Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest man, paid a whopping 200 million euros for Villa Les Cedres, a 190-year-old mansion in the French Riviera town of Saint-Jean Cap-Ferrat.
The purchase was first reported in August, but the buyer was unknown until the Financial Times revealed it was purchased by Akhmetov’s company on Jan. 27.
The mansion, which used to be a home for King Leopold II of Belgium, was bought by the System Capital Management holding, where 100% of shares belong to Akhmetov. The oligarch is the only Ukrainian to enter the list of 500 richest people in the world with a $6-billion fortune, according to Bloomberg.
Akhmetov’s SCM Holding bought the mansion from Italian distiller Davide Campari-Milano SpA, the last owner in the long history of the villa. The home was put on sale in 2017, with the initial list price of 350 million euros, leading Bloomberg to call it “the most expensive house on Earth.”
The villa is an 18,000-square-foot, 14-bedroom mansion set on 35 acres in one of the most expensive corners of Europe.
“The company views the asset as a long-term investment,” SCM Holding said in a statement about the purchase.
The house is the latest addition to Akhmetov’s collection of grand real estate – but it is also, reportedly, the most he ever paid for a home.
In 2011, the oligarch’s SCM bought an apartment in the notorious luxury complex One Hyde Park in London for 137 million pounds. The three-story residence was dubbed the world’s most expensive apartment. Later, it was successfully transferred from the company to Akhmetov’s personal ownership.
In Ukraine, Akhmetov built a house with an area of roughly 130,000 square feet on 62 acres of forest outside of Kyiv.
Previously, Ukraine’s richest oligarch built another giant mansion in Donetsk, an industrial city some 700 kilometers east of Kyiv, on the territory of the former Donetsk Botanical Garden in eastern Ukraine. Akhmetov hasn’t been using it since Russia started its war in eastern Ukraine in 2014 and Donetsk became a stronghold of the Russian-proxy forces.
But some see Akhmetov’s pricy purchase as a mockery of the people of Ukraine, the poorest in Europe.
“Akhmetov controls coal mining and steel factories, which transformed Ukraine into the country with the most polluted air with the highest deaths from air pollution,” Daria Kaleniuk, executive director of the Anti-Corruption Action Center, wrote on Twitter.
The purchase also comes as some of Akhmetov’s companies report losses amid an “energy market crisis” in Ukraine.
Days before news of the 200-million-euro purchase broke, another report stated that the Burshtynska Thermal Power Station in western Ukraine, a part of Akhmetov’s energy empire, hasn’t been paying its team of firefighters for months. The station cited the energy market crisis.
Akhmetov won’t be the only rich Ukrainian to own a home on the French Riviera. Over the years, Ukrainian media reported that the big shots who bought – usually, through proxies – real estate in this corner of Europe include former presidential administration head Serhiy Lovochkin, oligarch Dmytro Firtash, and even former Prosecutor General Svyatoslav Piskun.
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