Skyhigh (2nd generation) [c.1984-c.1996]

Submitted by David on Mon, 06/01/2015 - 12:32
Current condition
Demolished / No longer exists
Date completed
(Day, Month, & Year are approximate.)
Date closed / demolished
(Day, Month, & Year are approximate.)

Built by HSBC as the house from their chairman. The SCMP has an article about it (…). Here's an extract:

Skyhigh, with its 360-degree panoramic views of the city, was the taipan house built on the instructions of former Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp chairman Michael Sandberg in the 1980s.

William Purves, who took over as chairman in 1986, sold it to Japanese department store tycoon and Yaohan International founder Kazuo Wada five years later for HK$85 million, a huge transaction that many believed was a windfall for the bank at the time.

Another five years later and the property was sold for 4.4 times that amount - HK$375 million, or HK$18,750 per square foot - when Wada was forced to sell Skyhigh to Pearl Oriental Holdings (now named Sun's Group) when his business empire ran into financial problems in late 1996.

Pearl Oriental chairman Wong Kwan had the mansion demolished shortly after buying it to make way for the building of five villas worth HK$120 million each.

I've guessed the demolition date based on that article - corrections are welcome.

Compradore has identified 1982 as the completion date in the comments below.

Previous place(s) at this location


Photos that show this Place



I find it strange that this house was constructed in the 1980s.  I thought it was earlier than that and I am thinking it was 1978/79.  The details of this generation of Skyhigh are sketchy.  For instance, when the house was sold in '91 for $85 million, some sources said it was at a big profit, but others said the bank took a loss on it.

When HSBC contested Standard Chartered's takeover for the the Royal Bank Bank of Scotland in 1980, Lord Sandberg made quite a splash in Britain.  I believe one article in the UK press claimed that he was already living in a house at the top of Hong Kong's Peak, though I recall it did not name the house.  I suppose this article could have been referring to previous taipan house on Plantation Road.

The RBS chairman in 1980, M. A. R. Herries, was familiar with HSBC because he was previously Jardine Matheson's taipan in Hong Kong.

It seems articles in the UK press (circa '81) seem to suggest that HSBC chairman M G R Sandberg lived in a house at the highest point in Hong Kong named Skyhigh.  However, the same article says Sandberg was redeveloping a house he owns that overlooked the bay.

Another article from a few years later estimated the cost of Skyhigh as between $45 million and $90 million, which makes me wonder if the bank really did complete the house well into Sandberg's tenure as taipan.  For reference, the board approved the redevelopment of the bank HQ in 1980. 

If anyone recalls, there was also a huge range of cost estimates for the new HQ before it was completed.

David, please change the construction complete date to 1982.  I found the answer in a comment I made five-years ago on The Ridge - 8 Pollock's Path.

The pdf file included in the comment was a newspaper article from 1985 about the former owner of The Ridge, Mr. Fung King Hey.  It said Mr. Fung was never Mr. Sandberg's neighbor on Pollock's Path because he (Fung) sold his villa in 1981 and Skyhigh was completed in 1982. The article goes on to estimate that Skyhigh cost between $40-100 million HKD and the glass alone cost $7 million.

Looking at IDJ's 1969 gem , it seems there was a house at the Skyhigh site, albeit a much smaller white one.

Far Eastern Economic Review's 1983 Yearbook mentions Skyhigh and wrote that it would be ready in a matter of weeks for Michael Sandberg.  It goes on to mention the landscaping and construction cost ($28Mn), but not the cost of land that the bank already owned.  Please set the completion date to Jan 1984. 

I think FEER is probably the most reliable source about the completion date.  However, if other sources put the total cost (including land) of this generation Skyhigh at $45-90Mn, then I think it is likely the bank acquired the site in the late-'70s, early-'80s. 

If the bank owned the site and acquired it pre-war, there is no way the land cost would push the total budget to $45Mn and above.