Penthouse poised to set $20m record

WHAT price a room with a view of the Port Melbourne foreshore - $1 million … $5 million? Try $20 million. That's the asking price for developer Elias Jreissati's private eyrie, which will set a record for Victorian apartment prices if it finds a buyer with that amount of cash to splash.

But, of course, it is not your average room with a view. At 1040 square metres, the sprawling penthouse is one of Melbourne's largest, occupying the top two levels of the HMAS Lonsdale building, designed by architect Nonda Katsalidis.

The Rouse Street property has five bedrooms, five bathrooms and a kitchen on each floor. And then there is the 1800-bottle ''cellar'' and a rooftop garden with space for 100 guests.

The property houses one of Australia's most valuable private art collections, including Brett Whiteley's Lavender Bay at Dusk, which Mr Jreissati bought for $1.12 million in 2001. The collection is protected by ''military-grade coding and security''.

Mr Jreissati, an influential figure in political circles and generous benefactor to the Labor and Liberal parties, paid $3.75 million for the apartment in 2003. He has entertained the likes of Ted Baillieu and Steve Bracks in the massive dining room overlooking Port Phillip Bay.

Listing agent Kay & Burton will conduct an invitation-only inspection of the property at a lavish function coinciding with the Melbourne Grand Prix next month.

In 2010, Mr Jreissati bought the entire 82nd floor of the Eureka Tower for $6.67 million. Sources say the 620-square-metre shell, with its 360-degree views of the city, is now undergoing a luxury fitout.

The record price for a Victorian apartment was set by the $19.3 million sale of an East Melbourne penthouse on the 11th floor of the 150 Clarendon Street development in 2008.

The market for top-end apartments has dropped sharply since 2010, with the $9 million sale of a full-floor penthouse in the Royal Domain Towers on St Kilda Road believed to be the highest price paid for two years.