Updated: 12/25/2013 01:59 | By Agence France-Presse

Buddhist monks pray for happiness at 'unlucky' French chateau

Buddhist monks Tuesday conducted a benediction ceremony at a French chateau and vineyard whose new Chinese buyer and its former owner are feared dead after a helicopter crash.


Buddhist monks pray for happiness at 'unlucky' French chateau

Buddhists perform a blessing and purification ceremony at the Chateau de La Riviere, south western France, on December 24, 2013.

Twenty-six members of the Fo Guang Shan monastic order led prayers for "happiness and harmony at the Chateau de la Riviere and its surrounding region," said Xavier Buffo, the managing director of the chateau.

Buffo said such ceremonies were common where "large investments are made in new sites" but added that the prayers were "precipitated" as a result of the tragedy. 

Lam Kok, a 46-year-old Chinese tea-and-property magnate, his interpreter and financial advisor, Peng Wang, and James Gregoire, a French entrepreneur who sold the property have been missing since their helicopter crashed into a river on Friday, a day after the sale.

The Chinese tycoon's wife had been meant to be on the doomed flight, but declined at the last minute, explaining she was afraid of helicopters.

She and her husband head a Hong Kong company, Brilliant, which dealt in upmarket teas, luxury hotels and the construction and management of shopping centres.

On Thursday, they had bought the Chateau de La Riviere and its 65-hectare (160-acre) of vineyards for a reported 30 million euros ($41 million) with the aim of turning it into an elite tea-and wine-tasting retreat with plans to build a hotel nearby.

The property is located in the wine-producing Bordeaux region.

Gregoire had bought the property, the largest in Bordeaux's Fronsac wine-producing region and close to the prestigious Saint-Emilion domain, in 2003 -- a year after the previous owner died in a plane crash.

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