Czech billionaire buys ‘little Versailles’ outside Paris

Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky has bought a historic 18th-Century chateau outside Paris, a local mayor confirmed Tuesday, adding a luxury hotel project to his existing French media and retail empire.

“The former owners told me that they went to the notary in June” to formalise the sale of the Chateau du Marais, said Serge Deloges, mayor of the village of Val-Saint-Germain around 40 kilometres (25 miles) south of the capital.

Kretinsky’s representatives in France declined to comment when contacted by AFP about the sale, which was first reported by daily Le Monde.

Worth 43 million euros ($42.5 million) according to Bloomberg News, it covers the stately home as well as the 35-hectare (86-acre) estate with its vast reflecting pool.

The chateau is reputedly one of the finest built during the reign of King Louis XVI, who was executed in 1793 during the French Revolution.

It was previously open to visitors and available to hire for events, as a film set or even for treasure hunts.

But Kretinsky, whose net worth is estimated at $5 billion by Forbes magazine, plans to turn it into a luxury hotel, Deloges said.

Le Monde reported that the 47-year-old’s plans focus on horse-riding activities in the chateau’s park.

“It will mean work for local craftsmen and once it’s open, we can hope for jobs to be created in the region,” Deloges added.

Kretinsky, whose fortune is founded on media and energy in the Czech Republic, has a slew of high-profile investments in France.

His holdings range across media including Elle Magazine and Le Monde, where he is a minority shareholder, as well as retail chains like Casino supermarkets and electronics, books and media group Fnac Darty. — Agence France-Presse

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