Who are the new Côte d'Azur's mega-rich?

Sales worth tens of millions of euros, and even 100 million euros for the Maryland villa in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, which welcomed a new owner this summer. The hyper-luxury property market seems to deceive the crisis.


The days of "free" money are over. The cost of a mortgage has quadrupled in the space of a year. That's enough to dampen the spirits of more than one would-be homeowner. But not everyone. Because there is one segment of the property market that continues to resist the crisis. The hyper-luxury segment. At most, there will be a "slowdown in the number of transactions in 2023". But this should be put into perspective after "two years of euphoria".

Affected but not sunk by the war in Ukraine. "With the departure of the Russians, we thought everything was going to collapse. The truth is that we've just sold in two years what we haven't sold on the Côte d'Azur in the last twenty years", assures Charles, one of these high-flying negotiators whose "deals" are worth several tens of millions of euros.
Up to 100 million, it is said, for the villa Maryland in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, which discreetly welcomed a new owner this summer. And it's not the only one. Over the last two years, from Cap Martin to the Gulf of Saint-Tropez, several iconic Côte d'Azur properties have changed hands. They are called Château Volterra in Ramatuelle, Domaine Chantarella on Cap d'Antibes, Villa La Tour, Cuccia Noya or Bella Luna on the billionaires' peninsula of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat... What they all have in common is that the sale price of each one exceeds €50 million!

"There will always be buyers for this type of property," says Frédéric Ernandes. The director of the John Taylor agency in Cannes also points out that the Russians have not dominated the Côte d'Azur luxury property market "for nearly ten years now, following the annexation of Crimea". Instead, his clients are wealthy French or Northern European industrialists. "They've sold their business or decided to retire and are taking advantage of the opportunity to buy a second home by the sea. They come here because it's a safe and pleasant environment".

Ukrainians and young tech wolves

This is also what some wealthy Ukrainians have been looking for since the outbreak of hostilities in their country, notes Charles, the negotiator. "In Beaulieu and Saint-Jean, they have replaced the Russians. Although they usually rent, some are taking advantage of the opportunity to invest their money far from the war.
Witness the €65 million bid that Jan Koum has just made for the Château de la Garoupe, Boris Berezovsky's former home on Cap d'Antibes. The founder of WhatsApp ticks at least two boxes in the typical profile of the Côte d'Azur's new mega-rich. He's also part of the young generation of techies now entering the Côte d'Azur hyperluxury market. "They're between 35 and 45 at the most and already have considerable resources!

Magnates of the pharmaceutical industry

New buyers also include pharmaceutical tycoons. The pandemic has not only boosted property transactions. It has also boosted the profits of some pharmaceutical companies and their shareholders' dividends. All the more reason for them to invest in property. In Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, for example, the Martin brothers (from the Eurofins group of medical analysis and biology laboratories) have bought no fewer than four villas. And in Ramatuelle, where the German founder of the PharmaSGP group has just bought the Volterra estate.
These purchases are not always purely for pleasure. They are sometimes part of a financial rationale. Frédéric Ernandes notes that some houses are bought to set up "hotel-related activities". Or for investment purposes. The Côte d'Azur property market is attracting increasing interest from investment funds. Like the Parisian group Midston Capital, which has reportedly just bought the villa La Tour, at the end of Pointe Saint-Hospice, for a whopping 85 million euros!

Also in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat this summer, the New York founder of Millenium Management bought the former property of Paul Allen (co-founder of Microsoft). Another American goldenboy snapped up Bernard Tapie's Tropez villa at auction. The Côte d'Azur's new mega-rich are Tony Tamer, Israel Englander, Clemens Fisher and Gilles and Yves-Loïc Martin.

Article written by Eric Galliano, published on 10/12/2023, Monaco-Matin (translated in ENglish by Rosengart's team)

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