I attended a lunch last year and blogged about a stunning villa which you could see from my friend’s terrace. It was called the Villa Leopolda. Here is an extract from that blog posting:
Much of the talk on the terrace was about a large property, surrounded by acres of land which stood in the distance, almost acting as a gateway to the Cap. Even from our vantage point a couple of miles away you could see the manicured lawns and lines of Cyprus trees. The extent of the grounds defied belief. Our hosts told us that the house had recently sold (true) and that it was Bill Gates who had sold it (untrue). The post described how the house was in the hands of a Mrs Safra who inherited it when her husband was killed in Monaco. See blog for full story.
Villa Leopolda was the house we stared at from our friend’s terrace. It is probably the best property on the whole of the Riviera and if money was no object (and you like that sort of thing – see picture), it’s just the sort of pad you’d go for…….as a wealthy Russian did in August of this year. Although there are rumours to the contrary, he reputedly slapped €500m cash on the table and poor old Mrs Safra had no option but to take the cash and run. Now the villa is probably worth no more than maybe €100m or at a stretch €150m but these Russians just don’t want any of those nasty little gazumpers coming in and spoiling their deal and so the ‘rather generous’ offer was made and accepted which made Villa Leopolda the most expensive property on the planet.
The thing is – nobody had ever heard of this Russian. Well nobody down here. He wasn’t in the papers. He didn’t own a football club. He was just a nobody with the odd €500m to spare.
But now there’s a twist to the story. The Russian billionaire, (we now know it was a Mikhail Prokhorov), didn’t actually buy the house, he simply put down the legal deposit, in this case, 10% or €50 million, prior to completion. And then the recession hit.
Being down to his last few billion, he’s tried to pull out of the deal and had asked for his ‘roubles’ back but French law has told him to ‘allez vous en’, I think is the term!
Under French property law, a deposit can only be refunded during a seven-day “cooling-off” period or if the buyer cannot secure a mortgage (which probably wasn't relevant in this case!) and so a court in Nice ruled that the villa's owner, 71-year-old Lily Safra, could keep the €50 million.
Any more Russians out there willing to donate to charity?
Oh and by the way, Nigel has provided an update on his goings on in New York. Remember, there's adult content. His blog can be found at the link below: