In 2017, a Lebanese-born, Monaco-based property developer named Edmond Baysari placed what selling agents Sotheby’s International Realty describes as the “most beautiful and majestic castle in [the] Loire Valley” on the market. It’s so big and so costly to maintain that it remains for sale still today.
Harvard educated Mr Baysari purchased the 102,257 square foot château for about £4.3 million in 1983 from the Parisian glassmakers Saint-Gorbain. It had been used as their company retreat from 1939 and had earlier belonged to Jeanne Antoinette Poisson – the official chief mistress of Louis XV from 1745 to 1751 and a woman better known as ‘Madame de Pompadour’ – in the years prior to her premature death from tuberculosis in 1764 aged just 42.
Providing “regally appointed” accommodation so vast that it is not even described in detail that includes around 50 bedrooms and a wine cellar capable of housing 30,000 bottles amongst other things, Château de Menars – or the ‘Palace Pompadour’ as some have nicknamed it – costs around £800,000 per year to run. In total, some £80 million has been spent renovating it “using the same methods” that the king’s mistress originally employed.
Of why he is selling, the heirless businessman’s lawyer, Jack Anderson, told Reuters in 2017: “[Mr Baysari] realises destiny is going to take him… His goal is to know that it’s in the hands of someone who’s going to continue the beauty of the chateau and maintain it.”
The 104 acres of grounds that surround the château includes vineyards yielding pinot noir grapes, “elegant” geometric grassed lawns and more than a mile of frontage to the River Loire. Classical sculptures and gazebos abound and there is, according to Reuters, “a cobbled courtyard large enough to land a helicopter” also.
During Baysari’s ownership guests at Château de Menars have supposedly numbered Prince Charles, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mick Jagger and President Ronald Reagan. Now, Sotheby’s International Realty point out: “We think this could be perfect for the creation of a luxury hotel complex… Or for the acquisition of an extraordinary and very large private property.”
His “English spoken” [sic] agent, Jean-Pierre Piganiol, seeks £27.6 million and according to Forbes, “several nine-figure offers from Russian and Middle Eastern billionaires looking for a trophy home” have already been turned down.
The Names & Numbers – Château de Menars, Loire Valley, Blois, 41000, France
2000 – Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
1983 to 2017 – The sum said to have been spent on restoration of the Château de Menars is said to have been £80.1 million ($100 million, €91.4 million or درهم367.3 million). Annual upkeep costs are said to be £801,000 million ($1 million, €914,000 million or درهم3.7 million).
1983 – Sold to Edmond Baysari for 5 million francs or the equivalent of £4.3 million ($5.4 million, €4.9 million or درهم19.7 million).
1949 – Declared an Historic Monument of France.
1939 – Sold after his death by Mr Allard’s daughters, Blanche Lasserre, Yvonne Arnodin and Jeanne Goirand, to Saint-Gobain, the Parisian glassmakers, for use as their company retreat.
April 1912 – Acquired for 700,050 francs (about £27,400 at that time) by Félix Allard, a “contractor for public works.” He modernised the château and added mains water, hot air heating, gas lighting and electricity and features including a large gallery area.
1760 – Purchased by Madame de Pompadour (1721 – 1764) for 1 million livres (about £75,000 at that time). She “sold some pearl bracelets to meet the first payment” and commissioned the architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel to build two new wings on either side of the two existing pavilions on the property. Sadly for her, she never saw it completed as she died from tuberculosis in 1764.
1728 to 1732 – Stanislas Leszcynski (1677 – 1766), the King of Poland, stayed at Château de Menars whilst in exile as a guest of the Charon family.
1669 – Jean-Jacques Charon (1643 – 1718), son of Jacques Charon, “added two unequal wings to the chateau and considerably enlarged the estate.”
1646 – Commencement of the construction of a castle on the site by one Jacques Charon. It “composed of a main building and two symmetrical pavilions.”