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Late tycoon’s former Bermuda home for sale

Sky's the limit: Skyline Cottage, said to be in need of renovation and once the home of Canadian tycoon KC Irving (Photograph by The Property Group)

The former home of a Canadian tycoon once listed among the richest people in the world is up for sale with a pricetag of $1.9 million.

Skyline Cottage, near the Fairmont Southampton, was bought by billionaire businessman Kenneth Colin Irving, known as K.C., in 1971 after a row with the Canadian government over taxes and death duties.

The Bermuda residence was a vital link in the controversial creation of a island-based trust designed to avoid high taxes in Canada.

Mr Irving, who died in 1992 aged 93 and was in 1989 listed as the eleventh wealthiest man in the world, was born in New Brunswick and built a business empire spanning oil and gas, timber and vehicle sales from a single Ford franchise opened in the 1920s.

K.C. Irving Ltd owns around 300 private companies, mostly in New Brunswick and Quebec provinces, with interests in oil, timber, mining, shipbuilding, construction, real estate, the media and transportation.

The company is a major employer in New Brunswick and a huge landowner.

Mr Irving’s widow Winnifred continued to live at Skyline Cottage, on South Road, Warwick, after Mr Irving’s death.

She was one of the three trustees of the Bermudian-based trust established by Mr Irving’s will, which required the trustees to live outside Canada.

The trust, which controlled island-based Irving holding companies, was dissolved around ten years ago after Mr Irving’s three sons decided to divide up the family conglomerate.

Mr Irving’s son, J.K., 89, said in a letter to Atlantic Business magazine that his father was forced to move outside Canada to avoid proposed death taxes and duties, which were expected to be as high as 80 per cent.

J.K. Irving wrote: “This would have been devastating to the businesses as they would have had to have been sold to pay the anticipated death duties and taxes.”

He added that the “collapse of a life’s work of growing jobs and enterprises” was “not acceptable” to his father.

J.K. Irving said: “He would move to Bermuda to ensure the survival of the companies and the related jobs. We would much rather have had him around.”

But he added the move allowed the Irving empire to stay in the Maritime region of Canada and “sustained thousands of jobs”.

The Irving empire is now owned and controlled by businesses and citizens resident in Canada.

The three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom home is an extension of an original much older two-bedroom cottage on the site and sits in 1.6 acres of land with stunning views over Jew’s Bay and the Great Sound.

The listing by The Property Group describes the house as having “great bones” but in need of “some cosmetic updating”.

Real estate agent Sally Ann Smith said: “In its day, I’m sure it was a lovely house.”

But she added the property, including the kitchen, would need “a complete remodelling”.

Ms Smith said: “You’ve got a lot of much bigger and more luxurious houses than this one. But it has quite a lot of potential to some people. The golf course is just across the road and it has the facilities of the hotel right next door to it.”

The price of the property, on the market for six months, has been lowered because it has fallen out of the available to non-Bermudian buyers category, which has reduced the potential market.

The current owner is said to be Canadian, but it is not known if the Irving trust or a family member continued to own the property.