The ins and outs of the deal that sees a Lisbon palace of “exceptional public interest” sold for €12 million to the Shia Muslim order of the Ismaili Imamat appears shrouded in uncertainty in Portuguese media.
Diário de Notícias claims it cannot establish why the building – last year valued at between €13-€14 million – has been effectively sold for a million euros less, nor why the Universidade Nova has decided to get rid of it.
The paper also queries what led the order headed up by the Aga Khan – otherwise known as British business magnate, racehorse owner and breeder Prince Shah Karim Al Husseini – to buy it.
What does seem certain is that another €6 million will be ploughed into the stunning property to rehabilitate it – and that the job will be given to a Portuguese firm of architects.
Which firm, again “is not yet known, nor is it likely to be revealed”, says DN – adding that it is also not clear what will happen to the cultural treasures currently housed within it.
But what does seem likely is that the Henrique Mendonça palacete is to become the Aga Khan’s official residence.
Less than a year ago, the former government signed an agreement with the famous Imam to establish the global headquarters of his order in Portugal (click here).
At the time, Portuguese media made much of the fact that competition for the deal had been tough, with Canada also vying for the chance of housing an institution that spends hundreds of millions every year on humanitarian initiatives.