Mining financier Robert Friedland hopes to strike box-office gold – by Eric Reguly (Globe and Mail – September 22, 2018)

If you are rich, restless and want to reinvent your career as, say, a movie mogul, Villa TreVille can provide plenty of inspiration. Plastered on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, next to the village of Positano, it was the home of famed Italian film director Franco Zeffirelli, who played host to some of the greatest artistic talent of the sixties, seventies and eighties – Federico Fellini, Elizabeth Taylor, Leonard Bernstein, Rudolf Nureyev, Maria Callas, Leonard Cohen, the Beatles – in the villa’s fairy-tale gardens and terraces.

Today, the great muses have largely disappeared from the villa’s guest roster, but the artistic tradition remains. The villa is where Robert Friedland, the Canadian-American founder and executive co-chairman of Vancouver’s Ivanhoe Mines Ltd., is contemplating his new career as a film producer and celebrating the success of Crazy Rich Asians, the new hit movie co-produced by Ivanhoe Pictures. He happens to own Villa TreVille.

“This is heaven,” he says, perched on a high terrace that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea, the town of Positano – which cascades like a waterfall down impossibly steep cliffs – and the Amalfi Drive, the narrow, terrifying road that was built by Joseph-Napoléon Bonaparte, the king of Naples and Sicily and older brother of the emperor.

Mr. Friedland is 68 and is worth US$1-billion, according to Forbes. The Positano News reported that he paid a local hotel owner between €45-million and €70-million in 2013 for Villa TreVille, which is now one of the world’s most expensive boutique hotels. (Mr. Zeffirelli, who is 95, sold it in 2007 and retreated to Rome.)

It is one of the world’s most expensive boutique hotels and underwent a sumptuous refit under the direction of Mr. Friedland’s 43-year-old geologist son, Govind, who wants to turn Villa TreVille into an international luxury brand whose properties blur the line between villa and hotel. The September rate for one of its 16 suites was almost €2,000 a night.

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