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Finance tycoon breathed new life into Pablo Picasso’s beloved villa

Nadja Beschetnikova
April 5, 2018

The French Riviera has been always a place of attraction for the bohemian society. The Mediterranean climate is perfect, the scenery is enchanting, and the villages and towns breathe charm and savoir vivre. This is a place in Europe where one goes to enjoy themselves. And for the lucky few, the French Rivera is home.

Previously residing in Paris, Picasso decided to move to the Cote d’Azur following a visit to fellow artist, Louis Fort, who lived in Golfe-Juan. Falling in love with the coastline between Antibes and Cannes, Picasso liked to spend his time strolling along the beach. Having moved to the French Riviera, according to a number of connoisseurs of Picasso's creativity, the artist finally found peace and devoted himself to creating portraits.

The antique French country home, nestled within eight acres of opulent gardens, olive trees, and an authentic orangery, was purchased by the painter and his wife in 1961.

Overlooking the Bay of Cannes and offering spectacular views of the Esterel massif and the Mediterranean Sea, the 18th century converted farmhouse previously belonged to the Guinness brewing family. It sits just below the old chapel of Notre-Dame de Vie in Mougins.

Mougins has attracted art, design and music figures including Man Ray, Jean Cocteau, Yves Klein, César Baldaccini, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Édith Piaf and Jacques Brel over the years.

The artist spent in Mas de Notre Dame de Vie the last 12 years of his life, and made a lot of efforts to create a unique architecture of housing.
Originally, the estate had 24 rooms, but the legendary artist extended several areas of the house to turn it into his dream home, including building a large studio with a terrace in the main building. 

Jacqueline Roque, Picasso’s wife, kept everything exactly how it was before Picasso’s death. His reading glasses were even found where the pioneer of Cubism had apparently left them. But following her death in 1986, the estate sat vacant and in ruins for 30 years. In 2017, the estate was auctioned following a two-year restoration venture led by famed inside architect Axel Vervoordt (he recently restored the legendary Hotel Bayerischer Hof in Munich).

Approximately 100 people labored for two years during the restoration process. The villa has been tastefully and sympathetically renovated to the highest standard. The best materials and technologies were used, for example: the most modern automation, safety, heating and cooling systems.

A New Zealand financier Rayo Withanage has bought the artist’s mansion for $24 million. He purchased the property from Tom Moeskops, a Dutch real-estate investor, who got into financial difficulty and was forced to sell it.

According to the estate agent, from Picasso’s period, the only original room that is left is his studio. But, speaking of artist’s home, it’s probably the most important and valuable place, you want to see in the original condition. Besides, the 15-bedroom estate considers one of the most spectacular and famous houses on the Côte d’Azur. 

The estate has access from two sides, via camera secured gates. The entrance on the ground floor leads to a spacious hall and a large yet comfortable lounge, a breakfast room, studio and gallery.

The main building is surrounded by eight acres of landscaped grounds and a sprawling backyard restored to Picasso’s authentic designs from the 1960s.

The villa boasts a professional tennis court, an infinity pool, and a 350-square-metre pool home outfitted with a kitchen, health centre, spa, steam tub, therapeutic massage rooms, showers and laundry services.

The master bedroom, located on the first floor, has impressive views of the surrounding area, a dressing room, and luxurious bathroom.

There are four more large bedrooms, each with en-suite dressing rooms and bathrooms, as well as five separate guest apartments in the grounds, three with their own living room. In total there are 15 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms.

At the lower garden level, there is a second living room with attractive fireplace, adjoining a spectacular garden room with arched doors leading onto the terrace, and a professional kitchen with top-range appliances, a utility, prepping kitchen, two cold storage areas, and a climatized wine cellar for 5,000 bottles.

All floors can be reached with a lift or a monumental stone spiral staircase. In addition, there is also a guest house of 250 square metres and a caretaker’s quarters of 120 square metres.