Historic Czech stately home gets new owner following quick sale

A stately home on the edge of Prague has been snapped up for just under a quarter of a billion crowns. The new owner of the well preserved Baroque Koloděje landmark will be getting not just a luxury property and grounds but also an interesting slice of Czech history. We look at the individual property and top of the range real estate market.

The baroque Koloděje chateau is perhaps one of the best known stately homes in the Czech Republic. From the mid-1950’s it was used by the Czechoslovak and then Czech governments for regular as well as ceremonial meetings, becoming a backdrop for the arrival of VIP motorcades and official handshakes.

But the government reluctantly gave up the chateau at the start of 2009 after losing a restitution battle with its former owners.

Koloděje Chateau, photo: CzechTourismKoloděje Chateau, photo: CzechTourism The winner of that long battle, Vítězslav Kumpera, has now sold it on for a reported price of 233 million crowns, around 12 million US dollars, to a Czech registered company about which little is known.

His grandfather, Antonín Kumpera, bought the property in 1937 when he was director of the Walter Motor company. But the family was evicted after the Second World War on the basis of the so-called Beneš decrees after being accused of sympathisising with the Nazi occupiers. A Czech court ruled in 2008 that the confiscation was illegal.

The chateau was used by the Communist secret police for training and for interrogating prisoners, including Communist victims of purges, in the early 1950’s. Those unhappy visitors included Otto Šling and Gustáv Husák, who later replaced Alexandr Dubček as Communist party leader before become Czechoslovak president.

choice confirmed by his successors.

If Koloděje is now in Czech hands, it will be part of a growing trend according to Jaroslav Žiška, sales director with top of the market real estate company Svoboda and Williams. It currently has a series of chateaux on its books seeking buyers.

Mr Žiška says there has been a turn around since 2004 when most of the buyers of Czech stately homes and castles were foreigners.

“When we became a member of the European Union the proportion of buyers was 80 percent foreigners and 20 percent Czechs. It changed to around 50-50 in around 2007. But today it is completely turned around with 80 percent of the buyers Czechs and 20 percent foreigners. And most of those foreigners are either expatriates or are in some way connected with the Czech Republic.”

Whatever the trend among buyers, the overall market for such pricey properties has stagnated as a result of the economic crisis. But for those that lost out on the Koloděje purchase, the good news is that there are still hundreds of other Czech stately homes and castles seeking a new owner.