Life and noble title up for auction Thursday, Sep 18 2008 

British Lord auctions his noble title …

By William Pherrel

British Lord of the Manor of Warleigh and millionaire David Piper has made headlines in recent years for his attempt to auction off his multi-million dollar assets, but especially in 2002 for advertising his search for a “Lady of Warleigh.” With this, he had hoped to find solvent ladies to pass on through marriage his manorial title and 111 acre estate, including the mansion house itself, two hotels, various outbuildings, two Bentleys and his art collection. In the following two years, he had been swamped by nearly 2000 replies, over 100 with which he had made contact but sadly not found an appropriate match despite about 100 newspaper articles, 30 radio and television interviews and an extensive report about him in the U.S. magazine People. However, he still does receive up to 35 emails a day with offers from all parts of the world and still remains in contact with some of the earlier interested ladies.

He had finally managed to sell the manor and 105 acres in October 2004, leaving him with 6 acres of organic undeveloped farmland, a contemporary art collection, Bentleys, seafront hotel and café, two ocean-view apartments and four big garages crammed full of belongings, from antique clock to chamber organ to a grand piano dating from 1912.

This entire enterprise began when David Piper placed a newspaper ad seeking “an attractive 25 – 35 year old entrepreneurial, intelligent professional of independent means” to “become Lady of Warleigh”. With this, he had hoped to find someone who would first fall in love with his estate “and then fall in love with me” to help get him out of the financial situation he had gotten himself into after the 1999 purchase of the manor and attached noble title of Lord. On top of that, he did not have enough cash to maintain the estimated $ 10,000.00 per month necessary to keep up his estate and pay off his debts.

His ultimate hopes are to clear off his debts and move from the present home town of Plymouth to be closer to his children near London, where he could also receive further treatment at the University College Hospital. Being forced to close the hotels and the café because of his physical inability to spend the necessary time to run them appropriately, Piper was motivated by the story of a British-born rug salesman in Perth, Australia, who had put his life up for sale on eBay after a painful separation from his wife, to do the same.

With this in mind, Piper put himself and all of his worldly belongings on eBay, hoping to raise at least $ 2 million, even though the entire assessed value of his estates of over $ 10 million could theoretically have brought more. However, due to dramatic drops in property prices, he was forced to settle for less. Perhaps the more important reason for his efforts though, are his hopes to fund his cancer treatment after being diagnosed with a T3b prostrate cancer, which had proven too difficult to treat in his home country of Great Britain.

Considered by the press to be eccentric and by many others to be “weird” or “lusty”, I believe that Lord David Piper is merely using his own intuition to resolve his increasingly unmanageable situation with innovative ideas. His title “Lord of the Manor of Warleigh” had been purchased along with the manor itself in 1999. Why should he not sell it in the same way to a person who seeks not only a title, but the wonderful property that belonged to it, perhaps even falling in love with the interested person??

His innovative ideas have not ceased with his eBay offers however. Among 30 different marketing ideas, he is selling the remaining 6 acres of property bit by bit to people who had wanted to buy a part of the Warleigh estate but couldn’t afford the entire property. With this, he is hoping to sell up to 400 separate plots of land varying in size and price beginning at 200 square feet for about $ 1,700.00 up to 5000 square feet for about $ 63,500.00. From planting a tree in memory of a loved one, scattering the ashes of cremated family (or even pet) members, vineyards, rose gazebos, truffle tree plantations or even a Japanese garden, the sky’s the limit for the interested parties!

For a man that has gained much, married twice, and lost much, he is amazingly lacking of sentimental feelings over the loss of his assets – “mostly they are just possessions. I won’t be weeping” he was quoted as saying. It’s quite the opposite actually. He is looking forward to getting rid of it all to begin a new life near Regent’s Park in London – closer to his children, closer to the hospital for his treatments and to settle down to make the most of what might only be a few remaining years of a fast paced and adventurous life.


Castles for sale … Monday, Sep 15 2008 

Growing Trend — Castles for Sale

By William Pherrel

Well, now things are getting increasingly interesting. I have mentioned in my earlier posts that there is a rising trend in the purchase of noble titles, now there seems to be a rising trend in the sale and purchase of castles!!

There are only a small number of castles for sale in the UK per year and a number of castles in Scotland have come on the market in recent years. On continental Europe, castles in France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Slovakia, the Ukraine and the Czech Republic have come onto the market, at least as far as I have discovered so far.

Perhaps one of the most famous purchases in recent months has been that of a three year lease for the French castle Chateau Miraval by Angelia Jolie and Brad Pitt, near the tiny village of Brignol in southern France. Actually, it is more of a mansion than a castle, but whatever the case may be, the price tag matched the property — $ 60 million with 1,000 acres!! The castle itself has over 35 rooms, billiards rooms, an indoor pool, gyms, sauna and jacuzzi and a marvelous banquet hall. Of particular interest is a recording studio installed by one of the previous owners, Jacques Loussier, which has been used for recordings by Sting, The Cranberries and Pink Floyd, to name a few. The estate is surrounded by gardens and a moat and includes even a fountain and a chapel. A vineyard modernized in 1993, an olive grove (with 13 different types of olives) and a mixed forest of evergreen and oak add to a very private and secluded atmosphere, all set back three miles from the main road.

Owning a castle is of course, not something for just anyone. Alone the heating costs and potentially problematic electrical and plumbing, are sources of constant maintenance. The upkeep of the grounds and outer facades of the buildings themselves is also a substantially high cost factor. Some privately owned castles are partially open to the public and therefore require a certain amount more maintenance, including the provision of public toilets and/or souvenir shop. Generally however, the larger privately owned castles are located away from touristy districts and are not open to the public.

There is a surprising number of castle types to choose from. Beginning with ancient several hundred year-old defensive castles and ending with brand new turreted castles complete with swimming pool and other luxurious installations. Depending on the location and age of the castle, the prices can begin with as little as a mere dollar for complete ruins (albeit with the requirement to renovate and/or to keep up the grounds for tourism purposes), or perhaps $ 1 million for a relatively small but renovated castle, up to the above mentioned $ 60 million and even more. The price also depends on the amount of property belonging to the castle and its prior owners, usually of some kind of royal descent.

Of course, the definition for “castle” has been altered over time. In the Middle Ages, a castle was designed to defend the noble families residing in them and were fortified with a protective outer wall surrounding the complex. However, as in the case of Pitt’s and Jolie’s Chateau Miraval, this is far less a castle and would be strictly defined as a stately home or mansion once belonging to a noble family of the French court. The modern castles of today include a broad spectrum of ornately designed homes to larger complexes, housing hotels and/or restaurants.

Whatever the case may be, the purchasing of castles will become most certainly a growing lucrative opportunity for their owners, as the continuously rising upkeep costs prevent them from investing badly needed funds in a cause that may be only historical in nature. Another factor – those castles in Eastern Europe could become more interesting, as many of their owners are unable to afford any kind of upkeep and are looking for rich dollar-owning individuals seeking investment opportunities or quite simply, a very secluded spot to rear their children.

To Those Interested in International Trends Tuesday, Aug 19 2008 

How to Get Your Own Royal Title???

By William Pherrel

Recently I had been doing a bit of research involving the acquisition of noble titles for non-royalty and was astonished to discover the following.

(I would appreciate your comments on this blog entry, especially if some of the information presented is fragmentary or incomplete. Of course, those of you who may be interested in obtaining a genuine peerage title, please feel free to contact me, as I have made some interesting contacts during my research that could be of great help.)

In England (and even in the United States), it has become a money-making opportunity under the guise of so-called “gift ideas” to sell noble titles ranging from approximately $ 49.00 for non-official titles to over $ 160,000.00 for apparently genuine titles, depending on the type and “authenticity” of title. Titles for sale include: Sir (Knight), Lord or Lady, Baron or Baroness, Viscount or Viscountess, Earl/Count, Countess, Marquis or Marchioness, Duke or Duchess and in some cases even Prince/Princess. Impossible to attain through purchase are obviously the genuine titles of King/Queen.

The discussion of the validity of such “purchased” titles has hence gained the attention of the royal families respectively, and has lead to the founding of various societies and commissions operating at international levels to protect the interests of regal houses.

On the website of one particular commission, harsh words were used to describe “modern day pirates who impersonate, and by their fraudulent declarations defame, those who hold authentic titles and valid claims” when attempting to denigrate the various internet sites and press sources that offer the sale of nobility titles. Whereas this could very well be fraudulent in the eyes of commissions, societies and genuine title bearers, it has yet to be proven that such acts are truly punishable by law.

What truly needs to be taken into consideration here, is the differentiation between the acquisition of titles through purchase and the transfer of a title through marriage, birth, adoption or by way of example, traditionally, through the Sovereign of that particular country, e.g. the knighting of Sir Elton Hercules John, CBE (Knight Bachelor) by Queen Elisabeth II of the United Kingdom on the 24th of February, 1998.

While it is perfectly legal to change your name through a registry office or similar, it remains only that, a name, and is for the most part quite inexpensive. Whatever one decides to call oneself, it will not give them a title, noble or otherwise, no matter what the investment might be. The purchase of a genuine noble title is simply not possible in any country, with the exception of Baron in Scotland.

In this case, when purchasing land as part of a transaction where a noble title is to be transferred, there are a few guidelines to be taken into consideration, especially because so very few genuine titles of nobility can be transferred for money at all. These “manorial” titles can be sold without land attached, but remember, these are in no way titles of nobility! Peerage titles have not been sold for centuries, a topic much discussed among many historians, especially concerning the validity of such purchases. Scottish baronial titles, if indeed genuine, used to be sold together with a minimum of a couple of acres and had to be agreed upon by the governing Lord Lyon or decided upon by the Court of Session in Kidston-Montgomerie of Southannan (1951 SLT [Lyon Court] 3) who possessed valid superiority, but even this has been recently changed by law.

In Germany however, I have stumbled across several websites offering through marriage or adoption, truly genuine titles (albeit German) to solvent individuals seeking a noble title for the purpose of bettering their corporate image or for various personal reasons to gain recognition in upper class circles. (See According to German legislation passed in 1919, the noble titles do not remain as such, but are judicially acceptable as a name supplementation the world over. With that, it remains an integral part of the family name and can continue to be passed on through adoption or marriage. A good example is the name of a German politician, Hermann Otto Solms whose official title is Hermann Otto Prince of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich; or the late sociologist Max Graf zu Solms, whose official title is Maximilian Ludwig Count of Solms-Roedelheim and Assenheim. The title in front of the name is no longer allowed.

Obviously, there is a price attached. The fee descriptions are not readily available on the websites, as it is sought to reach only those who are truly interested in attaining a genuine title and not a “gift idea” nor for other vain purposes. The honorarium is generally in the six-figure realm and is usually agreed upon during a personal meeting with a member of the family in the strictest of confidence. The ensuing procedure of marriage or adoption is generally carried out in absolute confidentiality through a solicitor and notary office for the protection of the original title bearer from unnecessary press coverage which seeks to scandalise such ventures.

To conclude, according to my research so far, this seems to be the only truly legitimate method to attain genuine noble titles at least in Germany (and perhaps in other parts of the world). Noble titles will continue to be obtained through purchase, but their authenticity remains yet to be taken seriously and the dubious sales are not to be taken lightly. If one is “guaranteed” a genuine noble title for the price of up to $ 160.000,00 only to later discover that the title is a fake, it is nearly impossible to get the money back, as the purchaser is considered to have partaken in a contract that is binding. In the modern world of Internet, it is always worth the investment of time spent researching the claims, before a monetary investment is made, filling only the pockets of possible scammers.