It's not the usual problem you'd expect from the sale of a $41 million mansion in a swanky part of Paris: Renovation workers found a corpse in the basement. And now work has been suspended while police conduct a murder investigation, reports the Guardian, which rounds up the strange tale from French-language sources including Le Monde and Le Parisien. The discovery was made after an investment bigwig named Jean-Bernard Lafonta paid the hefty sum for the mansion once lived in by playwright and poet François Coppée. The place, though, has been vacant for more than three decades and, as these photos show, it needs serious work. That's exactly what was happening when workers found the corpse in the basement as they removed wood and debris.
Police think the remains have been there about 30 years, but one part of the mystery has been solved: Based on papers found with the body, they have identified him as Jean-Pierre Renaud, described by police as an itinerant with a drinking problem. It seems he ended up in the mansion after it became abandoned, and it turned into a murder case when investigators discovered knife marks and broken bones. "We could imagine a fight with someone else living on the margin," says one police source. "But it’s unclear whether he died in the mansion or was brought there, and we may never find out who was responsible. It’s quite possible the murderer is himself now dead." (Read more Paris stories.)