Crowdfunding saves crumbling French chateau

An aerial view of the 19th-century chateau de La Mothe-Chandeniers, which is now owned by around 25,000 people from 115 countries through a crowndfunding aimed to buy and restore the structure. (AFP)
Updated 27 December 2017
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Crowdfunding saves crumbling French chateau

POITIERS, France: It’s a modern story of an ancient fairytale castle: a crowdfunding effort online has raised €1.6 million (SR7.12 million) to restore a chateau in western France.
Around 25,000 people from 115 countries have become shareholders in the chateau de La Mothe-Chandeniers which has turrets, a moat and an elderly owner who had not maintained it.
The 19th-century building has fallen into disrepair with trees and vegetation sprouting out of its roof and windows, raising fears that it might be knocked down and redeveloped by property developers.
Thanks to a joint effort by online fundraising site Dartagnans.fr and a local association Adopte un Chateau (Adopt a Chateau), sufficient money has been raised to buy and restore the structure.
“It’s a record in France and probably in Europe in terms of the amount raised and the number of contributors,” the head of Dartagnans, Romain Delaume, said on Tuesday.
The website offered buyers the chance to become shareholders in the castle at the cost of €51: €50 as a donation for the restoration work and one euro to buy a share in a joint company set up to manage the site.
Organizers initially hoped for around 10,000 people, but thanks partly to reports in the French media the final number of donors came in at just under 19,000.
Many of them bought shareholdings for friends and family as presents, meaning that the total number of owners of the chateau will be around 25,000.
Most of them are from France, but people from as far afield as Afghanistan, Burkina Faso and Peru now have a small slice of history in the French countryside near the wine-growing Loire valley.
“Bravo for this initiative both collective and private,” wrote the aristocratic speaker of France’s parliament, Francois de Rugy, on Twitter. “France’s historic buildings need a diverse range of ideas to be saved and developed.”
The current chateau de La Mothe-Chandeniers dates back to the 19th century but the site has been home to a castle since at least the 13th century.
It was pillaged after the French Revolution in 1789 and heavily damaged in a fire in 1932 before being bought by its current owner, an 82-year-old local man, in 1982.
A thorough survey will be undertaken in the next few weeks to check the scale of the damage to the structure and the site will then be secured pending the start of restoration work.
Various ideas have been floated for the future from turning it into a “collaborative and creative laboratory,” somewhere for artists to work, or a bed-and-breakfast holiday destination.
Getting all the shareholders to agree might be a challenge.
They will be invited for a visit “as soon as possible in 2018,” said Delaume, and will be asked to take part in the restoration work.
He also stressed that not all of the building can be returned to its former glory because a complete overhaul has been estimated to cost at least €3 million.
Another round of fundraising in the future has not been excluded.


Ronaldo bust swapped at Madeira airport

Updated 18 June 2018
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Ronaldo bust swapped at Madeira airport

LISBON: The controversial bronze bust of Cristiano Ronaldo at the airport on Madeira which bears his name has been replaced, Portuguese media reported on Monday.
“This bust is much better than the other one, that’s what everyone thinks,” Hugo Aveiro, brother of the five-time Ballon d’or, winner, told the Diario de Noticias da Madeira newspaper.
“A Spanish sculptor offered this new bust ... so good that we decided to change it,” he added.
The original was swapped Friday at the request of the Real Madrid superstar’s entourage, according to local media.
The original, by local artist Emanuel Santos, was unveiled 16 months ago at a ceremony to rename the airport after one of Madeira’s most famous sons, CR7 having been born in the capital Funchal.
But it was widely mocked, not least for its grimacing smile.
“The CR7 museum asked us to replace the bust in tribute to the athlete and we felt we ought to change it,” airport director Duarte Ferreira explained.
The Ronaldo museum opened in 2013 and a year later it unveiled a 3.40 meters (10 feet) statue which also caused some mirth owing to its figure-hugging shorts.
While his home island concentrates on his likenesses the real Ronaldo is busy at the World Cup. He notched a hat trick to earn a point against Spain a few hours after the airport bust was exchanged.