It may be the world’s oldest profession, but that doesn’t mean it always has to act its age. That is, at least, what one Sydney businessman appears to be thinking as he prepares to build – and then take the very modern step of floating on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) – what he claims will be the world’s biggest brothel: a three-storey, 42-room mega-bordello opposite Sydney University, the country’s most prestigious institution of higher learning.
According to a private stockbroker presentation obtained by Monocle, reputed Australian adult toy kingpin Malcolm Day is looking to snatch up a couple of juicy pieces of real estate bordering a current top-end cathouse, eventually merging them into what the documents calls “the largest short-stay bordello globally”. The owners of the existent brothel, located opposite the ageing Victorian sandstone buildings that house Australia’s equivalent to Oxford or Harvard, say they have no choice but to expand in the face of soaring demand that has seen them turning away prospective clientele with their needs unmet.
The proposed super-brothel has exposed the dark and apparently exceedingly profitable world of Australia’s sex trade. Stiletto, the existing establishment at the location, pulled in AU$7m (€5m) in revenue last year and earnings are expected to more than double to AU$17.8m by the time the project is completed in 2013, the proposal says.
Those margins have brought in banking giant Westpac as lead financier, throwing AU$12.1m behind the project, whose Jacuzzi-laden, marble-bedecked rooms featured in the documents hold an estimated average room value of AU$800,000, according to real-estate group Colliers. A spokesman for Westpac said he was unable to comment due to client privilege.
There is no federal law making it illegal to sell sex in Australia, leaving each of the country’s six states to tackle the issue as they please. In New South Wales, for example, street prostitution is illegal within residential areas but acceptable outside of them, while no other state allows working girls to work outside, according to research by The Australian Institute of Criminology. Still, a pastiche of broadly worded state laws make running a licensed brothel broadly legal and, apparently, highly profitable.
The “halcyon days” of brothel ownership in neighbouring Victoria state have long since ended due to the proliferation of illegal brothels, says William Albon, spokesman for the Australian Adult Entertainment Industry (AAEI), a lobbying group. But for him New South Wales, where Sydney and the new brothel are located, is another story altogether.
“You’re investing in the oldest profession in the world,” he says. “Provided you’ve got a level playing field, I would say that it would be a very good investment opportunity.”