2nd January, 2014 by Lucy Shaw
Buddhist monks have conducted a benediction ceremony at Château de La Riviere in Bordeaux after its new Chinese owner and former owner died in a helicopter crash.
Lam Kok (second right) and James Gregoire pose outside Château de la Riviere in Fronsac following its sale for a reported €30m to Kok on 19 December. A day later, both were killed in a helicopter crash. Credit: Getty Images/AFP
As reported by AFP, 26 members of the Fo Guang Shan monastic order led prayers for “happiness and harmony” at the Fronsac estate on Christmas Eve, following the crash on 20 December.
The château’s managing director, Xavier Buffo, told AFP that while such ceremonies were common in Chinese culture when large investments are made in new sites, he admitted that the prayers were “precipitated” by the tragedy.
The château’s new owner, Chinese businessman Lam Kok, his interpreter Wang Peng and former owner, French entrepreneur James Gregoire, have been missing since their helicopter crashed into a river on 20 December during a celebratory tour of the vineyard by air just one day after the sale.
Police recovered the body of Lam’s 12-year-old son, Shun Yu Kok, from the helicopter wreckage in the Dordogne river the day after the crash, the cause of which has yet to be determined.
French rescue teams have spent days scouring the cold waters of the Dordogne for the bodies of the remaining three victims. Thus far, poor visibility and strong currents have hampered the search.
Kok splashed out a reported €30m on the 65-hectare estate on 19 December with the aim of building a hotel nearby and running tea and wine tasting events.
His widow was supposed to board the yellow-and-black Robinson R44 but pulled out at the last minute due to a fear of helicopters.
She and Kok ran Hong Kong-based company, Brilliant, which dealt in rare teas and luxury hotels.
This is not the first tragedy to befall the ill-fated château – in 2002, owner Jean Leprince was killed in an air accident.