A horrific discovery in the cellar of an abandoned French mansion has seen police open an investigation after new owners found a body while renovating the historical property.
In the basement of the building in Paris, which has been abandoned since the mid-18th century, a 30-year-old corpse was found, CNN reported.
After being purchased for AU$57 million at a January auction, the male body was located on February 26, sparking a preliminary murder investigation to be opened.
“They found him in a place that had not been visited either by the bailiff who had made the report or by anyone else. No one had visited the cellar,” Bruno Picard, a lawyer in charge of the house's auction, told CNN.
The identity of the man has been confirmed as a homeless alcoholic named Jean-Pierre Renaud, who police said was found with broken bones and knife cuts to his body, The Sun reported.
“He was someone of no fixed abode, with a drink problem. We could imagine a fight with someone else living on the margin. It was a bit of a squat at the time,” a police source told Le Monde.
“But it’s unclear whether he died in the mansion or was brought there, and we may never find out who was responsible. It’s quite possible the murderer is himself now dead.”
Mr Picard said he directed police to his website where he had disclosed all the information he had about the discovery of the dead man.
“Apparently he had been there for 30 years. It won't have much impact on the rest of this case. Given the time frame... I think the owner is about to start work,” he said.
The home is located in the exclusive 7th district area, with its mammoth size and central location making it particularly unique.
According to an association dedicated to preserving the neighbourhood, the building has significant historical importance, having once been home to famous poet François Coppée.
Among the property’s exceptional features is a sprawling interior courtyard and huge private gardens.
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