Billionaire loses £36m deposit on most expensive home in the world

Billionaire loses £36m deposit on most expensive home in the world


The world’s 24th richest man, Mikhail Prokhorov, worth an estimated £6 billion, has lost a £36 million deposit, as well as £1 million in interest, after backing out in his bid to buy the world’s most expensive house, according to a report in the Mail newspaper.

Located on the French Riviera, the 20-acre villa property was built by King Leopold II of Belgium in 1902 and has 11 bedrooms and 14 bathrooms, a swimming pool and extensive grounds.

Mr Prokhorov made an initial ten percent down payment in 2008, but later chose to back out of the sale when the property market crashed amidst the global economic downturn. The lost deposit is thought to be the largest ever for a private residence.

Due to French property law, a deposit can only be returned during a seven day ‘cooling-off’ period after initial sale contract has been signed. A French court chose to uphold this, and as a result, the villa’s owner, Lily Safra, has been allowed to keep the money. The court has also forced him to pay an additional £1 million interest.

Mrs Safra, 71, inherited the villa from her husband Edmund Safra, a billionaire banker, who was murdered in 1999, by one of his male nurses.

She has said she will donate the money to ten charities, including King’s College, London and Imperial College Neuroscience Research centres. Mrs Safra says that she hopes to encourage others to “support medical research and other humanitarian causes”.

This was Mr Prokhorov’s second court visit in a year, after being embroiled in a prostitute scandal in the French ski resort of Courcheval in 2007. He was later cleared of the charges in September 2009, however remains notorious in his native Russia for his lavish ‘playboy’ lifestyle.

The current head of investment fund group Onexim and Polyrus Gold, Mr Prokhorov says he still intends to go ahead with a $200 dollar deal to purchase U.S. basketball team New Jersey Jets.

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