Sunday Times E-Edition

Russian oligarch’s chateau on French Riviera for sale


A century-old chateau on the French Riviera that was previously owned by a Russian oligarch is finally on the market after years of legal wrangling. It could fetch more than $100m (about R1.9bn).

The Château de la Garoupe on Cap d’Antibes is being sold by France’s agency for seized and confiscated goods, known as Agrasc.

Visits are scheduled for September and final offers due by October 6, according to an outline of the auction process and description of the sprawling mansion and grounds.

The estate, located in one of the country’s most exclusive playgrounds for the rich and famous, was owned by Boris Berezovsky, a fervent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin who died in the UK a decade ago.

The sale follows a protracted court battle in France with Berezovsky’s creditors, including billionaire Roman Abramovich and Russian airline Aeroflot, over ownership. It was confiscated by the French state in 2015 as part of a separate money-laundering suit.

Berezovsky, one of Russia’s first and bestknown oligarchs, bought the chateau in the 1990s, paving the way for an influx of his wealthy countrymen to the area.

Now Russian ownership of luxury assets is under scrutiny globally after Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.

Located on a peninsula east of Cannes with sweeping views of the Mediterranean and the southern French Alps, the estate was built in 1907 by UK parliamentarian Charles McLaren, who had the title of Baron Aberconway.

It remained in his family until being acquired by the Russian billionaire. The property was valued during French court proceedings at €93.6m (about R1.9bn) in 2011. Nice-Matin newspaper this week reported an estimate of nearly €120m.

With direct access to the sea, the southfacing chateau has a pool, tennis court, jacuzzi, fountains and gardens.

The main mansion is about 1,300m2 with drawing, music and billiard rooms, a winter garden and six guest suites. The landscaped grounds stretch over 10ha and include five annexes or living quarters, “some of which are in poor condition”, according to the sale document.

Paris-based notary Cheuvreux is running the sale for the French government. The deadline for initial bids was June 17 and only those selected will be invited to visit the property with a company called Bluebird Immobilier. Representatives of Cheuvreux and Bluebird couldn’t be reached for comment. The document states that they have signed confidentiality agreements.





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