Spain

Marbella Villas: Prince’s Old Villa in Spain Remains Unsold

It comes at a surprise when Marbella villas don’t sell well. A villa once owned by music legend Prince in a millionaires’ enclave near Marbella in southern Spain has yet to find a buyer after being on the market for two years.

The salmon-colored villa, overlooking the Mediterranean with its outdoor jacuzzi and two-level master bedroom suite, boasts a colonial-style double staircase with white marble balustrades sweeping down to a chandeliered entrance hall, and carries a price tag of 5.25 million euros ($5.91 million), according to real estate broker Engel & Volkers, which is marketing it. The late star, who bought the villa in 1998 as a wedding gift for his then wife, the dancer Mayte Garcia, sold it in 2006.

“The house is very glam, very luxurious, but also very flashy; it’s a bit outdated in that sense — the location isn’t perfect either,” said Olivia Valere, a nightclub owner who knew Prince when he vacationed in Marbella in the late 1990s and who dined at the house of the star. Valere, whose nightclub Prince would visit to play music, said, “I don’t think he was well advised on that deal — it’s not for the jet set.” This comes at no surprise for a Marbella villa.

The failure to find a buyer may show a shift in the taste for luxury homes and comes even as the market for high-end real estate in Marbella, and Spain generally, is on the rebound as the country’s economic fortunes improve and its sunny coasts retain their lure as a playground for the world’s wealthy. Buyers are gravitating toward more elegant homes in such exclusive areas of Marbella as Sierra Blanca or La Zagaleta, said Valere.

Marbella villas: El Paraiso

Prince’s former villa lies just west of Marbella in the hills of El Paraiso — a wealthy residential area that enjoys views of the mountains and a golf course designed by Gary Player as well as the Mediterranean sea, according to the Engel & Volkers sales pitch.

Prince, the artist behind hits including Sign o’ the Times and Purple Rain who died suddenly last week, wasn’t the most recent owner of the house which, according to Engel & Volkers was the “inspiring scenario for many of his beautiful songs.”

“The fact that it once belonged to Prince undoubtedly adds to the value of the
house,” Engel & Volkers said in an e-mailed statement. “The house is very special. It’s a type of construction and decoration that is not to everyone’s taste, but the owner is in no rush to sell and the price isn’t negotiable.” This Marbella villa is definitely something special!

Spanish house prices have fallen an average of 41 percent since the real estate market imploded in 2007, according to data from Tinsa, Spain’s largest property appraiser. Average prices in Spain rose 0.8 percent in March from the year-ago period, with prices in coastal areas jumping 4.3 percent, Tinsa data shows.

Marbella villas: No Cachet

Homes in the province of Malaga, where Marbella villas are situated, take about 9.1 months to sell compared with a national average of 10.5 months, according to Tinsa.

Prince loved Marbella in part because no one bothered him in a place so well-used to celebrities, said Valere. “I call Spain home now,” Prince told talk show host Larry King in a 1999 interview. “What I like most is that from 2 to 5, everything just shuts down. Everybody just chills, and they take a moment to just gather their senses.”

No expense was spared in building Prince’s former home with its three upstairs bedroom suites with marble bathrooms set in 6,000 square meters (1.5 acres) of landscaped gardens bordered by cypress trees and a boundary wall for maximum privacy. Engel and Volkers began marketing the property for the current owners in 2014.

“The reason why it’s been on the market so long may have more to do with investors’ tastes for more contemporary-style homes”, said Dario Fernandez, a director at the Marbella-based real estate broker Prime Invest.

“I don’t think the fact that Prince owned it once upon a time is going to give it any cachet or help sell,” he said. “The other problem is that it’s not in a prime area.” However, many Marbella villas are selling well, this one is just taking a little longer, that’s all.

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