A palace called Istana Woodneuk — which lies in the heart of one of the most expensive cities in the world — is currently in a dire state.
While dilapidated, the palace, set on the 210,875 square meter plot of land in the former Tyersall Park, is worth a cool USD3.5 billion!
It is the same palace that inspired writer Kevin Kwan, the author of Crazy Rich Asians, for the creation of the fictitious Young family's sprawling ancestral home, set within Singapore's Tyersall Park
However, in real life, the palace is actually owned by a Malaysian royalty.
Specifically, the 34-year-old Crown Prince of Johor, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim.
The palace, built by his ancestors in the late 19th century, was owned by Captain John Dill Ross. In 1860, the palace, which at the time was called Woodneuk House, was sold to Sultan Sir Abu Bakar Ibni Al-Marhum Tun Temenggung Raja Daing Ibrahim, the first modern Sultan of Johor. He renamed the building to Istana Woodneuk.
While the plot owned by the Johor Royal Family was once larger, it has gradually reduced as the Singapore government acquired land to extend the Botanic Gardens, a Unesco World Heritage site
According to a Bloomberg article which first shone the spotlight on the property's price earlier this week, in 1990, the Singapore government bought part of the land for SGD25 million (RM75.3 million) and in 2009 another 98,000 sq metre for an undisclosed sum.
Prior to that, in 1925, the palace was burnt down and was rebuilt again in 1935.
During World War II, the palace served as a military camp for the British. And in 1948, three years after the war ended, it was returned to the then Sultan of Johor.
However, after the Singapore government acquired Tyersall Park in 1990, the palace which previously had a caretaker, was abandoned.
In the Singapore market, the land is worth a whopping USD3.5billion. Making it a goldmine for the Johor Crown Prince.
However, he cannot cash in on it any time soon, even if he wanted to.
Because the land cannot be sold as it is reserved for "special use of green space". Meaning, the land is not meant for residential or commercial use.
Now, if you're wondering why is the portion of land where the palace sits is worth so much, it has to do with the fact that land is scarce in Singapore.
"Over the past five decades, land prices have appreciated significantly. This has fueled wealth creation for older generations. Many also aspire to own a landed property as it is a status symbol for the well-heeled," Singapore at Cushman & Wakefield Inc. senior director and head of research Christine Li was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.
Here are some more photos of the palace, which has become a den for drug addicts and thrill seekers, with locals even believing that the palace is haunted. Interestingly, there are no formal entrances.