Swiss billionaire sells Bel-Air home that Feds tried to seize 

Mansion sells for $23M, or barely a third of its original asking price

Swiss Billionaire Sells Bel-Air Home That Feds Tried to Take
VistaJet's Thomas Flohr with 755 Sarbonne Road in Los Angeles (Google Maps, Getty)

Swiss aviation billionaire Thomas Flohr has sold a Bel-Air mansion that the Justice Department tried to seize due to its links to a Nigerian corruption scandal. 

The home, located at 755 Sarbonne Road, traded for $22.5 million, or a little more than a third of its asking price when the home was first listed in 2022. The mansion, a 15,000-square-foot estate that has an “olive grove reminiscent of Southern Italy,” was originally offered for sale at $63 million.

The identity of the buyer was not disclosed. Brokers Mauricio Umansky, CEO of The Agency, and Kurt Rappaport of Westside Estate Agency held the listing.

The deal comes more than two years after Flohr agreed to a $16 million settlement to resolve the Justice Department forfeiture case. The entity that owns the home, Sarbonne Estate Inc., acquired the asset from Nigerian businessman Kolawole Aluko in 2016, according to a previous report from Bloomberg. Aluko was accused of bribing an executive from Nigeria’s state-owned oil company in exchange for lucrative oil contracts that generated more than $100 million in proceeds.

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A disclosure filing from Sarbonne Estate showed that Flohr controlled the company through an entity registered in the British Virgin Islands. Aluko, who was a client of Flohr’s private jet company VistaJet, reportedly surrendered the Sarbonne Road property to Flohr to settle a $21.6 million debt. Aluko owed the amount due to “exclusive, owner-like access” of a Bombardier Global 600 aircraft for more than three years. 

Flohr was not accused of taking part in the Nigerian oil scandal. However, the Justice Department said that he should have known that the property would be subject to forfeiture because several news outlets published reports on Aluko’s alleged ties to money laundering. Flohr’s counsel countered by arguing that Flohr “did not reasonably have cause to believe” that Aluko bought the mansion with money that can be traced back to criminal activity. 

Since coming on the market, the home had its asking price reduced several times. It went under contract on April 30 with its last asking price at $39.9 million, according to Zillow. 

Flohr could not be reached for comment.