The Design Miami Paris fair settles in a mansion in the capital belonging to Ali Bongo

The mansion located at 51 rue de l'Université (Paris 7th), owned by Gabonese President Ali Bongo, will host the Design Miami Paris fair, from October 17 to 22.

After a false start in 2022, where, for security reasons, the Design Miami Paris fair was unable to pitch its tent at Place de la Concorde, its director, Jennifer Roberts, can be reassured. The design and decorative arts fair, of which she also directs the versions in Miami and Basel, will take place from October 17 to 22, in parallel with Paris +, the outgrowth of the Swiss giant Art Basel which replaced the FIAC in Grand Palais ephemeral.

Aware of the fallout from a show that promises to attract major decorators and silver collectors to the capital, the cabinet of the mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo offered him several locations, including near the Hôtel de Ville. But each time, the occupation of municipal sites proved costly and complicated.

The situation is unblocked in May, when a hunter of exceptional spaces offers him a splendid private setting at 51 rue de l’Université. “One of the five most beautiful buildings in Paris with the Elysée and the Hôtel Lambert”raves design gallery owner Didier Krzentowski.

Read also: The Paris prefecture bans a major design fair at Place de la Concorde

Since its construction in 1706 by the architect Pierre Cailleteau dit Lassurance, this mansion has changed owners several times. 18th century enthusiastse century associate him with the Marquis de Maisons and Soyécourt. The friends of the elite rather summon the ghosts of the Pozzo di Borgo, a large Corsican family who settled there from 1840 to 2010, and one of whose heirs, Philippe Pozzo di Borgo, died on 1er June, inspired the story of the hit movie Untouchables.

In the sights of anti-corruption magistrates

Celebrity buffs like to recall that fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld was a prestigious tenant, organizing Paloma Picasso’s sumptuous wedding dinner in 1978 with director Rafael Lopez-Cambil. This was before the private mansion was regularly rented, in the early 2000s, for parades and social events.

French anti-corruption magistrates who, since 2007, have been tracking the luxurious real estate held in France by former Gabonese President Omar Bongo (1935-2009), accused by NGOs of having laundered sums embezzled in Gabon, have it in their viewfinder: the splendid building was acquired in 2010 by his son, Ali Bongo, President of the Republic of Gabon since 2009, for 100 million euros. The building, which belongs to the French real estate civil society Valnco’s main shareholder is the Gabonese State, which has undertaken major works there.

The building has finally been regularly coveted by the country’s creditors, who, for ten years, have multiplied pledging operations, according to the Africa Intelligence site, before being invaded one night in January 2018 by around thirty Gabonese opponents.

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