Shard developer Irvine Sellar dies

8 March 2017

The real estate industry paid its respects to the memory of Irvine Sellars, who died on 26 February after a short illness.

Sellars defied critics and multiple obstacles to build Europe’s tallest building, The Shard, on London’s Southbank. It was the culmination of a long career as a fashion retailer turned property developer in which he carved out a reputation as a fearsome negotiator, an obstinate, determined developer and a man who pursued his goals to the end.

“Do you know the difference between involvement and commitment?” he would ask his companions over a cooked breakfast of bacon and eggs. “The chicken was involved but the pig was committed.”

Sellar was always committed, placing his own money on the line for his ambitious developments, resulting in a dramatic bankruptcy during the property recession of 1992.

Undeterred, he returned to real estate development and announced plans for the Shard in 2000, winning financial support from Qatari investors and political support from London Mayor Ken Livingstone.

Launched in 2012, the 1,016 feet, 87-storey tower became an iconic addition to London’s skyline, soon filling up with tenants and attracting thousands of tourists and fine diners.

“He was a huge character, a property wheeler-dealer, one of the most persistent people you could meet,” said fellow developer Gerald Ronson.

With few such characters remaining in the industry, Sellar will be sorely missed.