The spectacular Villa Bromar, the gem of early twentieth architecture sitting next to the Tourism Office in the heart of Monte-Carlo, is at the centre of a major controversy. It is also the subject of an investigation by the Monaco Public Prosecutor.

The building was bought by the Marzocco Group from the Hector Otto Foundation in 2005 for 22 million euros. According to some reports, it was sold less than three years later for 93.5 million to a Russian oligarch.

French newspaper Le Parisien has asked the question: “How can we explain that in such a short period of time the villa has seen its price quadruple?”

The Marzocco Group was swift to respond to the Le Parisien article, stating: “The Marzocco Group denies and strongly denounces the slanderous insinuations conveyed by the Parisian article and reserves the right to take legal action.”

Meanwhile, Claude Palmero, who was president of the Foundation at the time of the original sale, told local French-language daily Monaco Matin that the entire sales process was clear and transparent:

“Before the sale by the Hector-Otto Foundation of the Villa Bromar which it had inherited a few years previously, the Foundation requested an appraisal and the property was estimated between 18 and 20 million euros given the market situation in the period and the colossal renovations to be carried out A call for tenders was initiated by the Foundation for the sale of this property and several potential buyers came forward at the end of 2004 at the beginning of 2005.

“In February 2005, and after receiving and studied four proposals, the Board of Directors of the Foundation obviously decided to accept the highest proposal. This decision was taken unanimously by the Board of Directors of the Foundation, which included high-ranking Monegasque personalities with perfect knowledge of the real estate market. In accordance with Monegasque law, the sale was authorised by a Sovereign Ordinance having been the subject of a publication in the Official Gazette of the Principality, after notice of approval of the Council of State, consultation of the Monegasque Commission for the Supervision of Foundations, approval of the disposal project by the government adviser for the Interior, and finally after the agreement of the government which had also studied the file in depth.”

The Monaco Statistical Office, IMSEE notes that the average price per square metre in Monaco almost doubled between 2006 and 2008, increasing from 14,784 euros to 28,171 euros.

The Marzocco Group built the Odeon Tower, Monaco’s largest building, starting construction in 2009.