Berlusconi ‘selling £350m holiday villa to Saudi royal family’
Silvio Berlusconi reportedly gave Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef a personal tour of the spectacular Villa Certosa last week
Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s former prime minister, is reportedly considering a £350 million offer from the Saudi royal family to buy his sprawling holiday home on Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda.
The 78-year-old billionaire media mogul reportedly gave a personal tour of the spectacular Villa Certosa last week to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the kingdom’s interior minister and first in line to the throne.
Italian media speculated over the weekend that Mr bin Nayef may be negotiating on behalf of King Salman, Saudi Arabia’s leader.
Photo: LaPresse/Empics Entertainment
The 168-acre holiday estate includes 68 rooms, six swimming pools, a huge park and an artificial volcano to entertain guests, some of whom have been snapped by paparazzi frolicking naked and semi-naked on the grounds – most memorably the former Czech prime minister in 2009.
Perhaps the most famous attraction at Villa Certosa is the James Bond-style private grotto, which includes a sea-God mosaic that leads directly to the sea via a secret underground tunnel.
Mr Berlusconi said he built the tunnel as an escape route after receiving multiple death threats. His high profile guests, who have in the past included former Prime Minister Tony Blair and Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, can also use the tunnel to arrive discretely by sea.
Previous potential buyers have reportedly included wealthy Britons, Russians and Arabs, but Mr Berlusconi never closed a deal.
According to the Corriere della Sera, negotiations with the Saudi royal family intensified after King Salman cut short his holiday on the French Riviera, following protests over the closure of a nearby public beach due to security concerns.
Villa Certosa already has an impressive security apparatus. In 2004, by government decree, the residence was declared an alternative maximum security headquarters for Mr Berlusconi, who was then the country’s leader.