Meet the man in charge of the ‘most exclusive private vault in the world’.
Words by Jonathan Whiley
IBV Vaults, on Mayfair's Park Lane, is straight from a James Bond film.
There's bulletproof glass, armoured reinforced doors, electronic timers, plus fingerprint and iris scanners.
But this is no figment of Ian Fleming’s imagination.
This new Fort Knox-like facility, next to The Dorchester, is billing itself as “the most exclusive private vault in the world”.
Gutting the building
The vault has been designed to stop burglars like the Hatton Garden thieves in their tracks.
In 2015, the Hatton Garden burglars drilled through walls to carry out their infamous £14 million heist.
“We didn’t want that happening here,” says managing director Sean Hoey.
“So the first thing we had to do was gut the whole building.
“We cut a big hole in the floor to get the old safes out and to get these steel panels in to line all the walls, the floor and the ceiling.”
“If anybody did try a Hatton Garden here, they can get through the concrete and bricks, but obviously then they hit the steel.”
In the plush reception area there is a huge pane of glass – for both aesthetics and safety.
It allows for privacy as clients discuss whether they would like to rent a safe or purchase diamonds or gold.
Undecided, I’m led – as a customer would be – through the locked, reinforced door via the iris scan.
“No one else has this in London,” says Hoey, lining up his eyes.
Once downstairs, a giant vault door with Chubb branding stands in our path in one direction.
But this original two-tonne door, dating back to the 1940s, didn't match IBV‘s grade 10 security.
When taking it out presented a challenge, they decided to keep it and installed a higher-spec door on the inside, says Hoey.
Next we venture to the ‘man trap area’ – the space between the two gates before you access the safes.
A control room with reinforced concrete and bulletproof glass houses a security guard with extensive CCTV.
“That is AK47 multishot glass. You can stand there shooting with an AK47 and it wouldn’t break.”
“This is our on-site control room, but we have another three control rooms watching us at all times,” Hoey adds.
Once customers verify who they are, they are allowed through the next gate into the safe room, which houses 561 safes.
There are nine sizes of box available – velvet-lined – priced at £1,000 for the smallest one, up to £15,000 a year.
In the safe room, there is a small, private cubicle with frosted glass where clients can view their precious possessions.
Plus there's a red panic button just in case anything goes wrong.
Gold and diamond room
The larger size boxes prove the most popular but an entire room can be taken for a cool £2.5 million a year.
Ultra-high-net-worth individuals are the target market.
Many of these multi-millionaires and billionaires are referred by banks, as very few banks offer safety deposit boxes.
With more than 14,000 members worldwide – and vaults in Switzerland, South Africa and a new opening in Dubai this month – the clientele is very international.
There is also a ‘gold and diamond room’ where five carat diamonds (“and above”) and mints of the world are available to buy too.
Peace of mind
Such is the extensive security here, that Lloyds of London’s insurance – complimentary as a customer – covers up to £100,000.
“All the other safety deposits in London and most worldwide, either offer very low complimentary insurance or none at all,” says Hoey.
Additional benefits include exclusive rates at hotels including The Dorchester and The Ritz.
Plus IBV’s own Rolls-Royce operates a chauffeur service within a certain radius of Park Lane.
Nobody knows the exact contents of the boxes – discretion and privacy is key.
However, Hoey says at Harrods, where he worked for 34 years managing the safety deposit boxes, watches and jewellery were popular deposits.
46 Park Lane,