Ukraine war: War no obstacle for Russia’s super-rich: Summer vacations in Dubai and Turkey, instead of the French Riviera | International
, 2022-07-11 10:17:00,
Russian elites have always had a soft spot for the French Riviera or Côte d’Azur. After the Russian Revolution, Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich, a cousin of Nicholas II, Russia’s last tsar, fled to Villa Marizzina – a palace on a precipice in Cap-d’Ail – with his mistress, the famous ballerina Mathilde Kschessinska. Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, another cousin of Nicholas II and one of the architects of Rasputin’s assassination in 1916, also chose the French Riviera to live out his love story in exile with another celebrity of the time, Coco Chanel. With the fall of the Soviet Union, Russians returned to the Mediterranean coast, landing at Cap d’Antibes and Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. The nouveaux riches of Moscow and St. Petersburg bought up the old mansions, turning the area into their summer playground.
But this year the oligarchs will have a harder time vacationing in their villas and sailing their luxury yachts through the French Mediterranean. European airspace is technically closed to them, visas are hard to come by and their credit cards are blocked as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The French government has frozen more than €500 million in properties, including around 30 mansions in the Cap d’Antibes area, such as the Château de la Croë, the castle owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich (formerly the residence of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor); Villa Hier, which is owned by oil trader Suleyman Kerimov; Villa Altaïr, home of Andrey Melnichenko, the king of commodities; and Villa Nellcôte, the belle époque home of iron and steel tycoon Viktor Rashnikov.
Many Russian magnates also used to stay at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc. Built in 1870 by Alexey Plastcheef, a former captain in the Russian Imperial Guard, it is one of the most luxurious hotels in Cap d’Antibes and a favorite among the rich and famous. This summer, Russia’s wealthy elite have not arrived, and are not expected to. “In recent years, we used to receive 8% of guests from Russia. That was until 2020. With the Covid pandemic, the Russian market began to slow down,” explains Valerie Muller, the hotel’s communication manager. “In fact, this season we do not have reservations from Russia or Ukraine, which is understandable given the situation. However, these markets have been replaced by visitors of other nationalities, and all our rooms are booked for the summer season,” she adds.
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