See you in court! Gardening bill that could cost Becker his home

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Boris Becker's luxury Mallorcan villa was yesterday reported to have been impounded by authorities on the Spanish holiday island because the former Wimbledon star allegedly failed to pay bills totalling more than a quarter of a million euros to his gardener.

Becker's opulent and isolated Finca Son Coll is estimated to be worth €15m. It boasts a swimming pool of "Olympic dimensions", an amphitheatre, and a tennis court which is said to feature net posts salvaged from Wimbledon's legendary Court 2, where he won fame at the age of 17.

Yesterday, Germany's mass-circulation Bild and other newspapers cited Mallorcan media reports which said the island's authorities had impounded Son Coll because Becker had failed to meet bills totalling €276,000 covering the upkeep of the Finca's extensive 75-acre grounds.

Becker told Bild yesterday: "It's not so dramatic. If someone believes they have been treated unjustly, it is up to them to seek compensation. I can't say any more because legal proceedings are under way." But he added: "From mid-July on, I will be here and setting up my annual summer camp with my family as usual."

His lawyers maintain that under an agreement reached with estate agent Matthias Kühn, the outstanding gardening bill can be paid only when the property is sold off. However, the estate agent insists that it is not responsible for settling Becker's gardening debts.

"Becker's Finca has, so to speak, been confiscated by his gardener. If the former tennis star does not agree to pay up, the villa will be sold off at auction," a comment in the island's German-language Mallorca Zeitung newspaper read yesterday.

Son Coll has caused financial headaches for the tennis legend since he bought the property with his former wife, Barbara, in 1997. The German media have dubbed it the "House of Horrors". A builder is reported to have lodged a claim for about €500,000 for allegedly unpaid work.

Becker, who has been in London to commentate on the current Wimbledon championship, was fined more than €200,000 by the courts in 2004 for making unauthorised changes to the traditional Mallorcan farmhouse, which is located near Arta in the north-east of the island.

The property contains a Moroccan-style living room, basketball and tennis courts, riding stables and a large garden with orange trees. The amphitheatre, which Becker had specially built, is intended for rock concerts.

"I come from a family of architects and interior designers," Becker said during a recent interview about the Finca. "I was on a building site before I was playing tennis, so I was very much involved."

Despite being on the market since 2007 and featuring in a number of international property magazines, Son Coll has so far failed to attract a buyer. Becker was obliged to pay about €10m to his former wife, Barbara, as part of their divorce settlement. The break-up followed a sexual encounter between Becker and Russian émigrée Angela Ermakova in the cleaning cupboard of a London restaurant in 1999. Becker is thought to have paid £1m for a London apartment for Ms Ermakova and Anna, the daughter who resulted from their encounter.

The former tennis champion, who has faced charges of tax evasion in Germany, currently lives in Switzerland and has remarried.

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