CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS

CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS

Friday, July 3, 2015

Forget the McMansion - this is the giga-mansion

 

 

 

 

 

Forget the McMansion - this is the giga-mansion

 

 

London's billionaires moan of housing crisis because the capital's mansions are 'like broom cupboards' when compared to their super-mansions around the globe

  • London has the highest concentration of billionaires in the world - with around 140 now owning a home the city
  • But they find the average London mansion too small when compared to their palatial homes in other countries
  • Now many of those in 'top one per cent' are buying already grand homes and extending them into personal palaces

Billionaires in London are experiencing their own housing crisis because mansions in the capital are simply not big enough, according to experts.

London has the highest concentration of billionaires in the world - with around 140 now owning a home the city - far more than New York, which has 103, Moscow, which has 85, Hong Kong, which has 82 and Paris's 33.

So while many British people struggle with the staggering property prices for both renting and buying in the capital, the super-rich are having their own 'first world' problem.

London's billionaires are bemoaning the fact that many of the capital's mansions are 'too small' compared to their other homes - so they are buying luxury homes and extending them into 'personal palaces' (Pictured is 1 Cornwall Terrace which is being transformed) 

+8

London's billionaires are bemoaning the fact that many of the capital's mansions are 'too small' compared to their other homes - so they are buying luxury homes and extending them into 'personal palaces' (Pictured is 1 Cornwall Terrace which is being transformed)

Cornwall Terrace is one London property being transformed into a mega-mansion. It was bought by Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser of Qatar, for her favourite son, the current Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani

+8

Cornwall Terrace is one London property being transformed into a mega-mansion. It was bought by Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser of Qatar, for her favourite son, the current Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani

The three homes on Cornwall Terrace cost a combined total of £120million - the owner wants to transform them into a single dwelling

+8

The three homes on Cornwall Terrace cost a combined total of £120million - the owner wants to transform them into a single dwelling

The terrace at Cornwall Terrace. Plans to extend the Grade I-listed home have been initially knocked back as it goes against Westminster Council's policy for reducing the number of homes in the borough - but revised plans are already in the pipeline

+8

The terrace at Cornwall Terrace. Plans to extend the Grade I-listed home have been initially knocked back as it goes against Westminster Council's policy for reducing the number of homes in the borough - but revised plans are already in the pipeline

They want fully-furnished, ready-to-live-in mega homes but London's top properties are like 'broom cupboards' when compared to those in many billionaires' home countries.

So they are knocking individual mansions together, restoring and extending already grand homes and transforming commercial properties into family palaces.

Beauchamp Estates has released its Ultra Prime Barometer, a study on billionaires and their property habits.

Gary Hersham, of Beauchamp, said: 'London commentators often forget that in Russia, the Ukraine and Middle East the homes of the super-rich are massive compared to traditional London homes.

'Palatial properties in places like Ukraine, Qatar and Saudi Arabia can be up to 150,000 sq/ft in size.

'So an 8,000 sq/ft London townhouse is like a broom cupboard when compared to super-rich palaces elsewhere on the globe.

'This is why some extremely adroit super-rich vendors are creating a new level in the London property market and palaces that are a size level above anything currently for sale in the marketplace.

'They know that, like a coveted painting, the rarity value and quality of such a property will ensure that it holds and increases in value.

'There will always be super-rich buyers available for truly unique trophy mansions at this top one per cent of the London housing market.'

Number 13-4 Princes Gate - which was the childhood home of JFK - was bought by the Saudi Royal Family who plan to extend it

+8

Number 13-4 Princes Gate - which was the childhood home of JFK - was bought by the Saudi Royal Family who plan to extend it

Chesterfield Gardens (pictured) in Mayfair is currently being transformed into a mega-mansion by billionaire John Caudwell

+8

Chesterfield Gardens (pictured) in Mayfair is currently being transformed into a mega-mansion by billionaire John Caudwell

Properties currently being transformed into personal palaces or going through planning stages in London include 1-3 Cornwall Terrace, Cambridge, Witanhurst and 14 Princes Gate.

Cornwall Terrace was bought by Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser of Qatar for her favourite son, the current Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

The three homes cost a combined £120 million and the owners now want to transform it into a single dwelling.

However, their plans have been initially knocked back as it goes against Westminster Council's policy of reducing the number of homes in the borough - but revised plans are currently in the pipeline.

Witanhurst, in Highgate, will be worth £300million when it is completed and will be the capital's second largest home after Buckingham Palace.

It is believed to be owned by a Russian billionaire who secretly bought it in 2008.

94-95 Piccadilly aka Cambridge House, a London property being transformed into a mega-mansion

+8

94-95 Piccadilly aka Cambridge House, a London property being transformed into a mega-mansion

Rutland Gate, in Knightsbridge, a 45 bedroom London mansion which is one of the few uber-uber homes in London

+8

Rutland Gate, in Knightsbridge, a 45 bedroom London mansion which is one of the few uber-uber homes in London

Meanwhile number 14 Princes Gate, which was once the childhood home of JFK, was bought by the Saudi Royal Family who plan to turn it into another £300 million home.

Cambridge House was acquired by Motcomb Estates in 2011, and in April 2013 the company won approval to develop it into a 60,600 sq/ft mega-home worth £250million.

The mansion will have 48 rooms, a 35,000 bottle wine cellar and an underground swimming complex.

Mr Hersham added: 'The reason why these grand former embassy buildings like 1-3 Cornwall terrace and 14 Princes Gate are being converted back to their original residential use, and also being enlarged into homes providing over 30,000 sq/ft of living space, is that in both cases is quite simply there isn't anything available on the marketplace at this size in London.

'Owners are creating their own marketplace and converting opulent buildings into new palatial private homes.

'With their huge resources, the super-rich building new mega-palaces in London can afford to be patient, they employ planning consultants, lawyers, architects and contractors to deal with the frustrations of London's complex planning system.

'An ordinary Londoner planning an extension to their home can be driven mad by planning paperwork, red tape and delays.

'Not the super-rich, they can employ an army of consultants to 'suck up' any frustration.'

 

 

Jennifer Aniston leads LA protest against the rise of 90,000-square-foot properties which they claim are ruining life for other millionaire homeowners

  • Developers are building giga-mansions in Los Angeles's exclusive Beverly Hills and Bel Air neighborhoods
  • But these sprawling homes have sparked outrage among wealthy locals, including actress Jennifer Aniston
  • They claim the residences are creating noise in the area, invading their privacy, and endangering their homes
  • One mother said construction trucks are driving through Bel Air like 'freight trains', ruining 'peace and quiet'
  • Fred Rosen, who built Ticketmaster, recently set up Bel-Air Homeowners Alliance out of anger at developers
  • City officials are reviewing plans by developer Nile Niami to construct 90,000sq ft home to sell for $150million

For some billionaires, a McMansion in an upscale Los Angeles neighborhood just isn't enough.

So, high-end developers are building giga-mansions - luxury homes covering up to a whopping 90,000 square feet with jaw-dropping features.

But these sprawling residences, in Beverly Hills and Bel Air, have sparked outrage among wealthy residents, including actress Jennifer Aniston.

They claim that the giga-mansions are creating noise in the area, invading their privacy, and endangering their homes by destabilizing the hillside.

They have been complaining to city officials - and have even set up a homeowners' alliance - in a bid to put a stop to the ostentatious developments.

Aniston, 46, whose $21million Bel Air mansion - which she shares with her fiancé Justin Theroux - covers a fewer 8,500 square feet, told officials that the 'very idea that a building of 90,000 square feet can be called a home' seems 'at the least a significant distortion of building code', ABC reported. 

Scroll down for video 

Kicking off a trend: Experts believe the boom for LA giga-mansions began with the 2011 sale of TV producer Aaron Spelling's 56,000-square-foot home (pictured) in Holmby Hills for $85million. They also say only 30 to 40 per cent of giga-mansion buyers are foreign

+21

Kicking off a trend: Experts believe the boom for LA giga-mansions began with the 2011 sale of TV producer Aaron Spelling's 56,000-square-foot home (pictured) in Holmby Hills for $85million. They also say only 30 to 40 per cent of giga-mansion buyers are foreign

'Too big': This sprawling residence, dubbed Palazzo di Amore (the Palace of Love), in Beverly Crest, is among numerous giga-mansions in Los Angeles's Beverly Hills and Bel Air neighborhoods, have sparked outrage among wealthy locals, including actress Jennifer Aniston

+21

'Too big': This sprawling residence, dubbed Palazzo di Amore (the Palace of Love), in Beverly Crest, is among numerous giga-mansions in Los Angeles's Beverly Hills and Bel Air neighborhoods, have sparked outrage among wealthy locals, including actress Jennifer Aniston

 

Aniston, 46, told city officials that the ' very idea that a building of 90,000 square feet can be called a home' seems 'at the least a significant distortion of building code'.

+21

Developer Mohamed Hadid specializes in building enormous mansions

+21

Housing feud: Aniston (left), 46, told city officials that the ' very idea that a building of 90,000 square feet can be called a home' seems 'at the least a significant distortion of building code'. Right, developer Mohamed Hadid, who specializes in building enormous mansions

A lot smaller: Aniston's $21million mansion (above) in Bel Air - which she shares with fiancé Justin Theroux - covers 8,500 square feet

+21

A lot smaller: Aniston's $21million mansion (above) in Bel Air - which she shares with fiancé Justin Theroux - covers 8,500 square feet

One home to have angered residents is a 30,000-square-foot creation of real estate developer and model Gigi Hadid's father, Mohamed Hadid.

Hadid, also the ex-husband of 'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' Yolanda Foster, is erecting the glass, steel and cement mansion in Beverley Hills.

At 103 feet tall, it stands 67 feet above Los Angeles's 36-foot height limit, and has been nicknamed the Starship Enterprise by fuming neighbors.

When completed, the circular-shaped creation will sit just yards away from entertainment attorney Joe Horacek's door, ABC's Nightline reported.

'I feel the privacy is completely and totally gone,' Horacek told the program, which airs at 12.3am (EST) on Friday night.

In an interview with the New York Times, the prolific developer added: '[Hadid's] violated just about every regulation that applies.' 

To construct the property, which will feature two wine cellars and an infinity pool when completed, Hadid has excavated enormous amounts of soil from the hillside surrounding Horacek's home. This has left the attorney concerned that the giga-mansion could end up 'crumbling' on top of his own house.

Last November, city officials revoked Hadid's permits after residents' complaints led them to discover that the developer had added some unapproved features to the mansion. Hadid has since returned to the approved building design, meaning he can finish the project - to Horacek's and others' anger.

According to Nightline, Hadid himself lives in a 50,000-square-foot mansion in Beverly Hills with a ballroom, a Turkish bath and a huge infinity pool. 

A close view: One home to have angered locals is a 30,000-square-foot creation of Hadid, which has been nicknamed the Starship Enterprise by fuming neighbors. When completed, the circular-shaped creation will sit just yards away from entertainment attorney Joe Horacek's door. Above, Horacek (left) shows a Nightline reporter how the close the giga-mansion (in the background) is to his house

+21

A close view: One home to have angered locals is a 30,000-square-foot creation of Hadid, which has been nicknamed the Starship Enterprise by fuming neighbors. When completed, the circular-shaped creation will sit just yards away from entertainment attorney Joe Horacek's door. Above, Horacek (left) shows a Nightline reporter how the close the giga-mansion (in the background) is to his house

Record price: Last year, the Palazzo di Amore (pictured), which Hadid built with the aid of architect Bob Ray Offenhauser and designer Alberto Pint, went on the market for a staggering $195million - making it the most expensive house publicly listed for sale in the U.S..

+21

Record price: Last year, the Palazzo di Amore (pictured), which Hadid built with the aid of architect Bob Ray Offenhauser and designer Alberto Pint, went on the market for a staggering $195million - making it the most expensive house publicly listed for sale in the U.S..

Sprawling: The villa features more than 35,000 square feet of living space, including an entertainment complex and a ballroom (pictured)

+21

Sprawling: The villa features more than 35,000 square feet of living space, including an entertainment complex and a ballroom (pictured)

Safari theme: The covered portico overlooking a huge reflecting pool makes the space feel like a safari lodge when the sheer  are drawn

+21

Safari theme: The covered portico overlooking a huge reflecting pool makes the space feel like a safari lodge when the sheer are drawn

 

 

The giga-mansion features a 128-foot-long reflecting pool with fountains, It also includes a Turkish bath

Jaw-dropping features: The giga-mansion features a 128-foot-long reflecting pool with fountains (seen left), and a Turkish bath (right)

Last year, a gated 25-acre estate, dubbed 'Palazzo di Amore' (Palace of Love), that the developer built with the aid of architect Bob Ray Offenhauser and designer Alberto Pint went on the market for a staggering $195million - making it the most expensive house publicly listed for sale in the U.S..

The sprawling villa features more than 35,000 square feet of living space, including a two-story entrance hall with two sweeping staircases.

It also includes a 15,000-square-foot entertainment complex, complete with a disco/ballroom, a revolving dance floor, a DJ booth and a laser system. 

Inside the entertainment area, up to 250 guests can make use of a 50-seat theater, a bowling alley and a game room under hand-painted ceilings.

They can exit the complex via a floating-style, glass-floor pathway, which sits over several swimming pools lined by 70-year-old olive trees. 

A grand home: Hadid himself lives in this 50,000-square-foot mansion (pictured) in Beverly Hills with a ballroom and a huge infinity pool

+21

A grand home: Hadid himself lives in this 50,000-square-foot mansion (pictured) in Beverly Hills with a ballroom and a huge infinity pool

 

Plenty of space: In addition to the ballroom, which can seat 300 people, Hadid's home also includes an ornate Turkish bath (right)

Hadid (second right), the ex-husband of 'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' Yolanda Foster, is pictured with his daughter Gigi (second left), as well as Shiva Safai (far left) and Alana Hadid (far right) at the grand opening at Royal Personal Training on January 29 in Los Angeles

+21

Hadid (second right), the ex-husband of 'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' Yolanda Foster, is pictured with his daughter Gigi (second left), as well as Shiva Safai (far left) and Alana Hadid (far right) at the grand opening at Royal Personal Training on January 29 in Los Angeles

Enormous: The majority of the people who purchase LA giga-mansions (such as this one) are either local, rich professionals or stars

+21

Enormous: The majority of the people who purchase LA giga-mansions (such as this one) are either local, rich professionals or stars

Once outside, residents can swim in a 128-foot reflecting pool, relax in a Turkish-style spa, walk through formal gardens and play on a tennis court. 

They can also visit a beautiful vineyard, which produces 400 to 500 cases of wine a year under its own private label, the LA Times reported.

In defense of his current giga-mansion project next to Horacek's home, Hadid said: 'There is a need for it, there are customers asking for it. They want to have a splash, to have 200-300 people at a party, they need to have several bar areas, an outdoor area, something specific that is different.'

But many celebrities and wealthy professionals disagree that the neighborhoods of Beverly Hills and Bel Air 'need' giga-mansions.

Fred Rosen, who built Ticketmaster, recently set up the Bel-Air Homeowners Alliance after witnessing enormous properties spring up around him.

He told Nightline that construction trucks are constantly driving through the exclusive neighborhood, while dirt continues to be dug out of the hillside. 

Construction work: In many cases, McMansions are torn down, so that bigger, more pricey properties can be built in their place (above)

+21

Construction work: In many cases, McMansions are torn down, so that bigger, more pricey properties can be built in their place (above)

+21

'Ruining the area': Fred Rosen, who built Ticketmaster, recently set up the Bel-Air Homeowners Alliance after witnessing enormous properties spring up around him, like Palazzo di Amore (pictured). He said construction trucks are constantly driving through the area

+21

'Ruining the area': Fred Rosen, who built Ticketmaster, recently set up the Bel-Air Homeowners Alliance after witnessing enormous properties spring up around him, like Palazzo di Amore (pictured). He said construction trucks are constantly driving through the area

Indeed, the alliance's latest petition, which aims to get two control ordinances passed in the city, reads: 'The excavation and hauling of dirt has been the single largest risk to the health and safety of residents in Bel Air and is endured on a day to day basis on our city streets. The result of the digging and hauling is that we have literally thousands of unsafe truck trips up and down our narrow streets and roads placing residents in danger.' 

Maureen Levinson, who lives down the road from a 90,000-square-foot Bel Air mansion which is still being built, is a member of the alliance. 'There’s wildlife here, and that’s the way Bel Air used to be, very peaceful and quiet,' she told Nightline, comparing the construction trucks to 'freight trains'.

The 90,000 square foot home will be the largest in the neighborhood, with 'a cantilevered tennis court and five swimming pools', according to The Los Angeles Business Journal. Mr Rosen said this will likely mean up to '200 construction trucks a day' driving through the area in upcoming months.

The property, which was dreamed up by film producer-turned-developer Nile Niami, is expected to sell for around $150million once completed.

Tour of $135m Beverly Hills 'Godfather' mansion (related)

Saudi Arabian prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (pictured) plans to erect a massive 85,000-square-foot mansion in Los Angeles. But Fred Rosen says the excavation and hauling of dirt to build such mansions is a safety risk to residents

Opposing views: Saudi Arabian prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (left) plans to erect a massive 85,000-square-foot mansion in Los Angeles. But Rosen (right) says the excavation and hauling of dirt to build such mansions is a safety risk to residents

Other giga-mansion constructions in Bel Air and Beverly Hills include a 70,000- to 80,000-square-foot Mediterranean estate that is being built for a Qatar national, and plans by Saudi Arabian prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud to erect a massive 85,000-square-foot mansion.

The prince's proposal was immediately met with anger by Bel Air residents, and city officials are currently reviewing it, the Times reported. 

Experts believe the boom for giga-mansions began with the 2011 sale of TV producer Aaron Spelling's 56,000-square-feet home for $85million. 

They also say only 30 to 40 per cent of giga-mansion buyers are foreign - the majority are either local, rich professionals or stars. 

In many cases, McMansions are torn down, so that much bigger, more expensive properties can be built in their place. 

 

Has the collapse of the Russian economy finally hit the super-rich? Sumptuous palaces owned by oligarchs begin to appear on Moscow's property market for £70million

  • 97-acre estate in capital's 'Beverly Hills' has nine bedrooms, two swimming pools, spa and custom chaise lounge
  • Fully-furnished golden palace is one of several for sale in Rublyovka suburb, with others costing £85m and £98m
  • But buyers have been put off by rouble's collapse and economic woes, with many buying homes outside Russia
  • And in normal Moscow supermarkets, shelves are bare as Russia bans imports from sanction-imposing nations

 

It looks like a glittering golden palace fit for a Russian tsar, and its appearance on the Moscow property market is perhaps a sign of the crisis facing the super-rich amid the rouble's collapse.

With nine sumptuous bedrooms, Baroque-style living areas and two swimming pools - as well as being decorated with gold throughout - this home looks almost too lavish for royalty.

Chandeliers hang from the ceilings and every room is fitted with exclusive custom-made ornate furniture, with the mansion sitting amid towering pine trees in its own 97 acres.

Scroll down for video

Fit for an oligarch: This sumptuous palace is for sale in Moscow's most elite suburb - and is only the third most expensive on the market

+21

Fit for an oligarch: This sumptuous palace is for sale in Moscow's most elite suburb - and is only the third most expensive on the market

Luxury: The £70million estate has 97 acres of pine forest and custom-made furniture, with copious amounts of decorative gold throughout

+21

Luxury: The £70million estate has 97 acres of pine forest and custom-made furniture, with copious amounts of decorative gold throughout

Excess: The luxury of the mansion, including its snooker room, is a testament to the eye-watering wealth of some in post-Soviet Russia

+21

Excess: The luxury of the mansion, including its snooker room, is a testament to the eye-watering wealth of some in post-Soviet Russia

But all this luxury comes at a price, with only billionaire oligarchs - many of whom have suffered mega losses due to the rouble fall - likely to be able to afford the hefty $109 million (£70 million) price tag.

Located in Russia's 'Beverly Hills', it is described by estate agents as being 'in the style of the country estates of the European aristocracy'.

The identity of the seller is not disclosed.

In its sales material Sotheby's International Realty states: 'The interiors are reminiscent of Baroque palaces.

'The rooms have a lot of gold, natural stone and precious wood. In some rooms the floors are made of natural marble and the billiard room and library are solid oak and mahogany.'

The 'golden palace' is located in the prestigious Rublyovka suburb in Moscow, where A-listers reside and property prices are some of the highest in the world.

Snug: One of the house's nine bedrooms is themed entirely in red, black and gold, even down to the colours of the wooden floor

+21

Snug: One of the house's nine bedrooms is themed entirely in red, black and gold, even down to the colours of the wooden floor

Luxury: The walk-in shower, set on a central marble plinth, is big enough for an oligarch and a few mistresses for good measure

+21

Luxury: The walk-in shower, set on a central marble plinth, is big enough for an oligarch and a few mistresses for good measure

Tub: Even the bathrooms do not escape the marble, chandeliers and gold. The collapse of the rouble raises doubts over the home's future

+21

Tub: Even the bathrooms do not escape the marble, chandeliers and gold. The collapse of the rouble raises doubts over the home's future

Panelling: The study has hints of James Bond. The suburb of Rublyovka, where the mansion is, became a Beverly Hills in the 1990s

+21

Panelling: The study has hints of James Bond. The suburb of Rublyovka, where the mansion is, became a Beverly Hills in the 1990s

Entertaining: Should you buy the palace, there is ample enough room to invite round all your oligarch friends for caviar and fizz

+21

Entertaining: Should you buy the palace, there is ample enough room to invite round all your oligarch friends for caviar and fizz

The three-storey main residence, which has similarities to a modern French chateau, has 2,300 square metres of living space.

Inside, the bedrooms are particularly notable, with each one dripping in gold and decorated in a different style. Some feature four-poster beds, while others boast expensive works of art on the walls, but all resemble presidential suites in luxury hotels.

One of the main living areas contains a grand piano, while the spa and massage zone has hints of Arabia about its decor. Swimmers taking advantage of the larger indoor swimming pool will notice the Sistine Chapel-esque painting on the ceiling.

The mansion comes completely fully-furnished, with some of the pieces made by European cabinet makers.

Rublyovka, in pleasant woodland on one side of the Moscow River, became a Russian equivalent of Beverly Hills in the 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The western suburb quickly became home to billionaire oligarchs, showbusiness stars, government officials and industry tycoons.

Bedecked: The mansion comes completely fully-furnished, with some of the pieces made by European cabinet makers

+21

Bedecked: The mansion comes completely fully-furnished, with some of the pieces made by European cabinet makers

Arabesque: There are hints of the exotic in the house's swimming pool and spa rooms, with patterned tiles and teapots

+21

Arabesque: There are hints of the exotic in the house's swimming pool and spa rooms, with patterned tiles and teapots

Entertaining: In the dining room, it's difficult to check one's reflection in the mirror on the left without an expensive vase getting in the way

+21

Entertaining: In the dining room, it's difficult to check one's reflection in the mirror on the left without an expensive vase getting in the way

Reception room: With thick padded walls, the space where guests are invited for an introductory drink has the air of a Swiss bank vault

+21

Reception room: With thick padded walls, the space where guests are invited for an introductory drink has the air of a Swiss bank vault

Welcome: The entrance hall boasts one of the house's most opulent chandeliers, dangling over a central table and viewing gallery

+21

Welcome: The entrance hall boasts one of the house's most opulent chandeliers, dangling over a central table and viewing gallery

As well as expensive properties, the area also boasts exclusive boutique shops and sports clubs frequented by the rich and famous.

As an indication of the exclusivity of the neighbourhood, the golden palace is not even the most expensive on the market, with others commanding higher prices.

Ilya Menzhutov, director of the elite real estate company Metrium Grupp, said: 'It is by far not the most expensive house in Rublyovka.

'As of today, there is at least two houses that outrun the mansion in price. One of them is $130million (£85million) and the other is $150 million (£98million).

'Moreover, the most expensive estate is not in the famous Rublyovka but off the Skolkovskoye highway, where the buyer will have to pay $200 million (£130million).'

 

The house is not even the most expensive one for sale in the elite neighbourhood - others are priced at £85million and £98million

+21

The house is not even the most expensive one for sale in the elite neighbourhood - others are priced at £85million and £98million

Golden: The rise of the super-rich in Russia was at its peak in the 1990s as former nationalised industries were sold to private investors

+21

Golden: The rise of the super-rich in Russia was at its peak in the 1990s as former nationalised industries were sold to private investors

Music: One of the rooms has a grand piano with wooden inlays, in case the creative urge decides to hit the home's wealthy owner

+21

Music: One of the rooms has a grand piano with wooden inlays, in case the creative urge decides to hit the home's wealthy owner

Some of the bedrooms boast expensive works of art on the walls, and all resemble presidential suites in luxury hotels in the west

+21

Some of the bedrooms boast expensive works of art on the walls, and all resemble presidential suites in luxury hotels in the west

As well as the mansion (pictured), the area also boasts exclusive boutique shops and sports clubs frequented by the rich and famous

+21

As well as the mansion (pictured), the area also boasts exclusive boutique shops and sports clubs frequented by the rich and famous

Estate agents in Moscow are divided on how well such homes will sell at the moment, particularly amid the rouble crisis and Russia's slide towards recession.

In its November review on the premium market, before the latest slump, IntermarkSavills suggested that the fall of the currency was becoming critically important.

After its collapse, the official rate is around 60 roubles to the dollar. Many estate agents are now advertising their prices in dollars - or setting a fixed rate of 37 to 45 roubles to the dollar, said Nina Reznichenko, the head of suburban real estate department at IntermarkSavills.

'Clients have also reacted to such dramatic changes almost immediately: negotiations are getting longer, and the majority of purchases are made in below $2million segment.'.

Tweed estate agents say the buyers of the most expensive properties have been put off by the currency problems.

Just a few miles away in Moscow's supermarkets, the nation's economic woes take a very different form - with shelves stripped bare thanks to economic sanctions.

Russia has banned cheese imports from nations which are imposing sanctions - including Germany, the Netherlands, France, Poland and Lithuania - and chicken imports from the U.S. amid growing international tension over its involvement in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, in real life: Bare Moscow supermarket shelves yesterday after Russia banned imports from sanction-imposing countries

+21

Meanwhile, in real life: Bare Moscow supermarket shelves yesterday after Russia banned imports from sanction-imposing countries

The Kremlin has banned imported chicken from the U.S. in response to the economic sanctions it has imposed after the Ukraine crisis

+21

The Kremlin has banned imported chicken from the U.S. in response to the economic sanctions it has imposed after the Ukraine crisis

Also banned is cheese from Germany, the Netherlands, France, Poland and Lithuania, with people buying cheeses from Argentina instead

+21

Also banned is cheese from Germany, the Netherlands, France, Poland and Lithuania, with people buying cheeses from Argentina instead

 

 

 

 

 

 




 

 

 

 

The silent halls of a forgotten era: Inside the magnificent empty spaces of Europe's grandiose palaces

They were once filled with courtiers, kings, and other members of the aristocracy. But stunning images capture the silent galleries, corridors, and libraries of Europe in a whole new light.

Captured by Italian photographer Massimo Listri, the images span from Portugal to Sweden, France, and Italy, and show the intricate masterworks from ages past.

His images evoke a certain solemnity, both beautiful and isolating at once.

Included in his portfolio are pictures from the library of Wiblingen Abbey, which was once a Benedictine abbey and has since been transformed into housing medical facilities for the University of Ulm in Germany.

Another image shows the the Malatestiana Library, located in Cesena, Italy, which was the first European civil library that allowed everyone -including the common people - access to its books.

Sounds of silence: These images of grand halls have been captured by Italian photographer Massimo Listri; here, the Royal Palace of Stockholm in Sweden

Sounds of silence: These images of grand halls have been captured by Italian photographer Massimo Listri; here, the Royal Palace of Stockholm in Sweden

Royalty: Another vast room from the Royal Palace in Stockholm; the Swedish monarchy still resides here today

Royalty: Another vast room from the Royal Palace in Stockholm; the Swedish monarchy still resides here today

Rococo: The Queluz National Palace in Lisbon, Portugal was built in the 18th century; the grand checkered marble floors are juxtaposed against a chandelier and and painted murals on the ceiling

Rococo: The Queluz National Palace in Lisbon, Portugal was built in the 18th century; the grand checkered marble floors are juxtaposed against a chandelier and and painted murals on the ceiling

Wiblingen

Room with a view: Wiblingen Abbey, once a Benedictine abbey, has since been transformed into housing medical facilities for the University of Ulm in Germany; this is a stunning shot of the abbey's beautiful library

Monochrome: One of two Medici Chapels, located in the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence, Italy; the structure dates to around the 16th century

Monochrome: One of two Medici Chapels, located in the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence, Italy; the structure dates to around the 16th century

All made of marble: The Marble Gallery in the Ducal Palace in Northern Italy is a hauntingly beautiful reminder of times gone by

All made of marble: The Marble Gallery in the Ducal Palace in Northern Italy is a hauntingly beautiful reminder of times gone by

From antiquity: The Malatestiana Library, located in Cesena, Italy, was the first European civil library, allowing everyone access to its books, and is more than 500 years old

From antiquity: The Malatestiana Library, located in Cesena, Italy, was the first European civil library, allowing everyone access to its books, and is more than 500 years old

Less austere: This room in the Palazzo Martelli in Florence shows a painted mural on the wall, but a room void of furniture, save for one lone wooden table

Less austere: This room in the Palazzo Martelli in Florence shows a painted mural on the wall, but a room void of furniture, save for one lone wooden table

Roman holiday: This is a corridor from the Capitoline Museums, located in Capitoline Hill in Rome; part of the piazza was thought of by none other than famed Renaissance artist Michelangelo

Roman holiday: This is a corridor from the Capitoline Museums, located in Capitoline Hill in Rome; part of the piazza was thought of by none other than famed Renaissance artist Michelangelo

Hollywood aspirations: A room from the Chateau de Pierrefonds in Oise, France, north of Paris; it later became a filming location for the 1998 film Man In The Iron Mask

Hollywood aspirations: A room from the Chateau de Pierrefonds in Oise, France, north of Paris; it later became a filming location for the 1998 film Man In The Iron Mask

Wealth of knowledge: The stunning library from Kresmunster Abbey in Austria was built in the late 1600s, though the abbey's history predates the 9th century

Wealth of knowledge: The stunning library from Kresmunster Abbey in Austria was built in the late 1600s, though the abbey's history predates the 9th century

Intricate: Sammezzano Castle, built in 1605, is in the scenic Tuscany region of Italy and features Moorish designs throughout

Intricate: Sammezzano Castle, built in 1605, is in the scenic Tuscany region of Italy and features Moorish designs throughout

Wide halls: The Palace of Caserta, located in southern Italy, was built for the kings of Naples, and has the honour of being one of the largest built in Europe during the 18th century

Wide halls: The Palace of Caserta, located in southern Italy, was built for the kings of Naples, and has the honour of being one of the largest built in Europe during the 18th century

Other-worldly: The Gallery Grande is part of the Palace of Venaria, located in Turin, Italy, built in the later part of the 17th century; the stark contrast and diffused light gives it a ghostly glow

Other-worldly: The Gallery Grande is part of the Palace of Venaria, located in Turin, Italy, built in the later part of the 17th century; the stark contrast and diffused light gives it a ghostly glow

Trade paths: The General Archive of the Indies, in Seville, Spain, was built in the 1570s; a lone cannon lays on the floor of the arched library

Trade paths: The General Archive of the Indies, in Seville, Spain, was built in the 1570s; a lone cannon lays on the floor of the arched library

 

 

 

 

Archaeologists believe they have found the palace of Odysseus, the legendary Greek king of Ithaca and hero of Homer's epic poem.

They believe that the 8th BC century palace which they have discovered in Ithaca, in the Ionian Seas west of mainland Greece, proves that he was a real historical figure.

It is the only one of the palaces mentioned in Homer’s epic poems that hadn’t been found.

discovery of the palace of ulysses

Greek archaeologists believe they have found an eight century BC palace on the island of Ithaca, fuelling theories that the hero of Homer's epic poem was real. The excavations have been made in the Aghios Athanassios area of the Ionian island

The story of the King of Ithaca's 10 year journey home is an enduring classic - now it seems that, if nothing else, his home really existed

Legend: The story of the King of Ithaca's ten-year journey home is an enduring classic - now it seems that his home really existed

For many years, Homer's other epic The Iliad - telling the story of the protracted siege of Troy by the Greeks which culminated in the deployment of their Wooden Horse ruse - was regarded as a myth.

But then in the 1870s, the German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann rediscovered the city in modern-day Turkey.

The views from the ruins found on the island of Ithaca by the University of Ioannina are exactly as described in The Odyssey, says Professor Thanassis Papadopoulos who led the team.

Known to the ancient Romans as Ulysses, the Greek hero famously took ten years to return home to Ithaca after the fall of Troy.

Enlarge

locator for Ithaca

Archaelogists believe the palace which they have discovered in Ithaca, in the Ionian Seas west of mainland Greece, proves that Odysseus - known to the ancient Romans as Ulysses - was a real historical figure

FILM: TROY (2004) BRAD PITT TAKES THE ROLE OF THE LEGENDARY GREEK WARRIOR.

A  WOODEN TROJAN HORSE ON THE FILM SET OF "TROY" ON THE ISLAND OF MALTA.

Warriors such as Achilles (here portrayed by Brad Pitt in the film Troy) were admired by the Greeks but it was Odysseus's cunning, typified by the famous Wooden Horse, that led to the eventual fall of Troy

homer

Legendary: Greek poet Homer

'According to evidence so far, which is extremely significant, and taking under consideration scientific reservations, we believe we are before the palace of Odysseus and Penelope; the only one of the Homeric-era palaces that has not yet been discovered,' said Professor Papadopoulos.

On his journey, he was shipwrecked and encountered many obstacles before returning to Ithaca, where he found his wife, Penelope, under pressure to remarry from a host of suitors. He then has to reassert his rightful place as king.

However Professor Papadopoulos faces an uphill struggle persuading some of his colleagues that he really has discovered the home of Odysseus.

One British researcher, Robert Bittlestone, insists that Homer's description of ancient Ithaca bears little resemblance to the island that now has its name and that Odysseus's kingdom was located on the isle of Cephalonia.

But Adriano La Regina, an Italian archaeologist, has a more pragmatic approach: 'Whether this find has a connection with Ulysses or not is interesting up to a certain point, but more important is the discovery of the royal palace.'

 

 

No comments: