Submitted by Editor on Mon, 17/03/2014 - 11:57

It is now nearly 3 weeks since the St Stephen's Playfair Trust (SSPT) failed to have its community bid for the 'New Town icon' accepted by the General Trustees of the Church of Scotland (Breaking news, 27.2.14). The rumour mill concerning the identity of the successful bidder has been working overtime since.

This morning, SSPT contacted supporters and claimed to have discovered the purchaser's name, although it says that this must remain confidential at present. He is, apparently, the 'multi-millionaire owner of a media empire'.

SSPT is keen to meet the purchaser with a view to discussing a long-term vision for the building's cultural and community use and preservation. But the person concerned has declined such a conversation 'until the legals have been completed'.

 SSPT's message this morning was that:

The best outcome would be for us to be able to work with the successful bidder on the plan for St Stephen's that would ensure its glorious succes for decades, if not centuries, to come. A lack of long term vision might be the one reason for such an outcome to falter.

In the meantime, SSPT is keeping its channels with the Council open in case they mutually agree that the latter's Right of Pre-emption needs to be invoked (Breaking news, 3.6.13).

So who is it?
SSPT's mention of a media empire has thrown all previous speculations into disarray. Readers will of course have their own favourite media barons, but here are a select few who would make a distinctive contribution to the New Town and wider Edinburgh arts scene:

Syivio Berlusconi, Italian politician, businessman, media mogul, 'bon viveur'
Richard Branson, adventurer and business tycoon behind Virgin Books, Liquid Comics, Virgin Connect and Virgin Media TV (plus around 394 others)
Richard Desmond, newspaper and magazine proprietor, owner of Channel 5, Television X and Red Hot TV
Rupert Murdoch, all-round regular bloke, Chairman and CEO of News Corp and 21st Century Fox. 

Bang go the previous theories
Until this morning, Spurtle had received four supposedly cast-iron assurances about the identity of the purchaser, all of them different:

  • Carol Grigor (née Høgel), musician and – through the Dunard Trust – benefactor of the arts in Scotland 
  • Angus Grossart, Chairman and Chief Executive of merchant bank Noble Grossart, known to have a keen interest in fine art 
  • Robert McDowell, artist, economist, and now owner of the Summerhall creative hub in the former Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies premises
  • A mystery amateur ballet enthusiast from south of the border.

If you've been told the successful bidder's identity in strictest confidence, why not share it with us? We'll pass it on  to everyone else in Broughton whilst of course respecting your wish to remain unnamed as our source. Contact us by email at on Facebook Broughton Spurtle or Twitter @theSpurtle 

Berlusconi photo above: Creative Commons (Wikipedia)


could it be

sadly not as it's a bloke.

Unless she's working under an assumed name. But that would never happen.