The Russian Billionaire, the 44 year old Mikhail Prokhorov, the world’s 24th richest man and once owner of the platinum and nickel conglomerate ‘Norilisk’, has lost a £36 million property deposit.

He offered £360 million for the Villa Leopolda in Villefranche sur mer on the French Riviera. In doing so he put down a £36 million deposit but subsequently pulled out because of the global economic problems. But, because he was outside the French law 7 day cooling off period, the French courts have deemed that he should forfeit his deposit.

The villa was built for King Leopold II of Belgium in 1902. It was bought the 1950s by Giovanni Agnelli. Edmond Safra, the Lebanese banker, then bought it and left it to his wife Lily Safra (nee Watkins, a Brazilian philanthropist and social figure) on his death.

In 2009 Lily was estimated to be worth about $1 billion making her the 701st richest person on the planet. Now that she is over £36 million better off, in true philanthropic fashion, she plans to give the money to a variety of charities. The Daily Mail lists them as:


King’s College, London (Neuroscience Research), Imperial College, London (Neuroscience Research), Claude Pompidou Institute for Alzheimer’s Disease, Nice, Institute for Brain and Spinal Cord Disorders, Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, Paris, Sidaction: Together Against AIDS, France, A Window to Tomorrow – A Computer for Every Child, Israel, Edmond and Lily Safra Children’s Hospital, Tel Hashomer, Israel, Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University, Massachusetts, Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, New York, Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, Rwanda.

Estimated to be worth some £6 billion, Mr Prokhorov has been up in front of the French courts before. He was arrested in 2007 but cleared earlier this year for allegedly arranging prostitutes for his guests in the Courcheval ski resort.

This property deal has been bad news for him, but good news for many charities.



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