It seems that Russia's new richest man, Mikhail Prokhorov, may not have been telling the whole truth when he denied buying the world's most expensive house, the $750 million Villa Leopolda (above) on the French Riviera, last year. Back in August we reported that the metals magnate was the mysterious purchaser of the eye-popping property, but Prokhorov, who's worth $14.1 billion, protested his innocence, saying he declined to do business in France because of a mix-up with some prostitutes and the French police. Now the London Times reports that Prokhorov signed a contract on the property and paid a $55 million deposit, but wants to back out of the deal.
Prokhorov reportedly lost $7 billion in the economic crisis but has fared better than fellow oligarch Roman Abramovich. Prokhorov will likely face a legal battle over the deposit, which is non-refundable under French law, with the Villa's seller Lily Safra. "Lily is adamant that she's not handing the deposit back," a source close to the deal tells the London Daily Mail. "Mr. Prokhorov, in turn, claims that property prices have collapsed since August, and the figures originally discussed were unreasonable. He wants out, and he wants his money back." We expect Prokhorov, founder of a new magazine for snobs, will likely issue another denial this time as well.