Novel fullerene-containing Eu (III) complexes are obtained by mixing a fullerene derivative bearing chelating pyridinyl groups with an Eu (III) complex possessing three coordinated 4,4,4,-trifluoro-1-(2-naphtyl)-1,3-butanedione residues and two water molecules. One of the complexes designed is formed in water using a water-soluble fullerene derivative as a precursor material. We investigate the photophysical properties of this new type of highly soluble self-assembled fullerene-derivative Eu3+ coordination compounds. A strong emission line of the Eu3+ 4f–4f transition is recorded under excitation with UV irradiation. The behaviour of the complexes in organic matrices and water is studied as the first steps towards luminescence tagged fullerene derivatives for use in biomedicine and optoelectronics.