Campari sells Cap Ferrat mansion

A villa in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat, ranked the most expensive in the world when it went up for sale in 2017, has been sold to a private buyer. Italy’s Campari Group agreed to sell its 188-year-old French mansion, Villa Les Cèdres, for a total of €200 million.

Photo: Jean-Christophe Magnenet

The villa in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat was part of Campari’s acquisition of Société des Produits Marnier Lapostolle (SPML), the parent company of Grand Marnier liqueur, in 2016. However, the property was deemed “non-strategic” to the firm’s core spirit business and was subsequently put up for sale.

Built in 1830, Villa Les Cèdres was bought in 1850 by the mayor of Villefranche sur Mer and operated as an olive tree farm. The mayor’s descendants sold the property in 1904 to King Leopold II of Belgium, who had Niçoise architects Sébastien-Marcel Biasini and Aaron Messiah redesign it in a late 19th century style.

It was then acquired by Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle in 1924 and for 80 years the family cultivated thousands of exotic plants that now fill the manicured grounds. According to reports, it was in the orchards near the home that the family harvested bigarades, the bitter oranges used to flavour Grand Marnier.

In addition to the 1,672 m2 villa and 14 hectares of prime coastal land within “billionaire’s peninsula”, as it is otherwise known, the property also boasts an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a large stable, a pond and decadent interiors.

Campari Group released a statement on 1st August saying it had reached a “preliminary agreement” to sell Villa Les Cèdres to an undisclosed buyer for €200 million, of which the Italian firm will retain €80 million.

The sale price is far below the €350 million list price that the owner was betting on more than two years ago. Still, it is one of the largest real estate transactions in the world this year.

The deal is expected to close by 31st October 2019, subject to conditions, including the vacancy of one Marnier-Lapostolle family member who resides in the villa. Following the sale, the villa is intended for private use.