Last week, French authorities seized Roman Abramovich’s Riviera villa, Chateau de la Croe. Given the oligarch spent £125m doing the place up, this must come as a blow, says Dominic Midgely in the Daily Mail. When the Chelsea owner first visited the property in 2001 it was nothing but a “burnt-out shell”. A fire had ruined the chateau in 1970, and it had been empty ever since. But Abramovich thought it had potential, so he paid the £15m asking price and then did four years’ worth of renovations. Now the 12-bedroom home has a basement replete with gym and cinema, “and a 15-metre pool takes pride of place on the roof”.
Abramovich is not the chateau’s first glitzy owner. In 1938, it was bought by Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII, two years after his abdication. The couple were fond of the area and the chateau was undoubtedly “fit for a former king”, with a dining room that seated 24, a drawing room lined with tapestries, and a 20-carat gold gilded bathtub in the shape of a swan. But in 1949 Edward and Wallis upped sticks and moved to Paris. Apparently, the Duke was bored by the south of France – there weren’t, he complained, any golf courses.