During his trip to France to meet President Emmanuel Macron, Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is staying at a lavish chateau dubbed “the world’s most expensive home” when he bought it in 2015.
The Chateau Louis XIV in Louveciennes just outside Paris is a recently built mansion intended to mimic the extravagant luxury of the nearby Versailles Palace, once the seat of the French royal family.
The 7,000-square-metre property was bought by an anonymous buyer in 2015 for $300 million at the time, prompting the title “the world’s most expensive home” by Fortune magazine.
The Saudi Prince, colloquially known as MBS, was reported to be the ultimate owner via a series of shell companies.
Local government officials confirmed that the controversial heir to the Saudi throne was staying at the property ahead of his dinner at the more modest Elysee presidential palace with President Macron later Thursday for talks that critics in France view as inappropriate.
Bin Salman was believed by US intelligence to have backed the gruesome murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.
After 4 years as an international pariah, Western leaders have resumed courting the Saudi Prince as they urgently seek fresh energy supplies to replace lost Russian production.
In a twisted series of events, the Chateau Louis XIV was built by Khashoggi’s cousin Emad Khashoggi who runs a luxury property development business in France.
Chateau Louis XIV was built in 2009 after a 19th-century castle on the plot was bulldozed.
Bin Salman’s extravagant spending since emerging as the de-facto ruler in Saudi Arabia has repeatedly made headlines.
The son of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud bought a $500-million yacht in 2015 and was also reported to be the mystery buyer of a $450-million Leonardo da Vinci painting in 2017.