Tycoon Abramovich Buys World's Most Expensive House at $500M

Chelsea soccer club owner buys villa on French Riviera in honor of upcoming marriage to model Daria Zhukova.

Russian billionaire and owner of the Chelsea football club, Roman Abramovich, has purchased the world's most expensive house, worth $500 million, British newspapers reported on Thursday.

Abramovich, 41, bought the La Leopolda villa on the French Riviera in honor of his upcoming marriage to model Daria Zhukova, 25.

The tycoon, who lives in Britain, already owns several impressive properties, including the nearby Chateaux de la Croe estate, as well as others in the exclusive London neighborhood of Knightsbridge, Sussex and in Russia.

Former owners of the La Leopolda include Microsoft guru Bill Gates and Fiat mogul Gianni Agnelli.

Abramovich and Zhukova decided to buy the villa after being granted a private viewing. The property is located in the village of Villefranche, near Monte Carlo, sprawling over 40 dunams.

The estate was built by King Leopold of Belgium as a present for his mistresss. In 1952, Agnielli purchased it for $100,000 and in the 1980s offered to sell it to Lily Safra, wife of renowned banker Edmund Safra, for $3 million.

She refused the offer on the grounds that she did not want to support the 50 gardeners required for maintaining the grounds. Edmund Safra finally agreed to buy the villa in 1999, just a few months before he died in a fire in Monte Carlo home.

In 2006, Safra's widow Lily sold the estate to Bill Gates, at the time the world's wealthiest man.