Eight months after walking away with the biggest- ever payday on The Block NZ, Auckland besties Tim Cotton and Arthur Gillies are still getting their heads around what to do with the $760,000 jackpot.
Following a season that took almost two years to film due to COVID interruptions, the childhood friends took out the grand prize last November, making $660,000 on their house and a bonus $100,000 for winning the overall competition.
But what viewers don’t know is that there was a moment where Tim and Arty thought they might not even complete the series!
“After we spent a year in limbo, we considered whether to come back or not,” explains Arty. “I wasn’t so sure. Tim had to give me a motivational chat to get me back in. He told me we needed to dig in and that it could change our lives – and it did. It was an awesome experience and the timing couldn’t have been better. We sold at the peak of the property market!”
You might imagine that three-quarters of a million dollars in the hands of two 27-year-old larrikins might mean a crazy spending spree, but the boys reveal they’ve been very sensible with their windfall.
“I bought a second-hand car, but other than that, we’ve left most of it in the bank,” Tim tells. “It’s the safest place for it.”
Arty adds, “We actually feel a lot of pressure about what we’re going to do with it. Everyone asks and there’s this expectation to do something great!”
Spurred on by their success on The Block, the boys have been looking for an investment house they can do up and
sell. And instead of going back to their old jobs – Arty in events management, Tim in film and TV – they’re now working
in a mate’s building business to gain more reno experience.
They’re also no longer living in each other’s pockets, with Tim moving out of the Grey Lynn flat he shared with Arty to shift into a Freemans Bay house with his girlfriend of almost three years, Molly.
“Arty was invited to come with us too, but he turned us down,” says Tim.
Arty laughs, “And then there was a mix-up in the flatting situation, so now I’m back at Mum’s!” But he hints he might soon be moving in with his new girlfriend Imogen.
“Arty is off the market – he has a girlfriend!” crows Tim. “They’re a couple of lovebirds. They’re so cute together.”
Blushing, Arty explains that he and architecture student Imogen have moved in similar social circles for years. “She had a boyfriend for a while and I was just playing the long game,” he grins.
The pair started messaging each other during Auckland’s last lockdown, met up as soon as bars were back open and have been together ever since, recently enjoying a 10-day trip to New York for Imogen’s brother’s wedding.
Both boys are keen to head back overseas and base themselves in Europe for a few years. They want to experience Spain, Germany and Denmark. “And we have to go to Belgium too – The Block is airing over there now, so it’d be pretty funny to be recognised on the streets,” laughs Tim.
In the meantime, Arty’s enjoying playing in the indie band NO CIGAR, who have an album coming out in September. He smiles, “We had a gig the other night and a few people called out, ‘Say hi to Tim!'”
The boys will definitely be watching the new season of The Block and feel relieved they can enjoy it from the comfort of home this time. When asked if they’d go back for another series, they shake their heads in unison.
“We’ve had our luck,” shares Tim. “If I did another season, I’d lose years off the end of my life. The sleep deprivation doesn’t come across on TV, but it feels like someone is standing on your head. I really struggled, but it was worth it. It gave us a head start. I feel like we’re about 10 years ahead on where we’d be otherwise.”
Nodding, Arty adds, “The Block was a two-year marathon for us. There’s not much in life that we’ll encounter that will be as hard as The Block, but it was an awesome experience with my best friend – nothing can take that away.”
Their advice for the returning contestants on The Block NZ: Redemption?
“Nap if you can,” says Arty. “If there’s a moment to shut your eyes, just do it!”
“Our success came from keeping it simple design-wise,” offers Tim. “But above everything, we were there to have fun, so I’d also add: Don’t be a dick. At the end of it, you’re being televised to the whole country!”