The Government suffered a serious financial blow on Thursday when the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Antonio Caroli and his Caroli Immo company over the cancellation of his real estate project planned for the Esplanade des Pêcheurs.

The futuristic project had been given planning consent in 2015 and was due to see the light of day by 2021. However, after objections from the Automobile Club – which claimed that it would have a detrimental effect on the organisation of the Monaco Grand Prix, the development was cancelled by the state.

Caroli Immo had originally claimed 800 million euros, to which was added 180 million euros claimed by by Franck Goddio, the founding president of the European Institute of Underwater Archeology, which planned to build one of two museums planned as part of the development, the Centre for Man and the Sea.

The Supreme Court has awarded Caroli Immo 136.9 million euros, plus interest since the case was first filed, in 2018, taking the total to close to 150 million euros. The decision is final and cannot be overturned.

The project would have dominated Port Hercule, containing 52 high-end apartments, two museums and parking for 250 cars. The projected building cost was 300 million euros. The lawyer acting for Caroli, Me François-Henri Briard, said after the court’s decision was announced that it was honourable, even if it did not meet his clients demands. “It is an indemnity which compensates for the damage caused,” he said.

Mr Caroli owns Monaco Hebdo, the well-respected Monaco weekly news magazine.

PHOTO: An artist’s impression of the planned project on Port Hercule Caroli Immo