Ahae buys small village in France for $663,000

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Ahae buys small village in France for $663,000

LIMOGES, France - A ghost-hamlet in rural France that became a global media sensation for failing to find a buyer was auctioned off on Monday to Korean artist Ahae for 520,000 euros ($663,000).

The Asian artist beat competition during bidding from Dutch reality TV giant Endemol that wanted to shoot a series in the hamlet and a Belgian company that wanted to create a center for housing the handicapped.

The deserted hamlet near the center-west city of Limoges is classified as a historic monument, perched on a hilltop at an altitude of 557 meters (1,800 feet) and offering 360-degree views over the surrounding countryside.

Bernard Guilhem, the deputy mayor of the commune which includes the 150 people who live in the surrounding countryside, said that the auction had become a “fairytale” for locals after global media picked up the story.

Guilhem said that once the hamlet appeared on satellite news channels, investors began arriving from Asia, the Middle East and North America, some by private jet.

Other potential buyers wanted to know if it was possible to build a heliport on the site, while locals hope that the new owner will create some jobs in the largely agricultural region.

Photographer Ahae, whose latest exhibition of pictures of the French countryside shot from a window opens in Paris on June 26, bought the hamlet through the intermediary of his company Ahae Press, Inc.

An Ahae representative said that artist’s plan for the hamlet would be “environmental, artistic and cultural.” Ahae’s Web site says he seeks places where he can put into practice “concepts of an organic lifestyle .?.?. to allow nature to develop as it should, without the interference of man or human activities.”

The site was bought for over 700,000 euros by a developer in 2003 who wanted to build a holiday complex.

AFP

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