The Qatar Embassy in Austria has bought a striking neoclassical palace in the center of Vienna from France, the French mission in Vienna has confirmed.
The Palais Clam Gallas was sold “some days ago” to Qatar for an undisclosed sum, a spokesperson for the French Embassy in Austria told Doha News.
Newswire AFP quotes media reports of a €30 million price tag for the sale, although the French Embassy would not confirm this.
A spokesperson at Qatar’s Austrian embassy in Vienna declined to comment, referring questions to the country’s sovereign wealth fund.
The palace, which was built around 1834 as a summer residence for Prince Franz Joseph von Dietrichstein, was acquired by the French government in 1951.
It has been home to the Institut Francais (French Institute) since 1981. The Lycee Francais is a part of the surrounding 11 acres of grounds, which were originally laid out as an English garden.
The French will remain in the building until next summer, when they will move to new premises in the city, the embassy spokesperson said. The move comes amid cost-saving efforts, according to AFP.
“The Qatar Embassy, the building’s new owner, has committed to restore it to its former splendor. They are fully renovating it using Austrian companies known for their restoration expertise ” the French Embassy said in a statement in French confirming the sale.
It remains unclear what Qatar will use the building for. A spokesperson for the French mission could not confirm it will become the location of a new embassy for the Gulf state in Vienna.
If the palace does become home to Qatar’s new mission, it would not be the first time that the government has acquired a prestigious building in Europe for that purpose.
For example, the Qatar embassy in Paris is located across from a popular tourist hotspot, on the western end of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, overlooking the Arc de Triomphe.