International socialite Lily Safra did not want to sell La Leopolda, her lavish and legendarily high-maintenance 20ish acre estate in the South of France. Back in late November of 2009, Your Mama heard from Miz Safra's man in Paris who told us, "A purchase proposal was spontaneously–and repeatedly–made by one potential buyer and was finally accepted last year. However, the purchase was never completed. The residence is not being sold and was never offered for sale." Our little pea brain translates that to: Miz Safra was not–and is still not–seeking a buyer for La Leopolda, but, let's be honest chickens, when someone offers you half a billion bucks for a house, you say yes.
The "potential buyer" was Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov who provided Miz Safra a reported £35,000,000 down payment for the purchase of La Leopolda. It is this titanic deposit that has Miz Safra and Mister Prokhorov duking it out in the French courts.
According to a recent report in the Telegraph, Mister Prokhorov's legal people told a court in Nice that in August of 2008 a promesse de vente–that's a sale agreement to all us English speakers–was signed by Mister Prokhorov signaling his intent to purchase the Belle Epoque mansion. The agreed upon price, according to the Telegraph, was a jaw dropping and record breaking £347,000,000, a number that included £17,400,000 for the furnishings.
According to Your Mama's currency converting contraption, those figures translate at today's rates to $50,139, 200 for the deposit, $24,926,400 for the furniture and a total purchase price of $497,095,000. For the sake of simplicity, let's just say that based on the reported numbers, Miz Safra agreed to sell La Leopolda for approximately $475,000,000, the furnishings for an additional twenty-five million clams all of which was secured with a fifty million smacker deposit.
The big deal was to go down in January of 2009 but apparently Mister Prokhorov, who is by some accounts Russia's richest man, got a serious case of the real estate cold feet and decided not to complete the high-priced purchase. He requested his deposit be returned. She said, "nyet," then issued a public statement saying the ginormous deposit would be donated to various charities. She's rich like that. He cried foul. Then they went to court.
Miz Safra's legal people say that, according to French law, purchasers lose their deposit if they bail on the sale after the promesse de vente has been signed. Mister Prokhorov's legal peeps insist the promesse de vente became null and void due to two "anomalies." Their first argument states that Mister Prokhorov was not given a seven day "cooling off" period during which a buyer can typically back out of a sales agreement without penalty.
Their second legal beef is a claim that Miz Safra's legal proxy unlawfully included the agreed upon price for the furniture in with the price of the house making for an inaccurate reporting of the transaction figures to the French government.
Miz Safra's legal peeps said, in effect, "Pffft, that's silly" and then, somewhat curiously, demanded Mister Prokhorov compensate Miz Safra a whopping £1,300,000–or, at today's rates, $1,862,320 for all us Americanos–for the cost of "moving furniture." We'd bet our long bodied bitches Linda and Beverly that request didn't sit well with Mister Prokhorov or his legal team.
Miz Safra's legal representative, an homme by the name of Jean-Michel Darrios, claims to have an ace in their legal hole regarding this whole brouhaha and is quoted in the Telegraph, "We have written proof that Mr. Prokhorov, via his lawyers, continued to confirm his intention to by the property well after the sale agreement."
A verdict is due in March of 2010.