It seems the French Riveria is not immune to the economic downturn.
There is a dispute over the world’s most expensive house – Villa Leopolda in Villefranche-sur-Mer. The owner says Russia’s richest businessman wanted to buy it and then pulled out of the deal. A spokesman for billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov denied that, but court papers show his investment company is trying to get back a 10 percent deposit of 39 million euros. The head of the conveyancing solicitors association for the French Riveria, Jean-Jacques Hermant, said: “I don’t know if it was Mr Prokhorov, or Mr X or Mr Y, but any shrewd businessman – French or otherwise – would have the same reaction – renegotiate the price.” The villa’s owner, Lilly Safra, told the Financial Times she is going to give the 39 million euros to charity. But could there be other buyers in the wings? Cote d’Azur estate agent Michael Zingraf said: “There are less interest from ‘billionaires.’ but there are always millionaires. So for the smaller budgets – between three and 10 million – there is still enough demand.” But the economic downturn has taken its toll, among the super-rich estate agent say that prices for some mansions on the French Riveria are down by as much as 15 percent.