Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is staying in a lavish chateau, dubbed the “world’s most expensive house” in 2015, during his visit to France to meet with President Emmanuel Macron.
Chateau Louis XIV in Louvaisciens outside Paris is a newly-built mansion intended to mimic the extravagant luxury of the nearby Versailles Palace, which was once the seat of the French royal family.
The 7,000-square-metre property was purchased in 2015 for 275 million euros ($300 million at the time) by an unnamed buyer, with Fortune magazine calling it “the world’s most expensive home”.
Bin Salman, 36, was reported to be the final owner two years later by The New York Times through a series of shell companies.
Local government officials confirmed to AFP that the controversial heir to the Saudi throne was staying at the property ahead of his dinner with Macron on Thursday.
Outside the perimeter wall, reporters saw security personnel in suits at the entrance and a large police presence, including half a dozen vehicles.
Macron and bin Salman were due to meet later on Thursday at the more modest Elysee Rashtrapati Bhavan, which critics of France see as unfair.
Bin Salman was judged by US intelligence for sanctioning itAt the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in 2018.
But after four years as an international pariah, the prince is being loved again by Western leaders as they urgently seek fresh energy supplies to replace lost Russian production.
In a twist of history, Chateau Louis XIV was built by Khashoggi’s cousin Imad Khashoggi, who runs a luxury property development business in France.
The chateau has a nightclub, a gold-leaf fountain, a cinema, as well as an underwater glass chamber in the moat that resembles a huge aquarium with white leather sofas.
Images on the website of Imad Khashoggi’s company Cogemad also show a wine cellar, although alcohol is strictly prohibited in Saudi Arabia.
Chateau Louis XIV was built in 2009, after the 19th-century palace on the plot was bulldozed.
Bin Salman’s extravagance has been in the news time and again since his emergence as the main powerbroker in Saudi Arabia.
King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s son bought a yacht for $500 million in 2015 and was also reported to be the mystery buyer of a $450 million Leonardo da Vinci painting in 2017.
The latter purchase is officially rejected.
in an interview withBin Salman said that he does not need to apologize for leading a lavish lifestyle.
“I am a rich person and not a poor person. I am not Gandhi or” [Nelson] Mandela,” he said. “I am a member of the ruling family that existed hundreds of years before the founding of Saudi Arabia.”
He also said that he spends a major part of his wealth on charity.
“I spend at least 51 percent on people and 49 percent on myself,” he said.