The Chateau Louis XIV is widely touted as the world’s most expensive house after it was sold for more than $300 million in 2015 and now it’s elusive buyer has been revealed to be none other than Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
An investigation by the New York Times named Salman as the buyer, tracing ownership through a series of shell companies that eventually trailed back to Eight Investment Company, a Saudi firm Salman’s personal foundation manages.
His identity as the buyer comes at an awkward time back home; Salman recently ordered a crackdown on corruption, arresting notable businessmen and royals from across Saudi society. At the same time, he’s also been identified as the buyer of a string of lavish purchases including the record-breaking da Vinci painting, which sold for $450 million, and a yacht for $500 million.
“He has tried to build an image of himself, with a fair amount of success, that he is different, that he’s a reformer, at least a social reformer, and that he’s not corrupt,” said Bruce O. Riedel, a former C.I.A. analyst to the Times. “And this is a severe blow to that image.”
The chateau, though resembling a vestige from the 17th-century, was redone in 2009 and is completely controlled via iPhone apps — from air conditioning systems to sound systems, lights to fountains. There is also an underwater room with a transparent ceiling gazing up into the chateau’s moat, a movie theater and wine cellar, among the other amenities to be expected in the world’s priciest home.
[NYT] — Erin Hudson