Bond Street was the most expensive street in Europe and the third in the world, with only Causeway Bay in Hong Kong and Upper 5th Avenue in New York in 2019 – so it’s perhaps no wonder that even a pandemic will appeal.
A new documentary has revealed how the luxury strip, which runs between London’s Oxford Street and Piccadilly, has returned in style after Britain’s three lockdowns.
The sales made after non-essential shops reopened on April 12 included a £310,000 James Bond car, a Banksy that cost £250,000, a £22,000 map of the capital and jewels galore – such as a stunning pair £15,000 diamond earrings.
And if that wasn’t enough, rows along the Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Dior buildings confirmed that the street was back in business during filming for ITV’s Billion Pound Bond Street, which airs tomorrow at 9pm.
It comes after the wealth of the super-rich increased by an estimated 25 percent during the pandemic.
A new documentary has revealed how Bond Street, which runs between London’s Oxford Street and Piccadilly, has returned in style after England’s three lockdowns. Pictured, Michael Wainwright of British Jewelers Boodles examines a pink diamond worth £3.2million
Pictured, Bonhams Auctioneers flagship retail space in New Bond Street
Following their reopening, Dior’s store manager Christopher Watney says: “All the private rooms are actually fully booked all week, so very, very happy to see that.”
British luxury jeweler and family business Boodles had already filled its appointment book after reopening its doors.
For the last resident of Bond Street, Oli Claridge, who inherited a protected lease from his father, it was no surprise that the super-rich rushed back to the area in their glamorous Aston Martin and Rolls-Royce cars.
“I don’t think people have had enough things to spend their money on and now that they do and go home with a bag with Cartier on it, they’re suddenly alive,” he tells director Michael Waldman.
“Poor stuff,” he says as he passes a long line of customers waiting to shop at Louis Vuitton.
‘I have half a mind to ask them what they think they will find when they get in? Wouldn’t it be great if they came in and it was a branch of Greggs,” he jokes.
Adam Lees (pictured) Chief Chocolatier at royal chocolate maker Charbonnel and Walker said the Queen has a list of favorite chocolates at the company
Pictured: British Jewelers Boodles store in New Bond Street
“I think people are kind of desperate to get out there and spend money,” said a Boodles employee.
Bond Street florist Pete Watkins admits they were “busier than he thought”, adding: “We’ve got some nice customers and they’ve all come back.”
Customers returning to the luxury stores reveal that they bought glamorous items such as gold rings and even Louis Vuitton slippers.
One woman admits: “[I’m buying] one of the Chanel bags released last month. It’s a post-lockdown gift, [costing] £5,500.’
During the program, a James Bond car, used in one of the films, sells for £310,000, while a Banksy piece costs £250,000.
The Mercury Cougar Convertible was one of the few purchased by Eon Productions for use in the filming of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
“We are still in shock. We’re a bit stunned,” the owners say, after the vehicle sold for much higher than the reserve.
Bond Street has been London’s most exclusive shopping street for 300 years. Pictured, New Bond Street road sign
In the photo, father and son Pete and Pete Watkins own the flower stall at the top of Bond Street
Commenting on the Bond Street boom, a pop-up antiques store owner says, “The stock market has grown tremendously… all assets have gone up, so people who had money have more money.”
While resident Oli says: ‘It’s not a flash in the pan, this street will be there when humanity is gone.’
And it’s not just expensive clothes and jewelry that are available on the street; at Royal chocolatier Charbonnel et Walker, a box of chocolates can cost up to £280.
The company owes its existence to the royal sweet tooth – it opened on Bond Street in 1875 when Edward VII asked his favorite chocolatier Madame Charbonnel to move from Paris to London.
Chef chocolatier Adam Lee explains: ‘We have many photos of the Queen and the Royal Family in the shop, which were given to us by The Palace.
“The Queen does have a list of her favorite chocolates… All I can say is she has a very floral taste.”
Mr Lee adds: ‘The Queen does have a list of favorite chocolates with us. But I can’t tell you that directly.
‘However, I can only say that she has a very floral taste, which may become apparent when we look at the chocolates a little later… but perhaps we should start with our two most popular chocolates, rose and violet cream. I never said a word, never said a word.’
Michael Wainwright of British Jewelers Boodles has a pink diamond worth £3.2 million (pictured)
British luxury jeweler and family business Boodles had already filled its appointment book after reopening its doors. Pictured, a pink diamond worth £3.2 million
The rents and rates on Bond Street are huge, but the luxury designer brands all want to be there.
As one shopper explains: ‘You don’t go to Dior just for a bag, because you can buy it online. You go for an experience.’
In the Christian Dior flagship store, where dresses are considered ‘pieces of art’ and prices are hidden in clothing, the champagne cork is popped from 11 a.m.
Store manager Christopher Watney reveals: “We offer drinks to all our customers. Every customer who enters the House of Dior.’
With a billion pounds spent on Bond Street every year, the eye-watering rent is perhaps unsurprising.
Chanel recently bought ownership of their shop for £310 million in a real estate investment bidding war, despite having already spent more than £40 million setting up the shop as tenants when they opened four years earlier.
Past residents of Bond Street have included Admiral Lord Nelson, while composer Handel and musician Jimi Hendrix lived just around the corner.
But now there are almost no residents, with the exception of garden designer Oli, who has been a resident for 20 years thanks to his unique lease on a flat after taking over his father’s original lease from the 1970s.
He can’t use the old Bond Street access road to his flat – which has been closed off by the building’s owners because, he says, the space behind it rents £150,000 a year – so Ollie found a solution eight years ago.
‘I now use a discreet entrance at the back, like a movie star, or someone going back to the plastic surgeon.
‘Guy Burgess the spy lived here, in this flat, until his flight to Russia, I think he had a lot of parties here. Then I think it was a brothel after that. It was kind of unhealthy, Bond Street. Unfortunately not anymore,” he says.