Roman Abramovich's $120m French Riviera mansion seized by French authorities

The luxury home once belonged to King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson

Roman Abramovich's £90m luxury villa Château de la Croë has been been seized by French authorities. Photo: Wikimedia
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A £90m ($120m) mansion belonging to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has been seized by French authorities.

Château de la Croë is situated on Cap d’Antibes, one of the most glamorous parts of the French Riviera, and was bought by Mr Abramovich in 2001, two years before he completed his purchase of Chelsea Football Club.

The home, built in 1926, was previously owned by England's King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, better known as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, who hosted high profile guests there including former British prime minister Winston Churchill.

The château was then owned in the 1950s by billionaire Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis and later by his lifelong rival, Stavros Niarchos.

A fire destroyed part of the property in the 1970s, and it remained abandoned for decades until Mr Abramovich swooped in and spent more than €150m on renovations over the years.

The villa was among 12 properties belonging to Mr Abramovich, most of which were bought using specially created French companies.

Mr Abramovich was among several wealthy Russians added last month to British and European Union sanctions over Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and governments have since been taking action to seize their yachts and other luxury assets.

The Duke of Windsor and Duchess of Windsor at their Riviera home in 1939. Getty

It comes as a the Royal Court of Jersey imposed a formal freezing order on $7 billion worth of assets linked to Mr Abramovich while police have searched properties linked to the billionaire, the British Channel Island's Law Officers' Department said.

In a statement, the Law Officers' Department for the self-governing British Crown Dependency said Jersey Police had on Tuesday carried out searches of premises suspected of being connected to Mr Abramovich's business activities.

“The Royal Court also imposed a formal freezing order on 12 April, known as a saisie judiciaire, over assets understood to be valued in excess of US$7 billion which are suspected to be connected to Mr Abramovich and which are either located in Jersey or owned by Jersey incorporated entities,” it said.

Earlier this month, the Caribbean nation Antigua and Barbuda said it was willing to help Britain seize yachts owned by Mr Abramovich.

Superyachts linked to the businessman, together worth an estimated $1.2 billion, have also been docked in south-west Turkey.

Mr Abramovich had sought to sell Premier League football club Chelsea before he was sanctioned, but that process was taken out of his hands by the British government after his finances were blacklisted.

Updated: April 14, 2022, 6:37 AM
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