Although Rudolf Nureyev’s defection to the West took place in Paris, he subsequently made London his home, first staying in Nigel Gosling and Maude Lloyd’s house in Kensington and then buying a property of his own in Richmond. In 1967 he paid £45,000 for the Old Farm; now, on the 20th anniversary of the dancer’s death, it’s on the market for £10.5 million!
In 1961 the Cold War was raging; Rudolf Nureyev was just 23 years old and already one of the most spectacular ballet stars in the world. As the Kirov Ballet set out on a European tour, the Soviet authorities were already concerned by Nureyev’s unorthodox behaviour. But as the senior ballet dancer was injured, they had no choice but to send him abroad. Their worst fears were realised when, having been ordered to return to Moscow, he threw himself on the mercy of the French authorities at Paris airport. France allowed him political asylum and he started dancing in Europe. Along with their close friend Margot Fonteyn, the Goslings assisted Nureyev at the start of his career in the West and Nigel Gosling also worked with Rudolf in writing his autobiography.
Six years after his dramatic defection, Nureyev bought the six-bedroom Old Farm in Richmond. At the time it belonged to John Guillermin, the film director who put Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile on the big screen. It remained his principal residence until his death in 1993, a place where he entertained lavishly and spent time with famous friends, including his long-term dance partner, Margot Fonteyn. He also owned properties in on the Amalfi Coast of Italy and in Paris.
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