Press Sotheby’s International Realty France - Monaco

Article in Mansion Global on the Château de la Barben- 2017, July, 17th

Article in Mansion Global on the Château de la Barben- 2017, July, 17th
A 1,000-year old French castle with a prominent history is on the market for €15 million, (US$17 million).
“It’s almost like a historic theme park,” said Nick Johansen, of Sotheby’s International Realty, the listing agent for the property.

The 60-room, 50,000-square-foot Château de la Barben is 20 minutes from Aix-en-Provence, in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, a southern French region known for its picturesque landscapes, rosé wine and elite residents, like Angelina Jolie, Baroness Michelle Mone, Brad Pitt and Rod Stewart.
The medieval fortress has an incredible history. It was first mentioned in Abbaye de Saint Victor in Marseille in 1064, according to the listing, and was occupied by  various royal families until 1474. That year, La Barben was sold by King Rene to the de Forbin family. Jean II de Forbin was one of the key figures in bringing Provence back into the kingdom of Louis XI, according to the property’s site.

The gardens were designed by one of Louis XIV’s most famous gardeners and landscape architects, Andre Le Nôtre, the man behind the park of Palace de Versailles. La Barben is also the site of the love affair between Princess Pauline Borghese, the sister of Napoleon I, and Auguste de Forbin. It is said that the princess used to bathe in the ornamental pond of the gardens, the listing stated.
Fast forward 500 years: André Pons, an agricultural engineer, bought the estate from Marquis de Forbin family in 1963. It was Mr. Pons who invested in the property’s repairs and modernization. He opened up half of the castle to the public to generate revenue for maintenance and started holding events to bring life into the estate, according to Mr. Johansen. La Barben was restored by Mr. Pons to a livable state, throughout his family’s residence there.
Current seller Bertrand Pillivuyt, owner of the Pillivuyt porcelain company, inherited the property from his wife’s father, André Pons, in 2006.“They’ve put so much work into it and I think they just want to move on,”  Mr. Johansen said.

Bloomberg first broke the story with an interview with Mr.  Pillivuyt, who could not be immediately reached for a comment.
The interiors are maintained to be authentically medieval and retain the property’s history.
Each of the home’s 60 rooms has unique architectural elements and design styles with tapestry, fireplaces and subterranean passages, which give a glimpse into the antique world.
Château de la Barben has maintained its medieval past with arrow slits, watchtowers, vaults and dungeons.
One of the main attractions of the 760-acre castle is how accessible it is. The property is very close to the airport, and the main town. Chateaus of this size are often tucked away in the hilltops and aren’t as easily to reach, Mr. Johansen said.
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Article in Mansion Global - Originally published on June 15, 2017

Article in Mansion Global - Originally published on June 15, 2017

Pasta Heir Lists Swiss Estate for About $72 Million - Riccardo Barilla, a descendant of the founder of the pasta company, is selling Domaine Pré Saint Jean, a roughly 10-acre estate just outside Genev

A Swiss estate owned for decades by a branch of the Barilla family, founders of the pasta company, is asking 70 million Swiss francs, or roughly $72 million.

Known as Domaine Pré Saint Jean, the roughly 10-acre estate located just outside Geneva in the wealthy suburb of Vandoeuvres is among the most expensive homes for sale in Switzerland right now, according to listing agent Alexander Kraft of Sotheby’s International Realty France—Monaco.

Owner Riccardo Barilla said his branch of the family sold their stake of the eponymous family business in the 1970s, after which his parents moved from Italy to Switzerland; the company is now owned by his cousins.

Mr. Barilla, a banker, said he first moved into Domaine Pré Saint Jean as a teenager in the 1970s, when his parents bought the house. After inheriting the estate a few years ago, he and his wife embarked on an extensive renovation of the interior to give it a more contemporary look.

With views of Mont Blanc, the main house measures about 9,470 square feet with four bedrooms, plus a terrace and a basement including the home’s original wine cellar, Mr. Kraft said. A renovated barn serves as a guesthouse, with five bedrooms, a kitchen and a garage; a former stable now includes three studio apartments for staff. Mr. Barilla obtained permits for two additional houses to be built on the property.

Mr. Barilla said the couple initially planned to live in the house once the renovation was completed, but their plans have changed and they now want to relocate to Italy.

Mr. Kraft noted that Geneva, one of the priciest cities in the world, has previously seen homes sales in the $80 million range.

written by Candace Taylor
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Wall Street Journal du 3 décembre 2015

château de castille quoted in the wall Street journal

Château de Castille Goes on the Market for $9.66 Million

In Provence, the castle’s Picasso murals are classified as historic monuments by the government.

Château de Castille, a castle in Southern France with Picassos etched on its walls, is going on the market for the first time in decades. It is seeking roughly $9.66 million.

The seven-bedroom stone castle was purchased in 1950 by the late Douglas Cooper, an art collector and friend of Picasso, according to Alexander Kraft, chairman and CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty France. The famed artist had five of his drawings—including nudes and bullfighting imagery—sandblasted onto walls at the castle, finishing the project in 1963, Mr. Kraft said. The murals, located on a covered outdoor loggia, and other parts of the castle are now classified as historic monuments by the French government, so they can’t be removed or demolished, Mr. Kraft said.

Located in Provence near the town of Uzès, about a 7-hour drive from Paris, the castle was originally built in the 1300s but embellishments were added around 1790. On roughly 5 acres, it has about 6,000 square feet of living space, including two dining rooms and several kitchens. While the castle “definitely needs some updating,” Mr. Kraft said, “structurally it’s quite sound.”

Art historian and Picasso biographer John Richardson, who lived with Mr. Cooper at the Château de Castille for years, said the artist often attended bullfights in the area and was a frequent visitor. “We’d have lunch with Picasso and go to the bullfight together,” Mr. Richardson said.

Picasso installed the drawings after Mr. Cooper expressed admiration for similar murals in Barcelona, Mr. Richardson said.

The castle is owned by the family of Nicolas de Bykhovetz, according to his daughter, Nathalie Benoit. She said the family is selling because now that her parents have died, they don’t use it as much. “We all feel sad, but we have to be reasonable,” she said.

Uzès Sotheby’s International Realty has the listing. 

By Candace Taylor

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New York Times

house hunting in paris - new york times

du 21 octobre 2015

House.... Hunting in Paris



This second-floor apartment is in a 1912 building designed by the architect Albert Sélonier in a transitional Art Nouveau style, blending the parquet floors, high ceilings and traditional moldings of the Haussmann era  with geometric design elements that were forward-looking for the time. The décor is by Kara Molinari, an interior designer, and features bespoke carpets and artwork. The furnishings in the 2,940-square-foot space will be negotiable as part of the sale. A spacious terrace shaded by an awning overlooks an interior courtyard.

“My idea was to bring the flat into the 21st century with classic style,” Ms. Molinari said. The focal point of the apartment is a traditional entry hall, with large paned doors opening into various rooms. Walls and woodwork in shades of dark blue are set against a gilt-framed mirror, a leopard-print rug and a settee upholstered in gold fabric.

To the left is an open-plan living and dining space, which is divided by Doric columns. Painted on the ceiling above the Jean Prouvé dining table is a geometric design inspired by the Russian Constructivism art movement of the 1920s. The living area features sofas by Philippe Starck, an Artemide Mercury light fixture, and a carpet designed by Ms. Molinari.

Beyond the living room is the master bedroom, which includes a walk-in closet and a boudoir with a Murano glass chandelier and gold leaf artwork by Ms. Molinari. The master bathroom has a 10-foot-long shower area, a free-standing tub by the Australian company Victoria & Albert, and matching floor and ceiling tiles by the Spanish company Porcelanosa. Ms. Molinari has embedded LED lights above the tub to create an impression of a night sky.

The modern eat-in kitchen, to the right of the entry hall, has a Siemens side-by-side refrigerator/freezer and induction cooktop, and sleek, integrated cabinetry, with quartz counters, made by the Italian company Arrital to Ms. Molinari’s specifications. Doors open to the terrace.

Down the entry hall is a family room and library with a custom carpet, a fireplace and doors that open wide to the terrace. At the far end of the entry hall, a service corridor with laundry facilities leads to the other three bedrooms and two full bathrooms. There is a storage room in the basement as well as parking under the building.

The apartment is in the Trocadéro neighborhood, in the 16th arrondissement, across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower. The 16th is one of the largest arrondissements in the city. The area is served by the No. 6 Metro line, and offers easy access to the Périphérique ring road around Paris. Orly airport is about 30 minutes’ drive; Charles de Gaulle airport, about 45 minutes.



Foreign buyers have long gravitated toward the city’s historic core — the arrondissements, or districts, on either side of the Seine. On the Left Bank, that means the Seventh around the Eiffel Tower and the gallery- and boutique-lined streets in the Sixth along the Boulevard St.-Germain, which runs roughly east to west a few blocks in from the Seine.

The city’s highest real estate prices can be found in the Eighth Arrondissement on the Right Bank, home of the “Golden Triangle” of luxury shopping and hotels, followed closely by its neighbor to the west, the vast 16th arrondissement.

While Paris may have been eclipsed somewhat by the glamorous new high-rises of New York and London, overseas buyers value the city precisely because the pace of development has been slow, agents said. The market remains a conservative one, with little foreign demand for properties in gentrifying or trendy neighborhoods.

“People come to Paris to buy the typical Paris flat,” said Alexander Kraft, the chairman and chief executive of Sotheby’s International Realty France, which is listing the apartment. “They want the parquet floor, the moldings, the fireplace, the balcony that runs around.”

Home prices in Paris saw a run-up in the 2000s that largely continued through the collapse of Lehman Brothers, agents said. But uncertainty surrounding the presidential election of 2012, won by the Socialist François Hollande — who ran partly on a platform of raising taxes on the wealthy — sent prices tumbling.

“We were for over 10 years in a seller’s market,” said Marie-Hélène Lundgreen, the director of Belles Demeures de France, a subsidiary of Daniel Féau, which is a Christie’s affiliate. “Then in 2012, the elections, it was completely the contrary. We got into a buyer’s market with more inventory and prices went down.”

Prices have fallen about 15 percent since 2012, according to a report from Ms. Lundgreen’s agency. But the market has shown signs of rebounding, with the number of transactions rising, if not prices, in the  past 12 months.

“We are not expecting prices to go up again immediately,” Ms. Lundgreen said,  “but we see inventory coming down, and the market might change into a seller’s market again.”

Part of that activity is because of the weakness in the euro, agents said, but equally important is that sellers have started to negotiate more and even have cut prices.

“Finally, at the end of last year some sellers started to adjust prices,” Mr. Kraft said. “These days,  you bring an offer of minus 20 percent and sellers will say, let’s talk.”



The luxury market in Paris — for apartments $2 million and over — is notable for its diversity. “There’s not one predominant group, really,” Mr. Kraft said. In the last year, “Americans have come on strong,” he said, with the number of buyers from Russia and China falling sharply because of economic and political factors in those countries.

Data provided by Ms. Lundgreen showed that in 2014, 32 percent of buyers were from the Middle East, 23 percent from Europe and 19 percent from North America, with the remainder largely from Russia and Asia.

According to a survey from BNP Paribas, the number of properties in France sold to overseas buyers rose 1.5 percent in 2014, after falling the previous two years — 1 percent from 2011 to 2012, and 13 percent from 2012 to 2013. That upward trend continued through the first five months of 2015, the survey found. Corresponding to the strength of the dollar and the British pound against the euro, the number of American buyers increased by 12 percent in 2014, and the number of British buyers by 33 percent.

“Frankly, in comparison to other big capitals, Paris is quite cheap, really,” Mr. Kraft said. “Maybe one-third the price in New York or London. The attraction is very diverse, and this is reflected in the nationalities. For some, it’s fashion, for others it’s business.”


There are no restrictions on foreign buyers. All transactions go through a notary, who is responsible for details like contracts, verifying the legality of the deed and ensuring that taxes are collected and paid.

Buyers should budget about 8 percent to 10 percent of the sales price for taxes and notary fees, the majority of which are transfer taxes. It is usually not necessary to retain a lawyer.


City of Paris:

Paris tourism:

Buying property in France:


Property taxes for this home are about $4,000 a year, and condominium fees are about $13,700 a year.


French; euro (1 euro = $1.14)


Paulo Fernandes, Paris Ouest Sotheby’s International Realty, (011-33) 1 46 22 27 27;


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​Vanity Fair USA le 22 juin 2015

Article de Vanity Fair sur Sotheby's International Realty
Johnny Depp Is Selling His Private Village in France

The 37-acre estate includes a bar, a chapel, and a pirate-themed wine cave.

If you are a movie star of Johnny Depp’s caliber, we imagine that there are few places where you can go without being immediately detected, harassed by paparazzi, and overwhelmed by well-meaning fans. So that privacy predicament, when paired with savvy investment impulses, may explain why Depp bought himself his own Caribbean island and a private village in the South of France. Now, however, the actor is unloading the latter, meaning that if you have about $26 million to spare, you can finally live out your fantasy of being one of the world’s most sought-after actors, finding solitude in a secluded 37-acre estate.

Per the Sotheby’s listing, Depp purchased the Plan de la Tour, France, estate in 2001, and “spent a substantial amount of time on the property with his then partner, French actress and singer Vanessa Paradis.” The actor also spent over $10 million restoring the village, which is made up of “more than a dozen buildings, including a main house, several guest cottages, a chapel, a bar & restaurant, a workshop/garage, [and] a staff house.”

“Contrary to many other properties of major international celebrities, Johnny Depp's estate has not been decorated by an interior designer, but by Johnny himself,” explains Alexander Kraft of Sotheby’s. “As a consequence, the estate is not a ritzy showplace, but an utterly charming family home that truly reflects Johnny Depp's unique character and taste.”

As such, the property features a number of wonderfully Johnny Depp—esque features that Kraft outlined to The Wall Street Journal. Among them:
  • “A covered wagon that Mr. Depp outfitted with a bathroom and kitchen.”
  • “[A] church that Mr. Depp converted into a guest house; a former confessional is now a wardrobe.”
  • “A restaurant with a full professional kitchen, which Mr. Depp used as ‘basically the dining room.’”
  • “A laundry building and a garage, all made to look like local businesses.”
  • “There are two swimming pools, as well as a gym and a skate park with a halfpipe that Mr. Depp built for his son.”
  • “A wine cave in the main house has a Pirates of the Caribbean motif, with skulls and brightly colored scarves.”

In addition to getting a Pirates of the Caribbean–themed wine cave designed by the headlining pirate of the Disney franchise, Depp is also including a number of his personal effects with the property including, “furniture, books, DVDs, [and] art.”

Written by Julie Miller