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Inside the Market / Big Deals

Southern French villa could sell for 1 billion euros

saint-jean-cap-ferrat : Villa Les Cedres

A new world record might be reached with the sale of the villa Les Cèdres, in the South of France. Part of the Grand Marnier acquisition by Campari in March, the villa might sell again at a historic price.

The acquisition of French family business Grand Marnier by Italian spirits company Campari included a luxury villa in the South of France, but the new owners may now be selling, according to NiceMatin. The property was initially estimated at 300 million euros back in March when the sale was announced, but a new estimate of 1 billion euros is making heads spin.

Located in the heart of the Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat peninsula, near Nice, the villa was built around 1870 and once belonged to the King of Belgium, Leopold II, before being acquired by Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle, the creator of Grand Marnier.

The area is internationally known for being home to opulent mansions and villas. Nonetheless, none have ever sold for nearly as much as the villa Les Cèdres’ new estimate. Much of the property’s value no doubt stems from its rich botanic garden, spanning 35 acres and containing 20,000 plant species, some used in the manufacturing of the Grand Marnier liquor.

Alongside its fruitful botanic garden, the villa contains a rose garden and an orange garden, as well as terraces, ponds, flower-planted avenues, sculpted arches and Corinthian columns. It also boasts a swimming pool, chapel, stables, a grand reception hall and a winter garden, and prestigious neighbors, including Microsoft’s co-founder Paul Allenou and the Ferrero family.

Real estate value on the French Riviera reached new heights when another luxury home, the villa Leopolda, nearly sold for close to 400 million euros in 2008. Perched at the top of Villefranche-sur-Mer — a colorful coastal town between Nice and Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat — the property was almost bought by Russian billionaire Mikhaïl Prokhorov before the sale fell through due to the subprime crisis.

The initial estimate for the villa Les Cèdres already topped the charts — and exceeded the price for the most expensive property sold recently, the Château Louis XIV located near Paris — as transactions worth over 100 million are very rare, even on the French Riviera. If sold for 1 billion, the villa Les Cèdres would become the world’s most expensive residential property, topping the previous world record: a 500,000-acre ranch in Texas, which cost 725 million dollars — equivalent to 645 million euros.

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