WARNING: The Block spoilers below.
It was another rollercoaster auction day for The Block in 2023, with two teams becoming instant millionaires – while another couple’s house failed to sell at all.
NSW childhood sweethearts Steph and Gian emerged as this year’s winners, their house – a season-long judge’s favourite – purchased for a massive $5 million.
With a reserve of $3.35 million, that gave the couple a record-breaking auction profit of $1.65 million, surpassing the $1.586 million last year’s winners Omar and Oz made over their reserve.
Throw in $100,000 in prize money, and the young couple are walking away with $1.75 million dollars, the biggest winnings in Block history.
Also instant millionaires: Melbourne sisters Eliza and Liberty, whose house sold for $4.3 million, giving them a profit of $1.05 million over their reserve.
WA’s Kyle and Leslie placed third, with a more modest profit of $130,000, when their house sold for $3.1 million.
All three of those houses were bought by the same man: Adrian Portelli, buyer of last year’s winning Block house, who has emerged as the successor to Danny Wallis as the multi-millionaire serial buyer contestants really need to court. Portelli started the auctions with a bang, defeating Wallis with a million-dollar bidding escalation that had his rival saying with a sigh: “He can have it.”
In one particularly bizarre moment, Portelli bid against himself several times during Eliza and Liberty’s auction, repeatedly raising the price by $100,000 despite already having the highest bid.
“That’s…never happened before,” said a dumbfounded Scott Cam, while the auctioneer called it “the strangest auction I’ve ever done.”
And as with last year, Portelli said he planned to raffle off his new haul of Block properties.
“I think with the three houses I bought, there is only a small percentage of Aussies who can
afford something of this value. To be able to buy them and potentially give someone else a
chance to win it in my promotion means a lot.”
The news was worse for this season’s two most controversial teams. South Australian couple Kristy and Brett’s house sold for $3.035 million, giving them a profit of just $65,000 for the season. And Queenslanders Leah and Ash suffered the fate every Block couple dreads: bids failed to climb above their $2.97 million reserve and so they decided to pass it in, lest the auctioneer keep pushing and only return them a tiny profit.
There is some hope for them, though: their house could still sell for more than its reserve after auction. Two of the three houses that were passed in during last year’s auctions eventually sold for well over their reserve, scoring their teams respective profits of around $170,000 each.
Speaking after their win, Steph and Gian said their were “overwhelmed” and described auction day as “surreal.”
“This will change our lives,” they said of their $1.75 million win.
“We have no idea what we are going to do with the money yet. It’s going to clear our debts in Sydney. It’s going to set us up for whatever the next stage is. It’s just unbelievable.”
The Block’s longtime executive producer Julian Cress described Kristy and Brett’s paltry $65,000 auction profit as “heartbreaking.”
“I think Kristy and Brett are two of the best contestants we have had on the show and I feel terrible for them that they had to go through that, after just watching their neighbours make a million plus. For them to make $65,000 is pretty heartbreaking,” he said.
“Australia got what they wanted,” an emotional Kristy said after the auction, referencing the viewer backlash she and Brett had copped throughout the season.
For another year on The Block, it seems success or failure for contestants rests is dependant on the whims of a couple of very rich men – eccentric multi-millionaires so wealthy they can bid against themselves for show (this year’s mega-buyer Portelli has an estimated net worth of $350 million, so throwing away $100,000 in a pointless double-bid probably won’t keep him up at night).
The Block 2023 auction results:
Steph and Gian, House 4: Reserve of $3.35 million, sold for $5.000 million = $1.65 million profit + $100,000 prize money = $1.75 million (a Block record)
Eliza and Liberty, House 5: Reserve of $3.25 million, sold for $4.3 million = $1.05 million profit
Kyle and Leslie, house 1: Reserve of $2.97 million, sold for $3.1 million = $130,000 profit
Kristy and Brett, House 3: Reserve of $2.97 million, sold for $3.035 million = $65,000 profit.
Leah and Ash, House 2: Reserve of $2.97 million not met, passed in at auction.
Previous Block winners
2003: BONDI – Adam & Fiona, $256,000
2004: MANLY – Jamie & Andrew, $178,000
2010: VAUCLUSE – John & Neisha, $305,000
2011: RICHMOND – Polly & Waz, $115,000
2012: SOUTH MELBOURNE – Brad & Lara, $606,000
2013: ALL STARS (BONDI) – Phil & Amity, $395,000
2013: SKY HIGH (SOUTH MELBOURNE) – Alisa & Lysandra, $395,000
2014: FANS v FAVES (ALBERT PARK) – Steve & Chantelle, $736,000
2014: GLASSHOUSE (PRAHRAN) – Shannon & Simon, $435,000
2015: TRIPLE THREAT (SOUTH YARRA) – Darren & Deanne, $935,000
2015: THE BLOCKTAGON (SOUTH YARRA) – Dean & Shay, $755,000
2016: PORT MELBOURNE – Will & Karlie, $815,000
2017: ELSTERNWICK – Josh & Elyse, $547,000
2018: GATWICK (ST KILDA) – Hayden & Sara, $645,000
2019: OSLO (ST KILDA) – Tess & Luke, $730,000
2020: BRIGHTON – Jimmy & Tam, $1,066,000
2021: FANS v FAVES (HAMPTON) – Mitch & Mark , $744,444
2022: TREE CHANGE (GISBORNE) – Omar and Oz, $1,686,666.66