Near the commune of La Rochepot France, on a weekend trip from Wanderlust’s base in Saint Jean de Losne to Autun we caught a quick glimpse over the shoulder of a large château topped with an eye-catching Burgundy-tile roof. Driving through Europe tends to be like this. There’s often an appealing distraction on the way to the chosen destination. It takes discipline to continue driving.
We didn’t stop on the way out. But when we caught a better view of the château, Château de La Rochepot, on the way back to the boat in Saint Jean we decided to check it out. For a fee we became part of the roughly 25,000 visitors the château receives each year.
Inside walls we learned that Château de La Rochepot is a 12th Century feudal castle, rebuilt in the 15th Century, and completely restored from ruins in the 19th Century. The now privately owned château’s past is not particularly interesting, as châteaux go. Recent history, on the other hand, is more entertaining.
It turns out Château de La Rochepot’s owner when we visited was most likely a high-profile Ukrainian fugitive. On October 5 2018 “the King of the Castle”, thought to be an Odessa-based businessman named Dmytro Malinovskiy, was arrested. Europol detained the château’s owner, who has been wanted by police in Ukraine since 2015. Malinovskiy reportedly had been enjoying a lavish lifestyle in France after faking his death in a car accident and fleeing Ukraine to escape charges in a complex case of international fraud and money laundering.
During the arrest the gendarmes also seized €4.6 million worth of jewels and property, including the château itself. The possessions confiscated included three unnamed pieces of art by Salvador Dali and a vintage Rolls Royce. For some reason, we didn’t get to see the art, or the car, during our visit.
We visited Château de la Rochepot in April of 2018. The château is about 50 minutes by car from Saint Jean de Losne.