With nothing to do for a couple of hours between ABC radio gigs yesterday, what could be more exciting than spending $63 executing land title searches on Steve Vizard’s two $5 million-plus property plays in Toorak. Vizard is nothing if not a fast-moving wheeler dealer and it quickly became apparent the lad has relieved Victor and Loti Smorgon, patriarch and matriarch of the billionaire Melbourne family, of a quick $1 million.

The first play was in November 2001 when Vizard’s Serene Residential Pty Ltd exchanged contracts with the Smorgons on their property in Landale Rd for the tasty price of $5.4 million. The media shy Smorgons now enjoy living in the entire top floor of the swank Como Centre which they share with Channel Ten in Melbourne, a legacy of the fact that in the recession we had to have, Westpac was in possession of both the Como and Ten.

The Vizards promptly moved in although the funny man never actually completed the transfer with the Smorgons, instead simply lodging a caveat. Not only did this delay the payment of about $300,000 in stamp duty, it also saved him interest on any mortgage he would have required, although the deal might have been $5 million plus interest until settlement.

Fast forward 16 months to March 2003 and Vizard decided to sell to incoming IOOF CEO Ron Dewhurst for $6.4 million. Therefore, Vizard grossed $1 million without actually putting any money down.

The transfer at the titles office shows both sales occurred on the same day, and the combined stamp duty was a hefty $647,447, suggesting Vizard’s net profit was about $700,000. However, this didn’t leave the funny man out on the street as his second move into Toorak was in October 2002 when he paid $5.2 million to the Moran family, the furniture people not the dead gangsters, for their lavish pile in Orrong Rd, where he currently resides when not holidaying in Europe.

This was a regular sale and he paid the $288,750 in stamp duty up front, although the interesting feature is that Westpac remains the mortgagee. This is the same Westpac that has stumped up $2 million of the $3 million that former accountant Roy Hilliard is alleged to have stolen from Vizard, so despite some obvious tension, the relationship remains in place.

How Vizard made his fortune is still to be fully pieced together but if you’ve got any insights, especially those dozens of deals in the arts, drop us a line to [email protected]

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey