03 September 2008

Most expensive house

The sprawling Villa Leopolda on the Cote d'Azur Photo: BIGPICTURESPHOTO.COM
While the global credit-crunch has seen property in the UK falling for the sixth month in a row, the sprawling Villa Leopolda on the Cote d'Azur has dramatically bucked the international trend.
Its new owner is believed to be a Russian oil oligarch but his identity is a closely guarded secrecy.
The cream-coloured villa, set in 20 acres of gardens, overlooks Cap Ferrat near Villefranche and was originally built as a summer retreat for King Leopold II of Belgium.

It is the latest property in the area to be snapped up by the Russian super-rich. The price soared so high because the original owner was reluctant to part with the luxury property.
The villa once belonged to the Agnelli family, founders of car giant Fiat, and in the 1960s became the scene for legendary jet-set parties attended by Frank Sinatra and Ronald Reagan.
But the huge price tag is just the start of the expense for its new owner. The grounds take 50 full-time gardeners to look after estate which includes 1200 olive, orange, lemon and cypress trees.
Villa Leopolda has been rumoured to be on and off the market ever since last owner Edmond Safra was murdered. Wife Lily was expected to sell it to Microsoft Bill Gates but the reports came to nothing.


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