Russian refugee Leon Kamenev revealed as buyer of Australia’s most expensive property amalgamation

Leon Kamenev has come a long way since he arrived in Australia in 1990 as a refugee from the old Soviet Union.

From those early days in Sydney learning English by day and delivering pizzas at night he last week spent just shy of $80 million for four properties in Vaucluse to build his own private compound.

Leon Kamenev has been revealed as the buyer of the $80 million property amalgamation in Vaucluse.Leon Kamenev has been revealed as the buyer of the $80 million property amalgamation in Vaucluse. Photo: Paul Jones

Kamenev’s rise to become part of Australia’s ultra high net worth community was given a significant boost last year when the online takeaway delivery service Menulog he co-founded was sold, lining his pockets to the tune of $470 million.

Last year the 58-year-old entrepreneur made his debut on the BRW Rich List with a net worth of $308 million, thanks largely to his 55 per cent stake in Menulog.

Born in the Ukraine and schooled in Siberia before he graduated with an economics degree from the Moscow Academy of Management, Kamenev is set to be the owner of the most expensive amalgamation of properties in Australia once last week’s deal settles at just shy of $80 million.

The owners of 13, 13a and 15 and 15a [behind] Coolong Rd, Vaucluse have banded together to sell to Leon Kamenev for almost $80 million.

The owners of 13, 13a and 15 and 15a [behind] Coolong Rd, Vaucluse have banded together to sell to Leon Kamenev for almost $80 million. Photo: James Brickwood

The Australian record for a single house sale stands at $70 million for the nearby non-waterfront mansion La Mer, sold by James and Erica Packer last August to businessman Chau Chak Wang.

Despite no details forthcoming from Elliott Placks, of Ray White Double Bay, a source said a breakdown of the sale included $60 million for the double waterfront properties owned by the Shein family, and almost $20 million divided between the two, smaller street-front properties.

It’s a lucrative deal for all vendors involved.

The view of Sydney Harbour from 15 Coolong Road, Vaucluse.

The view of Sydney Harbour from 15 Coolong Road, Vaucluse. Photo: Laing + Simmons Double Bay

Colleen Shein, wife of technology entrepreneur and former Fairfax Media board member David Shein, first bought on Coolong Road in 2000 for $7.4 million, ending 90 years of ownership by the Todhunter family. The residence has since been rebuilt.

Shein added the neighbouring waterfront property with a boat shed for $14.05 million in 2010.

Shein’s two waterfront properties are set on a total of almost 3000 square metres of prized deep waterfrontage.

In 1995 15A Coolong Road, Vaucluse sold for $1.3 million.

In 1995 15A Coolong Road, Vaucluse sold for $1.3 million. Photo: Supplied

The remaining two houses are both non-waterfronts, the smallest of which was bought by Julia Singer, wife of lawyer Simon Singer, in 2013 for $5.51 million.

Businessman Avron Cohen and his wife Jean have owned their street-front home with a swimming pool since 1995 when they purchased it for $1.3 million.

The combined land involved in the deal is 4270 square metres, and at $80 million would incur an estimated stamp duty of $5.54 million.

The most expensive sale of a single family home was the $70 million sale of James Packer's Vaucluse mansion to Chau Chak Wing.

The most expensive sale of a single family home was the $70 million sale of James Packer’s Vaucluse mansion to Chau Chak Wing. Photo: Supplied

The amalgamated 4270-square-metre holding comes close to restoring the Todhunter family estate to its original size.

Kamenev, who is director and co-founder of the Slate Science educational technology company, was a majority owner of Menulog before it was sold to its British rival Just East last May for a reported $855 million.

According to a 2002 profile of Kemenev in BRW, his business breakthrough came a few years after he’d arrived in Australia when he was introduced to an Australian travel agent.

The two men invested $750 each to produce some “pretty dodgy-looking brochures” and Kamenev paid for his own air fare to Russia and enlisted a party of 10 Russian tourists.

That business model developed into HotelClub.com, which as part of the Flairview Technology company was sold to US company Cendant for about $US88 million in 2004.

Two years later Kamenev reinvested some of the proceeds from that sale into a start-up that became Menulog.

Menulog co-founder Dan Katz has also upgraded handsomely following the company sale, spending $20 million earlier this year for a waterfront house on The Crescent, also in Vaucluse.

Leon Kamenev’s property journey

67/6-8 Dive St MatravilleFirst home: 67/6-8 Dive St Matraville.

Kemenev bought his first home in Australia five years after he’d arrived, paying $227,500 in 1995 for a two-bedroom townhouse in Matraville.

Two years later he sold out of Matraville for $242,000, to trade up to a 1930s-era free-standing house set on a hillside with district views on Judge Street in Randwick. Records show Kemenev paid $520,000 for the house in 1997 and they sold it in 2003 for almost three times that amount at $1.49 million.

10 Judge Street RandwickSecond home: 10 Judge Street Randwick.

From Randwick Kemenev moved to Vaucluse paying $4.4 million in 2003 for his current Parsley Road mansion from the estate of the late Klara Saunders, the former wife of the late business tycoon John Saunders.

Kemenev’s Coolong Road acquisition is only a five-minute drive away but a significant step up the property ladder again.

29 Parsley Road VaucluseThird home: Parsley Road, Vaucluse.

thanks domain.com.au