In September 2010, it was widely reported that the Candy Brothers (Nicholas and Christian Candy) had sold a penthouse apartment in ‘La Belle Epoque’ for €240million or ~£200million to a ‘Middle Eastern’ investor. The flat is 17,500 square feet, most of which is the roof terrace as it only has three bedrooms!
Most people living or working in Monaco raised their eyebrows when this hit the news. Local estate agencies rejoiced as they had some justification for the stubbornly high prices of property in the Principality. In truth, the market has been stagnant for around two years since the credit crash. Wealthy owners refusing to drop their prices publicly and agents refusing to be honest about the valuations.
The penthouse isn’t even a freehold, it has a 97-year lease! Why would someone, even a billionaire, pay so much for an apartment when they could buy a whole building in Monaco for that amount or a crazy estate somewhere else on the Cote d’Azur? It seems a little bit fishy to people familiar with Monaco. Even if they did feel the apartment was worth that figure, why would they want to tell the world about it?!
There are some photos of the penthouse here.
The rumour locally is that actually, the price is artificial. It was designed to get the Candy Brothers publicity (much-needed for their Hyde Park development in London) as well as draw attention to Monaco as a tax haven in an effort to kick-start the economy here. The Candy Brothers were suing their Qatari investors for £81million for pulling out of the controversial Chealsea Barracks development. The courts ruled that the Qatari’s had indeed breached their contract and that the Candy Brothers were entitled to compensation. Then everything went quiet.
Could it be that the Candy Brothers agreed to ‘sell’ their penthouse in La Belle Epoque to the Qataris for an inflated price, in lieu of compensation? It seems likely, especially as the Qataris have a vested interest in Monaco, having bought into SBM (Société des Bains de Mer) which owns many hotels and the casinos in Monaco. In terms of publicity it would be a win-win for both parties, avoiding the unwanted press attention of a huge damages payment in the UK courts.
So I don’t think it really is the most expensive property in Monaco (or indeed the World), but it is certainly an impressive property. Sadly the new owners will quickly realise it suffers from noise from the very busy road below!!