McDonald’s heir robbed of 250,000 at his French villa

The heir to the McDonald’s fast food empire was violently attacked in a 15-minute ordeal and robbed of £250,000 at his villa in Provence, southern France.

Henry Samuel in Paris
Published: 5:37PM BST 29 Jun 2010

Geoffrey McDonald, 60, and his 58-year-old wife were violently attacked Photo: AFP / GETTY

Geoffrey McDonald, 60, and his 58-year-old wife were left "severely shocked and bruised" after the burglary at their eight-bedroom home in Eygalieres, near Avignon a small, picturesque village where many celebrities have second homes.

Hollywood stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie recently bought a £10-million chateau in the same village in a region that attracts thousands of British tourists every year.

The masked robbers managed to circumvent the villa’s burglar alarm and break into Mr McDonald’s home on the night of June 18.

Police said they stumbled on the sleeping couple at 3am while searching the house for valuables, and "violently beat" Mr McDonald before making off with between 300,000 and 400,000 in jewellery and cash, as well as passports.

It is understood they were subjected to "15 minutes of anguish, violence and terror".

The couple’s children and other friends, sleeping in guest bungalows in the domain’s grounds, were not woken by the robbers.

Their lawyer Gilles-Jean Portejoie said the pair were "severely shocked" by the burglary and had flown home to the US after giving statements to police on Monday.

Local judicial officials said it was the latest in a string of robberies targeting wealthy residents in the region. "We’ve had a big series (in the region), around a dozen acts since the start of the year. So we’re clearly dealing with quite a professional team targeting wealthy people," said Christian Pasta, the local public prosecutor.

Located on the outskirts of the village, the McDonald’s villa has two guest bungalows and a swimming pool on six acres of grounds, and olive groves.

Locals said the fast food heir was known as "Monsieur McDonald" in the village, where he and his wife were much appreciated.

France has a love-hate relationship with McDonald’s as a company.

Anti-fast food crusaders led by Jos Bov trashed a McDonald’s store in 1999 and there was uproar when it announced it would open a branch next to the Louvre this year. But France is the group’s second most profitable country after the US and it has just celebrated its 30 anniversary here. Its Champs Elyses store is the most frequented in the world.

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