Piers Morgan On Monaco

by Lisa McGarry

In this brand new series for ITV1, Piers Morgan acts as our access-all-areas VIP pass to some of the most glamorous locations in the world.

Getting under the skin of Dubai, Monte Carlo and Hollywood, Piers takes viewers with him on a journey that offers a rare insight into the hotspots, people, and extremes of three of the most desirable places on the planet.

In the second programme, Piers jets into the world’s most expensive place to live – Monaco.

To the south of France on the Mediterranean Sea, Monaco is just one square mile of pure affluence packed with billionaires, millionaires, luxury yachts and flash cars. At the heart of it all is Monte Carlo, home to a world famous casino and the place to be seen.

Piers scratches beneath the surface of this mesmerising place and meets some of its wealthiest residents, the celebrities who have settled there and even manages to buttonhole the current ruler, Prince Albert. He also works out now much money he would need to buy the best yacht, apartment, car and accessories on offer.

He also meets some of Monaco’s less wealthy residents to find out what it’s like living alongside incomprehensible affluence, including Easyjet’s Stelios and British High Street king Sir Phillip Green, who along with other tycoons, were lured to Monaco because residents don’t have to pay tax.

The show follows Piers as he meets an estate agent who shows him the best apartment in town – a four-bedroom duplex with a roof garden which overlooks the harbour and is worth a jaw-dropping £60m – an estimated £30m of which is attributed to the view.

Against a backdrop of yachts – one worth a staggering £250m – in the harbour, he also meets the man known in the area as ‘Mr Yacht’, the leading boat broker in Monaco who tells Piers he would need at least 100m euros to have the best one in town.

And Piers checks out the shops in Monaco where a jewel encrusted watch will set you back 1m euros and you can buy the most expensive car in the world – a Bugatti Veyron which can hit speeds of up to 250mph. The Bugatti costs 1.1m euros before tax and there are already SIX registered in Monaco.

Piers meets one ex-pat millionaire who tells him you need at least £10m in the bank to live a ‘comfortable’ lifestyle in Monaco. Mike Peagram moved to the country eight years ago after selling his chemical company for £44m. He saved around £13m in capital gains tax by moving to Monaco and now lives the high-life, driving an Aston Martin and dining in the best restaurants in town.

He says: “Anything that money buys, Monaco delivers very well, whether it’s five star hotels, restaurants, we’ve got a very nice cultural life as well, I’m a friend of the opera, friend of the orchestra…in the last few weeks I’ve been to Diana Ross, Celine Dion, and Katie Melua.”

Piers also meets Brit Myles Mourdant an ex-racing driver who has lived there for six years and made his fortune in marketing. He takes Piers for a drive in his white Lamborghini and shows him around the apartment he is renovating and hoping to sell for over £1m.

The programme follows Piers as he visits the world famous casino in Monte Carlo. Until it was built in 1863, Monaco was one of the poorest places in Europe, but the casino was the saviour of the country and within a few years was generating enough money for income tax to be abolished.

Piers takes a look around the six exquisite gaming rooms and meets the professional gambler who once won £1m in one session.

John Duthie tells Piers: “This is really where it all started…everything about Monaco, it’s just luxury, you feel that you are sitting in luxury, everything, the chips, the personnel, the way that you’re treated…there’s something very, very special about it. It really is the Mecca for gamblers.”

Piers also meets some of the country’s better known residents including Formula One champion David Coulthard who has won the Monaco Grand Prix twice and moved there to escape tax and the paparazzi, which are banned there.

Piers takes the racing driver for a spin in a convertible Mercedes through the narrow streets of Monaco and finds out why he loves living there.

David, who now owns a hotel in Monaco, tells Piers: “It’s totally unique, I’ve never seen anything like this anywhere in the world. There is no paparazzi, I went into St Tropez yesterday, and paparazzi everywhere…It should just be another place where you can go and hang out and have fun with your friends. Monaco, they’re not here.”

Piers tells the programme about the history of the glamour of Monaco which began when Hollywood film star Grace Kelly met and fell in love with the country’s prince. The pair married in a fairytale ceremony which was watched by 30m people across the world on TV.

Grace Kelly died in a car accident, and her son, Prince Albert is now the ruler of the country. Piers meets Prince Albert at a photography exhibition where he speaks to him about his late mother.

And Piers takes a look around Mohammed Al Fayed’s yacht – the one that Dodi and Diana, Princess of Wales spent their last holiday on. Mohammed talks to him about spending time with Diana and Grace in Monaco.

Piers also meets Mick Hucknall who is performing in the principality but says he would never want to live there because its inhabitants believe in money ‘like a religion’.

He tells Piers he thinks a lot of people living there are unhappy.

He says: “There’s a lot of old guys here with very young girls and, and if they are not hookers, they’re on a wage, or what they might call, an allowance and they usually end up in a separation with an apartment and a car, and then they move onto the next guy…of course there are perfectly respectable families here…but I’d say there’s an awful lot of hookers here.”

And Mr Brian, the Englishman who set up a catering firm in Monaco in the 1970s who tells Piers the country has changed and he believes workers are now being squeezed out. The average worker in Monaco earns £2000 a month and 40,000 commute from France everyday because they can not afford to live in the principality.

Mr Brian says: “Because you’ve got certain nationalities coming in and prepared to pay any money to get an apartment…a worker could never afford to buy an apartment. I just hope we don’t get swamped by traffic and too many people, because that to me, will take a lot of the charm away, and a lot of the charm was based around the fact that it was to a certain extent, a village atmosphere that you could go down the road and you knew ten people…now, you don’t get that situation.”

After visiting the country Piers feels disgruntled that incredibly rich people can afford to leave Britain without paying tax, yet the rest of us are left behind picking up the bills.

He discusses this with Dragon’s Den star James Caan who disagrees and says he believes Monaco is the ultimate prize for being successful.

He says: “There has to be a prize for being successful, Piers, you know, what’s the point in working so hard all of your life, if there isn’t a prize at the end, and maybe Monaco is the prize.”

Thursday, 5 February 2009, 9:00PM – 10:00PM

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