The corpse of a homeless man – presumably stabbed to death thirty years ago – was found by renovators in the basement of a Paris mansion.
Police have launched a murder investigation following the discovery of the £ 30 million house, which was recently purchased after having been vacant since the 1980s.
Identity papers show the victim was Jean-Pierre Renaud, a drifter with a drinking problem, although detectives fear it is impossible to track down his killer – with the body left with broken bones and stab wounds.
The mansion, in chic Faubourg Saint-Germain and once occupied by playwright and poet François Coppée, was sold to investment banker Jean-Bernard Lofonta in January after a bidding war.
It is supposed to be transformed into offices for an international company.
Technicians were tasked with refurbishing the 17,000-square-foot building the following month – discovering Mr. Renaud’s remains after moving planks and debris in a basement, reports Le Monde.
His children have been informed, police said.
Sabine Lebreton, who leads a group dedicated to home preservation, said Le Parisien “Everyone was devastated” to hear of the tragic discovery.
She explained that prior to the coronavirus blockade, the renovation work went well with regular truckloads of debris being cleared before “suddenly everything stopped.”
A police source told Le Monde that Mr. Renaud “had no permanent residence, with a drinking problem”.
“We could imagine a fight with someone else living on the fringes … But it’s unclear if he died in the mansion or was taken there, and we may never find out who was responsible,” they continued.
“It is quite possible that the murderer himself is dead now.”
Restoration work is expected to resume after the summer.
The manor is located just a few minutes from the residence of the French Prime Minister.
It was marketed at the beginning of the year by the Dutch owners who billed it as “the last truly significant property in the most desirable area of the capital”.
The auction lasted 15 minutes and the new owner paid six times the reserve price.