For sale on Taobao: Italian villa for nearly $22 million

For sale on Taobao: Italian villa for nearly $22 million

SHANGHAI - For sale online to a wealthy Chinese buyer: historic Italian villa, starting price US$16.4 million (nearly S$22 million), immigration possible.

A sprawling luxury property near the Italian city of Verona - home to Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet -- was put up for auction Thursday on Taobao, the flagship site of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

Photographs show a pale two-storey building with a red tile roof amid grounds featuring manicured lawns and neatly trimmed hedges dotted with statues surrounding a fountain. Inside a well-stocked library is pictured dominated by a large table.

The seller, a Beijing-based immigration firm called Cansine, started bidding at 100 million yuan ($16.4 million) but said the property was worth 173.25 million yuan.

The villa has a floor area of 2,831 square metres (30,500 square feet), it added, claiming the buyer would be able to apply for residency in Italy.

Nevertheless by a third of the way into the sale period -- which will last only 12 hours -- no buyers had come forward.

"Not a single bid so far, real rich people won't come here. This is just a stunt," said one of the more than 90,000 who viewed the online auction.

Alibaba's Taobao is estimated to hold more than 90 per cent of the consumer-to-consumer market in China. Under its rules, the seller is responsible for the authenticity of the item description and supporting documentation.

Cansine could not be immediately reached for comment.

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