Reaches New Heights
The Villa Leopolda on the French Riviera
When Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, spent $45 million a few years ago to build a mansion on the east side of Lake Washington, near Seattle, it was thought to have been the most expensive house ever. Regardless, it was a carefully thought out space for man who was the richest person in the world -- at least until he gave most of his fortune away. Gates is the individual who did more than anyone to help put a personal computer in every office and home. Then he and his wife turned to helping save lives around the world through their new foundation.
In any case, the honors for Big-Spender in the home category just keep going up and up. And wouldn't you know that the folks who sold off Russia's assets in the 1990s would be the leading contenders what has become a spectacular new conspicuous consumption sweepstakes?
When the $750 million house on the Riviera went on the market recently, many just assumed that the buyer--if any--would turn out to be a Russian. And so it is, according to Fox News.
Just who is the happy new home owner? Is he someone who, like Gates, made his money improving life for others while making a fortune for himself? Did he, too, set up a prestigious foundation to help the sick and unfortunate? Or is he one of the notorious kleptocrats?
Mystery Buyer Pays $750 Million for World's Priciest Home
By Fox News
A mysterious Russian billionaire has trumped his big-spending rivals and broken a world record by splashing out $750 million on one of the most sumptuous villas on the French Riviera.
The price of the Villa Leopolda, a Belle Apoque mansion on the heights of Villefrance, has amazed estate agents but fuelled local worries that the invasion of Russian money on the Cote d'Azur is getting out of hand.
Since the early 1990s, Russian oligarchs, drawn by memories of the Riviera-mad old Russian aristocracy, have been piling into seaside properties at Cap Ferrat, Cap d'Antibes, Saint-Tropez and the other great playgrounds.
None, however, has come near the price with which the unnamed Russian clinched the Leopolda deal with Lily Safra, the widow of Edmond Safra, a Lebanese banker who was killed by an arsonist's fire in Switzerland in 2003.
Lily Safra was said to have held out for months as the buyer raised his bid for the villa, between Nice and Monaco, which King Leopold II of Belgium acquired in 1902.
The previous record for a house was said to be the $110 million that Lakshmi Mittal, the steel tycoon, paid for a property in Kensington Palace Gardens in 2004. The macho spending contest by Russian oligarchs is making property agents giddy.
Jean Pierre, a high-end agent, said: "It's completely surreal and we are really uneasy. We don't dare any more to propose any price below $150 million for these clients. Anything below and they throw you out...and you should see how they do it," he told Le Parisien. The Nice Matin newspaper said: "At this price tag, we are beyond luxury and even reality."
Click to read more from the Times of London