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George Calombaris sells Toorak mansion


The price has also been kept under wraps. George and his wife, Natalie, paid $4.75 million for the pad in 2013 – a deal sealed at the height of the souvlaki and chips with feta boom.

An expression of interest sign was first placed outside the five-bedroom French provincial-style home on February 10, the same day corporate undertakers KordaMentha were appointed to pick over the carcass of Made.

The collapse forced the closure of 12 venues, including the souvlaki chain Jimmy Grants and three Hellenic Republic Greek restaurants. At the time, the company employed 364 permanent and casual staff. Meanwhile, former Swisse vitamins boss Radek Sali, Made’s sole director, did his dough to the tune of $11.5 million.

Various bits of the business have been flogged off since. Part of the Jimmy Grants went to the owners of Melbourne Greek institution Stalactites, while the Yo-Chi frozen yoghurt stores ended up in the hands of the sons of Boost Juice founder Janine Allis.

That sale was completed to satisfy Made’s largest creditor, the Commonwealth Bank, which was owed $8.5 million.

Prominent immigration agent Lily Ong handled the deal. On Tuesday, the agent and solicitor said she was representing the new owner, but was coy when contacted by CBD, noting that the house is not in Calombaris’ name (it’s in the name of his wife).

“Other than that I can’t comment,” she said.

LEFT RIGHT OUT

Liberal numbers man Adam Wojtonis is facing a grilling from some parts of the party over a submission he put together on a federal electoral redistribution in Victoria.

As this column revealed on Monday, the Libs’ submission for Kevin Andrews’ seat of Menzies proposed to cut a slice out of the electorate which just happened to include the home of Andrews’ main challenger for pre-selection, barrister Keith Wolahan.

Party burghers maintain it’s just a coincidence and that the submission had nothing to do with factional politics or an attempt to put Wolahan on the back foot by making him campaign as an “outsider”. Party sources said the rationale behind the submission was to account for the creation of a new seat in Melbourne’s inner north.

And besides, Kevin Andrews himself doesn’t even live in the electorate.

Party administrative sources confirmed on Tuesday that Andrews has lived in Ivanhoe which is part of the Labor-held electorate of Jagajaga. Andrews did live in Menzies before but was cut out of the electorate in a federal redistribution more than two decades ago.

BURY THE HATCHET

It’s been an icy four years for the Victorian Liberal Party and it’s main funding arm, the Cormack Foundation. But it appears the two outfits have struck a peace deal of sorts.

The Cormack Foundation has agreed to hand the Victorian Liberals $600,000 to fund the creation of a new membership database and record-keeping system. And at a time when KordaMentha auditors are combing the political party’s records as part of an investigation into branch stacking allegations, it seems the investment couldn’t come soon enough.

State director Sam McQuestin confirmed the deal on Tuesday, saying it was the result of “a lot of work done to repair the relationship” between the party and the privately controlled funding arm, by “president [Robert Clark] and those around him”.

“It’s just a really good sign of goodwill,” he added.

No kidding. After all, it was less than two years ago that the Liberal Party blew away more than $1 million taking the Cormack Foundation directors to Victoria’s Federal Court, alleging that the party was entitled to more seats on the board, and a bigger share of the $70 million it had under management. Justice Jonathan Beach found that the Liberals were entitled to 25 per cent of the funding body, but critically, found that this stake didn’t guarantee the party seats on the board. In the wake of the case, the Cormack directors, which include Rupert Murdoch’s brother-in-law, John Calvert-Jones, and former Business Council of Australia president Hugh Morgan, admitted two Liberal representatives to the board – former PM John Howard and former senator Richard Alston.

Since then, relations have remained tense, in part due to a claim from some Liberals that the foundation owes the party millions in maintenance payments. The foundation has said that it has stopped handing out cash so it can grow funds under its management. It seems this week’s deal might be a compromise for both camps.

BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE

Credit:John Shakespeare

Australian Parliament’s very first Speakers’ Chair is available to buy as part of businessman Trevor Kennedy’s private collection which will be put for auction at the end of the month.

Kennedy sold almost half of the collection of Australiana-themed furniture, curios and collectibles earlier this year to the National Museum of Australia in Canberra. The chair – which is regarded as the most valuable item of the lot – was the subject of negotiations between the museum and the businessman which ultimately went nowhere.

It’s now been put to auction with a price guide of $300,000 to $500,000. Perhaps that’s the reason why the museum baulked. However, the historic item has attracted interest from Aussie buyers based in the UK and the US according to Leonard Joel auctioneer Hamish Clark.

Of course, the upholstered chair has seen a bit in its time. It was first used at the opening ceremony for the Parliament of a federated Australia, which took place in the Melbourne Exhibition Building on May 9, 1900.

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