MEMENTO / Spot 02 - Doomed villas / GALERIE

The duo of Florent Théron (of Chiffre Huit fame, on the board) with Fred Schwal (behind the lens) is back, and the bearer of quite the diversity this time around, for the second chapter of their "MEMENTO". Indeed, if the entirety of the first was an homage to the defunct Stade du Rey in Nice, France, today, it is no less than three "spots" that the guys are here to present, after visiting them throughout the improvised plannings of their recent urbex peregrinations. So, on the menu: three abandoned homes, all with remarkable backstories, all of which Florent himself volunteered to cover, below!

"For this update on our "MEMENTO", we focused on stopping by at locations with some of the most sulphurous past history we could think of: that is, villas formerly owned by dictators, billionaires or just doomed by their scale altogether...

Skating them was the hardest part; how ruined most of them turned out to be, and their architecture in general really tried us. 

"We were told that
skateboarding there,
in the eyes of the law,
is equivalent to
skateboarding in Irak"

But still their history was worth paying them a visit, and disregarding their tragic pasts to reappropriate those settings; in spite of the apparent illegality, we wanted to demonstrate how those places could bear witness to more than their respective owners' atrocities.

The Irakian villa:

Two swimming pools, seven square kilometers of land, seperate housing for the homekeeper, a plethora of suites and game rooms - such is the resume of Saddam Hussein's brother's villa, illegally acquired back in 1982 through Swiss shell companies.

Formerly the local "Irakian embassy", eventually, this villa didn't stand the end of that government, nor its owner's execution on the charge of crimes against humanity.

So nowadays, it's Irakian property again, and under Irakian diplomacy. Somebody even told us that skateboarding there, in the eyes of the law, is equivalent to skateboarding in Irak...

So of course, we had to check it out. It turned out to be hard to skate, but we still managed to get a handful of tricks on a coffee table, in the middle of quite the messy living room; and also over the (lone) couch on the terrace, complete with full panorama of the sea.

The old billionaire's villa:

This one once belonged to the daughter of the richest arms trafficker in the world back in the eighties, who later ended up caught amidst the Sarkozy-Kadhafi scandal regarding the alleged Lybian financing in said French ex-president's campign funding. No, this is not the pitch of some "San-Antonio" styled novel, but really a villa that's been abandoned for years, then bought for 762 000 euros in the late nineties, and then sold again in 2009 for ten millions.

No capital gain or renovations to justify this, just a smart business move - and also quite the money laundrying operation; the current owner being, on paper, the Lybian dictator's right-hand man.
This villa is in ruins nowadays, too; so it was tough finding tricks to document there as well, what especially mattered to us being the history of the place. Still we managed to drop into the swimming pool, slaloming in between the broken tiles on the backyard's terrace, and shoot a 360 flip on the mezzanine of this gigantic house - the architecture of which comprises zero ninety-degree walls.
Florent Théron, ollie.
Florent Théron, ollie.

The doomed castle:

Now here's a construction which, due to the nature of its structure, really stands out along the Mediterranean coast, with its look of a fortress perched up there on the hills bordering the seaside.
This house, built in the late nineteenth century by the nephew of English poet "Sir" Alfred Tennyson, eventually underwent a history of tragic happenings long enough for the locals to dub it the "doomed castle".
It's looking enormous, and so do the projects its successive owners had for it, as none ever ended up materializing - in spite of how it was actually sold again just recently, for nearly ten millions of euros.
There are guards on duty... But they don't necessarily mind the occasional visit.

Despite its size, the space remains empty, and consumed by the passing ages.
It's close to habited homes, too, so in order to find and skate a spot, we had to be quick on our toes. We immediately went for this little manny pad thing - with run-up alongside a twenty-foot drop.

To this day, we're still rather frustrated about this one: the timing and circumstances didn't exactly allow us to pay it the full tribute it deserved..." - Florent Théron, Fred Schwal
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