World’s Most Expensive Property


3 minute read

March 4, 2010

An agent in my office sold a $9,500,000 property in Toronto last month, and I thought that was a lot of money.

Apparently, it’s not.

Apparently, it’s about a third of what some people spend on furniture


By: Henry Samuel in Paris

Mikhail Prokhorov, Russia’s richest man, is seeking to reclaim a £35 million deposit on the world’s most expensive property after pulling out of a deal to buy the sumptuous Villa Leopolda on the French Riviera. 

Mr. Prokhorov, a metals magnate and investor with a fortune estimated at £5.8 billion, had signed a contract to buy the spectacular Belle Epoque mansion on the heights of Villefrance, near Nice, for £347 million, including £17.4 million for furniture and fittings.

If the sale had gone through, it would have been the highest sum paid for a house in the world.

The cream-coloured villa, set in 20 acres of gardens with Cyprus trees overlooking Cap Ferrat, was originally built for King Leopold II of Belgium. Its current owner is Lily Safra, the widow of Edmond Safra, the Lebanese-Jewish banking billionaire who was murdered by his male nurse in Monaco in 1999.

A court in Nice heard that in August last year Mr Prokhorov, 44, signed a promesse de vente or sale agreement for the villa. The astronomical price tag was seen as the latest sign of property one-upmanship between Russian oligarchs on the Riviera.

A date for signing the final sale agreement was set for Jan 20 this year. However, Mr Prokhorov failed to follow through on the deal.

As a result, Mrs Safra took the villa off the market but refused to return Mr Prokhorov’s deposit. French law stipulates that purchasers lose their deposits if they pull out after the sales agreement has been signed.

However, Mr Prokhorov’s lawyers insisted on Wednesday he should be allowed to retrieve the huge down-payment.

They argued that the sale agreement was null and void due to two technical “anomalies”. Firstly, Mr Prokhorov, they argued, should have been given a seven-day “cooling off” period in which a potential buyer can change his mind after signing a sale agreement. He was denied this as he signed under a company name. His lawyers contended that only property businesses should forgo the right to the seven days, and that his company had nothing to do with property dealing.

Secondly, they argued that Mrs Safra’s notary had illicitly lumped the furniture price tag with the house price in a declaration to the French state, which they said was grounds for cancelling the contract.

Mrs Safra’s lawyers countered that as the overall price remained the same, this changed virtually nothing for the buyer. They demanded he hand over a further £1.3 million for the cost of “moving furniture”.

Mr Prokhorov’s lawyer, Jean-Pierre Gastaud, admitted that neither party was strapped for cash. “Both are hugely rich. The house price is the same amount France hopes to retrieve from tax fraudsters in Switzerland,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

“One cannot shed tears for either over money but the law has to be applied.”

Jean-Michel Darrois, a lawyer for Mrs Safra, disputed Mr Prokhorov’s arguments.

“We have written proof that Mr Prokhorov, via his lawyers, continued to confirm his intention to buy the property well after the sale agreement,” he said.

A verdict is due on March 1 next year.


I think I’d heard enough when I read “They demanded he hand over a further £1.3 million for the cost of moving furniture.”

I gave my buddy Wes a case of beer when he helped me pull my new couch up over my terrace with rope since it wouldn’t fit through my front door, and he was incredibly thankful.

I don’t know what I would have said if Wes wanted £1.3 million…

Since when did $500,000,000 cease to be considered a lot of money?

Remember watching the original “Batman & Robin” with Adam West & Burt Ward?  Remember how they always used to say, “MILLIONAIRE, Bruce Wayne,” as if a million dollars was a lot of money?

Now people have $500,000,000 houses!  A “million dollars” isn’t what it used to be, eh?

And what do we make of $27,000,000 worth of furniture?

I guess we know it’s not IKEA…

Written By David Fleming

David Fleming is the author of Toronto Realty Blog, founded in 2007. He combined his passion for writing and real estate to create a space for honest information and two-way communication in a complex and dynamic market. David is a licensed Broker and the Broker of Record for Bosley – Toronto Realty Group

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  1. LC

    at 9:41 am

    If I had hundreds of millions of dollars, I’d probably be in southern Europe, too. There is no property in Toronto, or all of Canada for that matter, that can compare to those Mediterranean villas. Unless global warming kicks in big time, we will never have that year-round sunshine and stunning crystal clear turquoise water. Not to mention the culture and lifestyle that the well heeled in that part of the world enjoy….ahh….

  2. Adam

    at 6:37 pm

    Pizza & beer are pretty much the going rate for anyone I’ve ever helped move. 1.3 million…I’d have done it for half that!

Pick5 is a weekly series comparing and analyzing five residential properties based on price, style, location, and neighbourhood.

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