First Published: 2017-12-18

Saudi crown prince 'owner of $300 mn French chateau'
Advisers to Saudi royal family have confirmed Prince Salman is ultimate owner of Chateau Louis XIV, world's most expensive home west of Paris.
Middle East Online

Chateau Louis XIV has fountains that can be controlled by iPhone

PARIS - Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been revealed as the owner of a French chateau described as the world's most expensive home, according to a report in the New York Times.

The purchase of the vast property west of Paris for $300 million (275 million euros) would be the latest in a string of extravagant purchases by the powerful prince, who has been waging a sweeping anti-corruption campaign.

The newly-built chateau was sold to a mystery buyer in 2015, and though its ownership is concealed through shell companies, advisers to the royal family have confirmed the prince is its ultimate owner, the Times reported Saturday.

Saudi officials have declined to comment on the report, which comes after French investigative website Mediapart similarly pointed to the prince as the owner in July.

Fortune magazine reported at the time of the 2015 sale that the Chateau Louis XIV -- which has fountains that can be controlled by iPhone -- had smashed records to become the world's priciest home.

On the outside, the mansion looks like a 17th-century chateau in the style of the palace at nearby Versailles, but it is in fact a new-build that went up after its Saudi developer bulldozed the existing 19th-century property.

Its antique facades hide modern facilities including a cinema, deluxe swimming pool and a moat with a transparent underwater chamber so that visitors can enjoy the sight of koi carp swimming past.

The 57-acre plot includes manicured gardens, huge fountains and a maze, while the interiors are lavishly decorated with gilding and fresco ceilings.

- Corruption crackdown -

The Times report comes after the prince had dozens of members of the Saudi elite including princes, ministers and tycoons locked up in Riyadh's 5-star Ritz-Carlton hotel as part of an anti-corruption campaign.

Many have since agreed to hand over allegedly ill-gotten gains in exchange for their freedom, Saudi attorney general Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb said earlier this month.

In an interview with the Times in November, Prince Mohammed described as "ludicrous" reports equating the crackdown with a political purge to eliminate rivals before he becomes king.

The Times reported that he bought the chateau through a firm managed through his personal foundation, Eight Investment Company, which also handled his 2015 purchase of a $500 million yacht.

Along with the chateau and yacht, the Times also reported earlier this month that a Leonardo da Vinci painting sold for $450.3 million in November was sold to a Saudi prince acting on behalf of the crown prince.

The yacht purchase, sealed with the help of an army of lawyers and accountants in Germany, Bermuda and the Isle of Man, was revealed through the Paradise Papers document leak.

 

Kurdish militia fire rockets at Turkish town

Sudan clamps down on journalists covering bread protests

Egypt's Sisi says will stand for re-election

Pence heads to Mideast despite Muslim, Christian anger

US to overtake Saudi as world’s second crude oil producer

Moroccans wary depreciation of dirham could raise cost of living, despite benefits

Deserted streets, terrified civilians after Turkey attacks Afrin

Iraqi, Kurdish leaders hold talks on bitter regional dispute

Russia-led Syria peace congress to be held January 30

Turkey launches new strikes on Kurdish targets in Syria

Assad regime says Syria a 'tourist' destination

Journalists arrested while reporting Sudan protests

Aid for millions of Palestinians hostage to politics

Lebanon thwarts holiday attacks using IS informant

Mortar fire wounds 14 in Syria mental hospital

Turkish military fires on Kurdish forces in Syria's Afrin

More than 32,000 Yemenis displaced in intensified fighting

UN warns of "lost generation" in South Sudan's grinding conflict

Saudi's refined oil exports offset crude curbs

Turkey's EU minister rejects any option other than full membership

Tribal feuds spread fear in Iraq's Basra

Turkey says not reassured by US comments on border force

UN chief wants to revive Syria gas attack probe

US has no intention to build border force in Syria

Lebanese intelligence service may be spying using smartphones worldwide

Egypt's Sisi sacks intelligence chief

Trump dashes Netanyahu’s hope to move US embassy to Jerusalem

Cyprus denies bail for Israeli organ trafficker

Rising Yemen currency sparks hopes of relief

Turkish ministries to investigate underage pregnancy cover-up

Iraq PM launches online appeal for election allies

Iran central bank sees claim for billions from German stock market blocked

Iraq signs deal with BP to develop Kirkuk oil fields

Israeli occupation forces raid Jenin, kill Palestinian

HRW chief says 'Nobody should be forcibly returned to Libya'

IS poses threat to Iraq one month after 'liberation'

Seven years since ousting dictator, Tunisians still protest

Iran says Trump jeopardising Airbus deals

China says Iranian oil tanker wreck located

Sudan arrests communist leader after protests

Syrian opposition joins condemnation of US 'border force'

Israeli judge detains teen until trial for viral ‘slap video’

Arab league slams US freeze of Palestinian funding

Dubai billionaire to sell 15 percent Damac stake

Britain to put women at heart of peace work in Iraq, Nigeria, South Sudan