New owner Kit Fraser made the purchase, at the epicentre of the annual Festival Fringe publicity arena, after Lothian and Borders Police put 22 disused boxes up for sale.
Bonham’s auctioneers had valued each box at £4,000-6,000 but the box on the High Street, considered to be the most sought after, was bought for around 20 times what it was expected to make.
Fraser made headlines during the last general election when he stripped off his clothes in front of the Royal Bank of Scotland at Gogarburn, claiming that bankers had stripped small businesses naked.
He intends to turn the police box into a ticket booth and said he had been in talks with the owners of Edinburgh Castle and a ghost tour operator.
The force received 395 bids for the 22 boxes, which new owners will have to paint a different colour from the iconic police blue as part of a condition made by police chiefs.
“I know that it is a lot of money, but it must be one of the prime locations for a marketing outlet in Scotland let alone in Edinburgh”, said Fraser, who owns Moniack Castle outside Inverness, along with pubs and restaurants.
“It’s also going to be a fun place to work, which surely helps. I have no interest in dull businesses, they seldom make money and it’s difficult to be motivated in running them. From a business perspective I think you have to respect that if you are going to buy something exceptional then you have to pay a premium price. I think I got a bargain and I’ve been running small businesses for over 30 years so I’m not going into this blindly or without careful thought.”
Warnings were included in the sales guide that the boxes weighed over two tonnes and would be expensive to move – but Fraser intends to operate the box from its current site. The land underneath the boxes will remain the property of the city, which will negotiate rents and rates with their tenants.
The Fraser family once ran a successful wine company and Kit Fraser also owns a 400-seater music pub in London’s Brixton, and a pub and restaurant in Inverness. He is also known for writing a book describing his year as a coal miner, titled Toff Down Pit.
“I am also happy to be working with an old pal, Dave the Ghost, who will be basing his walking tour business at the box, which should bring a lot of fun and jollity to the location – and hopefully a bit of money as well.”