published: 17.10.2012, 15:46 | updated: 17.10.2012 15:56:29
Prague - Dagmar Havlova, the sister-in-law of the late Czech president Vaclav Havel, definitively owns the whole Lucerna Palace in Prague, the appeals High Court in Prague decided.
It upheld the April verdict of the City Court deciding that the Chemapol Reality (C.H.R.) company sold its half of the palace to Havlova, who had owned the other half already, for a usual price and that the half of the real estate was not part of the company´s bankruptcy proceedings.
The Lucerna Palace, a complex housing music clubs, shops, a cinema, restaurants and galleries just off Prague's Wenceslas Square in the city centre, was built by Havel's grandfather between 1907 and 1921.
The palace, confiscated from the Havel family by the Communist regime, was returned to then president Vaclav Havel and his brother Ivan in restitution proceedings in 1992.
Ivan gave his half to his wife Dagmar who wanted to buy another half from her brother-in-law. However, Vaclav Havel did not make an agreement with her and sold his half to the C.H.R. company for 200 million crowns in 1997.
Two years later, this company, which ended up in financial difficulties and in the end went bankrupt, sold its part of Lucerna to Havlova for 145 million crowns.
However, the bankruptcy administrator complained against the sale, saying the 55-million discount was unsubstantiated and that the company sold the real estate in the situation where it had very limited decision-making possibilities.
The Slovak Tatra bank filed a bankruptcy petition on the C.H.R. in 1999 and Havlova bought the company's debts from its creditors for 230 million crowns for which she took a bank loan.
She paid 30 million crowns for the other half of Lucerna in cash and used claims for another 115 million crowns. She allegedly forgave the rest of the company's debt.
However, the bankruptcy administrator challenged the transaction and included the half of Lucerna in bankruptcy proceedings despite the sale. Havlova therefore brought a suit against the administrator.
The City Court eventually decided in favour of Havlova. It based the verdict on the Tacoma institute´s expert opinion that put the market value of a half of the Lucerna palace at some 137 million crowns in 1999.
Czech courts have dealt with the dispute for several years. The City Court ruled to the detriment of Havlova twice, but the appeals court always annulled the verdict and returned the case for reappraisal.
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