SPAIN’S richest man has been attracting the scorn of Scotsmen after being blamed for water leaks that have caused catastrophic damage to a beloved Glasgow restaurant.
The Rogano, which dates back to 1935, has been closed for three years after it suffered severe flood damage during the first Covid lockdown in March 2020.
The water flooded in from the offices above the restaurant, causing structural damage and ceiling collapses in the historic building.
Edinburgh-based real estate investors Ediston, who bought the historic restaurant prior to the damages or the Covid pandemic, believes the owners of the offices above are liable for all the damages.
The offices above – and indeed the entire building – are owned by a London-based real estate firm called Pontegadea UK.
And it turns out that Pontegadea belongs to the sprawling business empire of Spaniard and billionaire Zara founder Armancio Ortega.
The fast fashion mogul is also Europe’s third-richest, with an estimated fortune of around $62.9 billion. He was briefly the richest man in the world in 2015, surpassing Bill Gates when his net worth peaked at $80 billion.
Glasgow-born Ediston owner Danny O’Neill hopes to be able to settle the dispute out of court, but so far insurers from Pontegadea have only mentioned a sum of £100,000.
O’Neil estimates that the true cost of repairs to restore the historic site at some 10 to 20 times higher.
“The freeholder is responsible for maintaining and insuring the building and the freeholder is a company called Pontegadea, owned by one of the richest men in Europe,” said O’Neil.
“We don’t have any rights or responsibilities to carry out repairs to the building – it’s not our building. We only own the air space within Rogano.”
“We have a 100-year lease on the building and pay a nominal sum in rent.”
Reports commissioned by Ediston indicate that water ingress issues have been ongoing in the building for many years.
Despite engaging with Pontegadea in early 2021 about the water issues, O’Neill claimed that there was no response for many months.
Rogano, once efficiently and profitably operated before the pandemic and subsequent flood, remains O’Neill’s focus for a revival.
He intends to broaden its appeal beyond the older generation and invest significantly in the building once it’s made ‘wind and water-tight.’
But a court case is looming before that will be possible – unless he can convince the 18th wealthiest person in the world to reach into his ample pocket and foot the bill.