Irvine Sellar, creator of The Shard, has died

Property developer, whose vision and determination transformed the London skyline, has passed away after a short illness.


Irvine Sellar, the London property tycoon who built The Shard, has died aged 82.

Lights on Britain’s tallest building will be dimmed this week in respect of the self-made business giant who defied critics to build the 1,016ft building that transformed the London skyline.

Mr Sellar, who began his career helping out on his father’s glove stall on Petticoat Lane after leaving school at 16, passed away after a short illness on Sunday.

He became a leading light in the British fashion industry after setting up a store, Mates, on Carnaby Street in London in the 1960s, which he ran with his wife Elizabeth.

The business grew into a chain of 90 fashion stores, which the couple sold up in 1981, when Mr Sellar turned to property.

Gerald Ronson, a fellow Jewish tycoon and friend of Mr Sellar, said he would be greatly missed.

Mr Ronson told the Financial Times: “We used to joke about who was more persistent in dealing with adversity, me or him. He’ll be sadly missed by those that knew him and by those in the industry who grew up in that generation. We are old dinosaurs now.”

Harvey Soning, founder of the property agency James Andrew International and chairman of the JCoss Trust, said: “He had big hair and was very Carnaby Street, the epitome of the swinging ‘60s. He sold high collars for the boys and flared trousers for the girls — he was way ahead of his time.”

Born in Essex in 1936, Mr Sellar had no formal training in the property sector.

He bought the site for the Shard by London Bridge station in 1998. The design for the glass building, which was widely considered unbuildable, was famously scribbled on the back of a menu during a lunch with architect Renzo Piano.

The scheme was given the go-ahead in November 2003 and construction began five years later. Speaking ahead of opening in 2012, Mr Sellar said that pushing the project to completion was “like swimming all the way across the Atlantic”.

In an interview at the time he said: “I knew when I took this project on that it would be like going a full 12 rounds in the boxing ring. I might have a couple of bad rounds in there, but I have come back fighting every time and I will keep doing so.”

His son, James, will now take over running the Sellar Property Group, which they worked on together. Last year father and son were ranked as joint 457th place in the Sunday Times Rich List, with a fortune worth £225m.

Until recently, the pair had worked together on a 65-storey skyscraper planned for Paddington, to include 200 homes and 150,000 sq ft of office space.

Mr Sellar is survived by his wife, three children and five grandchildren.

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