Niel Buys Paris Mansion for Over $226 Million From Qatar Prince

Niel Buys Paris Mansion for Over $226 Million From Qatar Prince

The Hotel Lambert, a property owned by Prince Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Thani, has been bought by French billionaire Xavier Niel for over 200 million euros ($226 million), according to a person familiar with the matter.

The transaction is one of the largest ever deals for a private property in Paris, beating the 100 million euros paid for the Hotel de Soyecourt in 2011.

Niel, the founder of telecom group Iliad SA , is not planning to live in the 43,000 square-foot townhouse, and is instead considering using the property for a cultural foundation, the person said, who asked not to be named discussing a private transaction.

The “hotel particulier” — the French term for a private mansion — was built in 1640 by Louis Le Vau, a royal architect who contributed to the Versailles Palace. Based on the edge of the Ile Saint-Louis, it also houses a gallery painted by Charles Le Brun, the decorator of the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. Xavier Niel declined to comment, and representatives for the al-Thani family did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

The acquisition is perhaps Niel’s most prominent investment in real-estate to date. With a fortune of $8.4 billion according to Bloomberg’s Index , he already owns dozens of prestigious properties in Paris. A keen investor in startups , he created Station F , a giant incubator set in an old railway station.

First built for financier Jean-Baptiste Lambert de Thorigny, the Hotel Lambert hosted literary salons attended by Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. With owners including Polish princess Anna Czartoryska and banker Guy de Rothschild, in 2007 it was sold for over 60 million euros to Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Thani, the brother of the former Emir of Qatar.

Qatar has invested heavily in France, buying Paris Saint-Germain Football Club in 2011. Guy de Rothschild at the home, in June 2002. A controversy was sparked in 2009 when the Qatari’s extensive renovation plan of the Lambert was made public, including a car elevator that was later abandoned . In 2013, a fire forced the owner to conduct another round of significant renovations, for a total cost of as much as 130 million euros, according to Le Figaro .

The son of the owner, Hamad bin Abdullah al-Thani, was involved in the restoration. Known as a passionate art collector, with a collection of 5,000 ancient jewels and artifacts currently being exhibited in Paris, he is also the owner of Dudley House , one of the most expensive residences in London.

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