Casa Cornide, the last Chinese in the millionaire shoe of the Franco family

The Francos cannot happiness reigns definitively within your family. If this week they received good news: the sale for 70 million euros of the family building on Hermanos Bécquer street, in Madrid, The information is not so promising a little further north, specifically in La Coruña. There, another of the lawsuits that has kept the Martínez-Bordiú family in suspense for years is intensifying these days. This is Casa Cornide, the mansion with residential architecture from the 18th century that Franco's heirs have owned in the center of La Coruña since 1962. Now, The Galician city council is considering recovering it for the council.

Its mayor, Inés Rey, announced this week in the government control session the activation of the administrative procedures necessary for the recovery of Casa Cornide. The intention of the council is review and reverse the decisions made by the City Council 62 years ago, “who allowed a public building to end up in the hands of the Franco family after being usurped from all the people of A Coruña under an appearance of legality,” the councilor noted.

Baroque in character and inspired by the French mansions of the time, Casa Cornide was designed by the military engineer Francisco Llobet. It is located in front of the Romanesque façade of the Collegiate Church of Santa María do Campo. The history of the sale to the Franco family dates back to 1962. On June 22 of that year, the mansion became the property of Carmen Polo and, due to her marriage in community property, also of Francisco Franco, after having previously been heritage of the Ministry of Education, and later of the City Council of La Coruña.

Franco's relatives, José Cristobal (ci) and Luis Alfonso de Borbón Martínez-Bordiú (cd) lead the family procession that carries the coffin with the dictator's mortal remains after his exhumation in the Basilica of the Valley of the Fallen before his transfer to the El Pardo-Mingorrubio cemetery for reburial, in Madrid, on October 24, 2019.Pool

From there, according to the council, the chronology of the events suggests that the transfer of the property was, to say the least, irregular. On June 22, Casa Cornide passed from the Ministry of Education to the City Council of La Coruña for an appraised value of 344,813 pesetas. On August 3, it became the property of Pedro Barrié de la Maza, 1st Count of Fenosa and an important businessman and financier, for 305,000 pesetas, and On August 6, it was sold to Carmen Polo for 25,0000 pesetas, not even 10 percent of its real value.

Now, in her fight to revert the ownership of the property, the mayor of La Coruña is looking for evidence that proves the nullity of the sale. For it, announced on April 10 the initiation of an expropriation file, giving itself a period of six months to complete it. In reality, the news had already been reported to the media with great fanfare a week before, but it was not until the plenary session on April 17 that the file was agreed upon, outside the agenda and after a declaration of urgency. In fact, the agreement promoted by the Area of ​​Development and Promotion of the City, “aimed at the recovery of ownership and incorporation of the Cornide House into the municipal public heritage”, was not approved until this past Thursday, at the meeting of the Local Government Board. Since being notified, the Franco family has 15 days to appear as affected in the procedure. The City Council has already announced that it will urge the Ministry of Education to say whether the property was disaffected as a public asset in accordance with the law in force at that time.

Parallel, It will also review the agreements of the public bid held in 1962 which caused the manor to end up in the hands of Pedro Barrié de la Maza. To this end, he has summoned the Franco family in a prior hearing, as affected by the annulment file, requesting an opinion from the Consultative Council of Galicia.

This newspaper tried to contact the City Council to find out first-hand from the councilor the status of the procedure, without obtaining a response in this regard.

The Franco family responds

The last testimony of the council's position has to do with the council secretary, who On Monday he saw the return of the manor to the City Hall as viable, alleging that there is a direct link between the council and the property, for having contributed to its conservation in recent years. This would be “relevant to consider the true nature of it”

The Franco family does not think the same. Contacted by Francis Franco, spokesman for the clan in this type of conflict, he assured this newspaper that he had not “received any notification in this regard. They may have requested it and we have not been transferred. “Anyway, this is a recurring theme that has been repeated for six or eight years.”

The family sees in the mayor's action a clear intention of the City Council to block the sale of the manor. «This procedure, furthermore, – Franco points out – has nothing to do with the sale of Casa Cornide, The mansion can be sold, worse, but it can be sold anyway. The council has been threatening for five or six months as a publicity weapon, but no one has notified us. The lawyers are calm and, therefore, we are also calm. Asked if he is afraid that Casa Cornide will suffer the same fate as the Pazo de Meirás, he responds: “We still do not have a ruling on the Pazo de Meirás” (pending the Supreme Court).

The Pazo de Meirás
The Pazo de MeirásHorse riding

The City Council's intention to expropriate Casa Cornide follows the footprint of the lawsuit raised by the Pazo de Meirás, a summer resort of the Franco family that the City Council managed to recover for the administration in September 2020. In that case, its forced expropriation from the Francos It came after a ruling by the Court of First Instance number 1 of La Coruña, which ruled that the manor was property of the State, declaring the “personal donation” to Franco and his family null and void. Despite the open procedure, the mansion, which was declared BIC (Asset of Cultural Interest) a year ago, is still for sale.

Sale in record time

Claims aside, the Francos are also protagonists this week for the sale of the family building on Hermanos Bécquer street, in Madrid. Carmen Franco, the matriarch of the Franco clan, lived there until her death. on December 27, 2017, and that was the meeting place for the entire family on designated dates. According to the “Vanitatis” portal, the Francos would have just sold in record time the seven luxury apartments of more than 600 m2 each that make up the building. An operation for which the family would have pocketed an amount close to 70 million euros, taking into account its market value.

The Francos sell their mother's residence in Madrid, converted into luxury apartments.  The seven homes in the building on Hermanos Bécquer Street are the family's real estate jewel in the capital.
The Francos sell their mother's residence in Madrid, converted into luxury apartments. The seven homes in the building on Hermanos Bécquer Street are the family's real estate jewel in the capital.Alberto R. RoldánThe reason

After the death of Carmen Franco, her heirs considered putting the crown jewel of the family's brick heritage up for sale to obtain liquidity, but they finally rejected it, among other things, because most of the building was rented. The fact of not receiving an economically interesting offer also weighed on the heirs' decision. A million-dollar offer that does seem to have arrived now, six and a half years after the death of Carmen Franco and with which the family makes money again.

Another property in contention is La Piniella, an Asturian mansion located in the town of San Cucao that Carmen Polo, Franco's wife, inherited from her parents. It has been for sale for six years, but despite successive discounts, there does not seem to be any interest in purchasing it. From the five million euros that were initially requested, it has now risen to 1.9 million.

Exterior image of La Piniella in Asturias
Exterior image of La Piniella in AsturiasEngel & Völkers

For the couple it was a very dear place, as it was the residence where they spent their wedding night, on October 23, 1923. The property is for sale on the real estate portal Engel& Völkers, as a “beautiful 18th century country house in Piniella, in the center of Asturias with large outdoor spaces and several buildings”: guard house, warehouse, stable, chicken coop and double-height car nursery. Once rehabilitated, the real estate company assesses in its announcement the possibility of taking advantage of the property for investments linked to hospitality and restaurants.

The new brick bosses

The sale of the Hermanos Bécquer building is not the only novelty in the Franco corporate universe. Fiolasa SL, the flagship of the family's brick heritage, underwent organizational chart changes last August. Carmen Martínez Bordiú left the society while two of her brothers, José Cristobal y Arancha took management control as president and CEO respectively. A month before, Francis Franco left the council, leaving his position to his son, Álvaro Franco Guisasola, in his position as advisor.