Ukrainian magnate Victor Pinchuk throws a £4.3m party at Courchevel

Updated: 19 Dec 2010
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They have only just launched a campaign to banish its image as a winter playground for the world's rich and famous.

But the best laid plans of officials at ski resort Courchevel have been scuppered by a Ukrainian billionaire and his £4.3 million birthday budget.

Metal Magnate Victor Pinchuk, who also owns a media empire including six television stations and three newspapers, has rented 2,000 sq metres of land where an army of staff is constructing a massive marquee for tonight's extravaganza.


Millionaire's wonderland: Courchevel has 11 five-star hotels, 26 chalets and restaurants that boast more Michelin stars per head than anywhere in the world
 
And with friends including Sirs Elton John and Paul McCartney, he and his wife Elena certainly know how to throw a party.

The lavish do's 300 guests from around the world will enjoy a private show from celebrated Canadian performing arts troupe Cirque de Soleil as well as an haute cuisine buffet prepared by the master of French gastronomy, Alain Ducasse.

Mr Ducasse is famed for having the most Michelin-starred restaurants around the world.

It will end with a huge firework display and rumours are already circulating that Burlesque-star Christina Aguilera will fly in to perform as a guest of honour.

But the timing of the event will not be to everybody's liking. 
 
Lavish party: Millionaire Victor Pinchuk and his wife Elena at the Elton John AIDS Foundation's party this October

Resort officials have recently begun a campaign to shake off its exclusive image in a drive to turn it into a location for serious skiers.

After lobbying the International Ski Federation, Courchevel won the right to host Tuesday's Women's World Cup Slalom - for the first time in 31 years.

Before news of Pinchuk's party, Robert Mantot, the council's chief executive, was quoted by The Times as saying: 'This is a resort where you can ski and not just go to nightclubs. We want to get away from the image of bling bling alone.'

But he later told the paper: '[The party] doesn't worry us. In France we distrust money. But it's not because we want to diversify our image that we're going to reject our up-market clientele.'

And Adeline Roux, the site's tourist office director, told ski tourism consultancy Switch that the women's slalom was a chance to banish 'the sulfurous reputation that clings to us'.

She since told the Guardian: 'It's a private event so there's nothing to say.'

The birthday boy, who is married to the daughter of Ukraine's former president Leonid Kuchma, is worth an estimated £1.9bn and has one of the world's largest private modern art collections, including works by Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst.

Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people.

His press office refused to comment on the party.

However a local chambermaid at the resort told Le Parisien: 'I slave away all winter for a miserable wage and then when I see how some people can spend millions in a single evening it disgusts me. We are on another planet here.'

One skier, who asked not to be named, added: 'Five million for a party ... it's indecent. It's particularly scandalous because so many people in France are having trouble making ends meet, let alone buying Christmas presents, because of the crisis.'

SOURCE: Daily Mail
 
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