Prime Minister’s son-in-law acquires famous castle

An historic castle in central Hungary’s Mura has changed hands regularly over the past few decades, recently falling under the ownership of a company closely linked to the prime minister’s son-in-law. Although featured in several international screen productions and with plenty of potential, it remains dilapidated as the costs of refurbishment are astronomical.

The castle in central Hungary’s Mura is familiar to many people around the world, given it has served as the location for a number of television shows as well as an Angelina Jolie movie. The building constructed in 1883 is, nonetheless, abandoned and in a state of decay. While there have been plenty of ideas over the years for putting it to us, nothing has ever come of the plans. There have also been plenty of owners, who apparently decided to drop their original ambitions for the property after realising the costs of the necessary makeover.

The castle, built in the late 19th century, originally served as a summer home for nobles. Then, as history progressed and conditions changed over the course of the World Wars, and following regime changes, the castle served as a hospital and then as a school. After 1973, a sequence of disputes occurred in ownership between the state publishing company, the local municipality and an Indian businessman, who wanted to turn the building into a luxury hotel in 1991. Sachidananda Sukumar seems to have miscalculated the deal, his company was closed shortly after. And it is reasonable to assume the reason for the fall was the finances needed to cover the immense cost of reconstructing the castle.

The latest activity on record was in 2006, when Tura Invest Kft acquired a majority stake, only to fold shortly afterwards. At least this instance revealed a more concrete plan, once more to turn the building into a hotel utilizing bank loans, tender funds and capital. The estimate at the time was HUF 6 billion (€19.4 million). Nothing became of the idea.

After several filings, from 2012 there was little in the way of activity until TRA Real Estates Kft bought the facility for HUF 200 million (€645,000) in December, 2015. The purchasing company has plenty of interesting characteristics. It is registered in an apartment in Budapest, it was founded shortly before the transaction, and it was quickly tied to Istvan Tiborcz, the son-in-law of Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Tiborcz is widely known to have benefited from his family ties having been awarded plenty of state contracts for his previous lighting business.

Atlatszo.hu reached out to the company to comment on its plans for the castle but received no response. To date, there is no visible activity surrounding the castle, more likely than not, the new owners are also discouraged by the costs. The locals we spoke to say they would be happy if the building got a makeover but admit that it probably wouldn’t mean a sustainable business investment. For one reason, a house that big would cost a fortune to heat in the winter, not to mention other management costs.

Original article in Hungarian.