered by BlueCross which repurposed it after 1993 as an aged care facility.

The Toorak site spreads 3587 square metres.

That group also extended the property with a triple storey structure.

Red Cross is another former owner, occupying Darnlee between 1966-1976 as a professional development centre.

Pastoralist John Winter-Irving and Blake & Riggall founder Harold Riggall have also held the keys.

Next chapter for Darnlee

Designed in 1899 by Leonard John Flannagan for clothes manufacturer Charles McIntyre, Darnlee is set to become a Smith & Singer showroom, or ‘arts and crafts centre’.

In an application being reviewed by council, the incoming owners say they expect to have no more than eight visitors a day, for the business of selling works.

Its events, it added, a relatively intimate, usually with no more than 60 clients or client couples.

Visits are by appointment only too, it added (story continues below).

Gary Singer and Geoffrey Smith are now selling St Kilda’s Eildon.

The company also intends to fit out some spaces with rooms for framing and manufacturing.

Other areas meanwhile will be used for offices, display areas, store rooms and event spaces.

Simon Greenwood Architects has been appointed to redesign the mansion, which is expected to trade Monday to Friday between 8:30-6pm.

Auction events typically run between 6-8:30pm with no food or alcohol, according to the application.

Eildon plan off the table

With the Eildon purchase, Mr Smith and Mr Singer have moved to sell St Kilda’s historic Eildon mansion, which they bought 15 months ago also with plans for the business to occupy.

Having carried out some structural improvements and cosmetic work, that dwelling on 3580 sqm carries $11-$12m price hopes.

The pair paid $10.45m.

That seller was the Alliance Francoise de Melbourne which occupied the property as a language school.

Mr Smith and Mr Singer, for the auction house, also own 12 Collins Street in the CBD after paying $12m in 2016.

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Marc Pallisco

A former property analyst and print journalist, Marc is the publisher of