14 Dec 2015

Dotcom ditches Coatesville mansion

8:18 am on 14 December 2015

Kim Dotcom has moved out of the sprawling Auckland mansion that was the centre of the armed raid in which he was arrested in 2012.

Kim Dotcom's mansion in Coatesville in January 2013.

Kim Dotcom's mansion in Coatesville in January 2013. Photo: AFP

The internet entrepreneur, who is waiting on a district court decision as to whether he should be extradited to the United States, will take up residence in an apartment on Princes Wharf from today.

He has also confirmed to RNZ he still owes about $2 million in outstanding legal fees to his former New Zealand lawyers.

Mr Dotcom began renting the mansion in Coatesville, north of Auckland, in 2010 at a cost of $1 million a year.

However, the ongoing cost of his legal battle to stay in New Zealand had forced him to downgrade his accommodation to a mere four-bedroom penthouse overlooking Waitemata harbour.

The FBI wants to bring Mr Dotcom and three other men to the US to face charges of copyright infringement, racketeering and money-laundering over their file-sharing website, Megaupload.

Mr Dotcom ran Megaupload from the mansion, which was raided in the early hours of 20 January 2012 by a huge police contingent including helicopters and members of the special tactics group.

The vast house - owned by Chrisco Christmas hampers founder Richard Bradley - is surrounded by rolling green lawns and features a pool, an elaborate cascading fountain, and a larger-than-life-size giraffe sculpture nicknamed 'Karl' by Mr Dotcom.

Since the raid, the 24ha estate had played host to an army of lawyers, reporters seeking interviews, and even a 'Swim at Kim's' pool party in 2012.

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom (2nd R) poseswith actors dessed as police after the launch of his new website at a press conference held inside his home in Auckland on January 20, 2013.

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom (2nd R) poses with actors dessed as police after the launch of his new website at a press conference held inside his home in Auckland on January 20, 2013. Photo: AFP

On the first anniversary of his arrest, Mr Dotcom held a lavish party at the mansion, complete with a re-enactment of the raid.

He had mixed feelings about the move, he said.

"A part of me is sad. We are leaving our home. The other part of me is excited. A new chapter."

The cost of Mr Dotcom's living arrangements was discussed at a court hearing earlier this year to determine whether he could access some of his frozen assets to pay his expenses.

Crown lawyer David Boldt asked him whether he had considered saving money by moving out of the mansion.

At the time, Mr Dotcom told the court he did not want to move out, as his five young children had grown up there and the family had also made about $9 million in improvements, which they would not be able to get back.

The children were now excited about the move, he said yesterday.

It would not affect them much as he was continuing to rent a property next to the mansion where they had been living with their mother - Mr Dotcom's estranged wife, Mona Dotcom.

A recent Hong Kong court judgement granted him $US80,000 a month in living expenses from a pool of $US50 million of frozen funds, and access to the same pool of funds to meet his future legal costs.

However, the court refused to grant him access to the money to pay his former lawyers, Paul Davison QC and the law firm Simpson Grierson.

That bill - about $600,000 for Mr Davison and $1.4 million for Simpson Grierson - was still outstanding, he said.

"There's something in the pipeline which will hopefully see them paid at some stage early in the new year."

He would not elaborate, but said relations were still cordial.

"They made close to $10 million so I don't think they have much to complain about."

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