The 'Villa Windsor' is a mansion located 4 Route du Champ d'Entraînement, Paris, within the Bois de Boulogne close to Neuilly-sur-Seine. The house is owned by the city of Paris and was the Paris home of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
The Villa Windsor (originally named Chateau Le Bois) is a graceful 19th-century building of 14 rooms surrounded by a large tree-filled garden. It was built around 1860 and once owned by the Renault family but the French government sequestered the property after World War II and Charles de Gaulle occupied the house in the late 1940's.
Home of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor
The villa was leased to the Windsors by the city of Paris at a nominal rent from 1952 to 1986. Maison Jansen, the Paris decorating concern, redid the home under the supervision of the Duchess. The Duke and Duchess both died in the house, in 1972 and 1986 respectively.
The Windsors also occupied the Moulin de la Tuilerie, in open countryside to the south west of Paris, where they spent most weekends and summer vacations.
When Wallis died in 1986, the house was returned to the city of Paris. Later that year, the London-based Egyptian business man Mohamed Al-Fayed, owner of Harrods, signed a fifty-year lease on the villa.
The rent was one million francs a year, subject to the condition that he spend thirty million francs renovating the house.
Mohamed Al-Fayed extensively refurbished and restored the 'Villa Windsor', and for his efforts was promoted to an Officier in the Légion d'honneur in 1989.
Sale of the Windsors' estate
In July 1997, Al-Fayed announced that an auction of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor's possessions from the Villa Windsor would take place later that year in New York. He had bought the contents of the property for the equivalent of US$4.5 million from the principal beneficiary of the Duchess's estate, the Pasteur Institute. The items to be offered for sale had personal value for the royal family and included the desk at which Edward had abdicated in 1936, a collection of some ten thousand photographs, and a doll given to Edward by his mother, Queen Mary.
Following the deaths of Al-Fayed's son Dodi and Diana, Princess of Wales, the auction was postponed, but it eventually took place in February 1998 at Sotheby's New York, with more than 40,000 items for sale, divided into 3,200 lots. The proceeds from the auction went to the Dodi Fayed International Charitable Foundation and causes associated with the late Princess of Wales. Members of the British royal family were believed to have purchased items in the sale.
- Location on Google Maps
- Lichfield, John (2010-03-25). "In Wallis's footsteps: The holiday home by royal appointment". The Independent. Retrieved 2012-04-27.
- Bower, Tom (1998). Fayed: The Unauthorized Biography. Macmillan. p. 188. ISBN 9780333745540.
- Tina Brown (1 September 2011). The Diana Chronicles. Random House. pp. 12–. ISBN 978-0-09-956835-3. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- Sengupta, Kim (1998-02-11). "How the Windsor sale will aid Dodi's charities". The Independent. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
- Hardy, James (1998-02-22). "Queen bids for Duke of Windsor heirlooms". The Daily Telegraph.