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This Fugitive Allegedly Faked His Own Death to Chill in a $3.4 Million Castle

A clear lesson in what not to do after faking your own death.

by Drew Schwartz
18 October 2018, 9:18pm

Photos via Europol

For years, investigators have been hunting for the alleged mastermind behind a massive Ukrainian corruption scandal who mysteriously disappeared in 2015, only to hit a dead end when they learned that, somehow, the guy had died. But this week, authorities announced he wasn't dead after all—apparently, he's actually just been chilling in a giant, 800-year-old castle in France.

French police found him camped out in the plush Chateau de La Rochepot with more than $5 million worth of absurdly bougie assets, including a vintage Rolls Royce and three Salvador Dalís, according the Independent. Contrary to what his "forged death certificates" would have them believe, he'd been living it up inside the glitzy château with three of his accomplices, who were also arrested during the raid earlier this month.

"During an operational meeting held at Europol between France, Luxembourg, and Ukraine, it was established that the suspect was not only alive, but was enjoying a lavish lifestyle in France," according to the Europol press release.

There's no official word from Europol on the guy's name, but according to the BBC and Radio Free Europe, Ukrainian officials identified him as Dmytro Malinovskiy. Just before he was set to show up in Ukrainian court back in 2014, he allegedly staged a car accident, and had his wife bring the cops a forged death certificate and what she said were his ashes to "prove" he'd been killed, according to Chris Miller, an RFE reporter who covers the region. After he was declared dead by a Ukrainian judge in May 2015, he was ostensibly planning his new life in the picturesque Burgundy town of Rochepot.

You'd think someone trying to convince the world they were dead might want to lay low, or go fully off the grid. But in this case, the French cops got tipped off about some "suspicious transactions" surrounding the purchase of a $3.45 million castle in the area, ultimately made by a Luxembourg company Malinovskiy was the "ultimate beneficial owner" of. And as experts will tell you, the best way to fake your own death is to live as un-glamorously as possible—which means, you know, not buying a $3 million castle in the French countryside and filling it with priceless art.

The villa he was camping out in is apparently open to the public—you can tour the thing for about $10, getting an inside look at its lavishly decorated halls and hearing all about its complex history as it was passed "from hand to hand" among a long list of bougie-ass French royals. But hey: Maybe someone can just turn the place into a museum about how it wound up in the hands of a supposedly dead Ukrainian grifter who allegedly laundered a shit ton of dirty money, now that it needs a new owner.

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This article originally appeared on VICE US.