Crowdfunding Buys a Château in France


A total of 27,190 people from 115 different countries around the world have banded together to buy a French château, with the hope of restoring it in the near future.

Called the Château de Mothe-Chandeniers, it is located in the Loire region of the country and is about 1,000 sq m. It was last inhabited around 1932, when a fire caused it to be abandoned.

But while humanity has mostly left it alone, nature has moved in instead. The building is now overgrown with plants, which fill the courtyard and come out of the windows. To the building's admirers, this is its greatest feature—images of the chateau have made it famous on the internet, and aficionados of abandoned buildings have often come to have a look up close.

It was this popularity that led to its current situation and many owners. The organizations Dartagans and Adopte un Château, both of which are dedicated to the preservation of French heritage, came up with the idea of a crowdfunding effort to preserve the building.

Each share of the property was sold for 50 euros, and with its 27,000+ buyers, they managed to make 1.6 million euros, which is 900,000 euros beyond what the previous owner was asking for. The extra money will be used for the preservation effort, according to Adopte un Château's leader, Julien Macquis, who is also one of the new co-owners.

He will also be the manager of the property, which will not be an easy task, given how many people he has to share it with. The idea is to put big decisions to a vote, with a simple majority ruling; smaller issues will be handled by a board of directors.

Many people bought multiple shares; for example, one of the participants, Dominique Saurais, says that he bought one for himself and then one each as a Christmas present for his wife and son. Portions were also given free to President Emmanuel Macron and his wife.

The goal is to begin work on the building in the autumn, to preserve it while also incorporating its verdant elements; it will hopefully be ready for visitors by summer 2019, and Marquis hopes that this will stimulate the local economy. Beyond that, the idea is to then repeat this process with another castle. There are between 30,000 to 40,000 in France, and an estimated 600 are at risk, he says.

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