Thursday, October 14, 2010

India’s richest man has moved into world’s biggest private residence

Marking the end of seven years of construction work, India's richest man is planning a housewarming party for his 27-story palatial new home in Mumbai, replete with no fewer than three helipads and an air-traffic control station on its roof.
The 570-foot-tall glass tower, called Antilia, "features a swimming pool, a health club, a salon and a mini-theatre," reports the Times of India. "The first six levels comprise the garage where more than 160 cars can be parked. Atop the parking lot is Antilia's lobby, which has nine elevators." The house also has a garden that can accommodate trees, according to the Telegraph, and a separate ballroom. About 600 staffers will be required to run Antilia, named after the mythical island in the Atlantic.

The house belongs to Mukesh Ambani, who owns much of the oil and retail giant Reliance Industries. He is estimated to be worth about $27 billion. Experts told the Guardian that "there is no other private property of comparable size and prominence in the world." Ambani, the fourth-richest man in the world, co-ran Reliance with his brother before the two had a falling-out and split the company.
Some were surprised at the conspicuous show of wealth, since Ambani is known as a deeply private person not fond of hanging out with India's super-rich. "Perhaps he has been stung by his portrayal in the media as an introvert. Maybe he is making the point that he is a tycoon in his own right," Hamish McDonald, author of the book "Ambani and Sons," speculated in the Guardian.

In a 2008 New York Times profile, friends described the tycoon as something of a contradiction: a cold-blooded businessman whose heart also "bleeds for India." He wants to help pave the way for a better life for the country's poor, they said. A Reliance spokesman told the Times the house would cost about $70 million, but the Guardian says it's closer to $1 billion.

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani's $1-billion new abode 'Antila' may be the costliest home in the world, but it has not found a place in the Forbes' list of most expensive homes as the house is not for sale, the magazine has said.

"Our global list limits itself to homes currently on the market, and Ambani's behemoth isn't for sale," the American business magazine has said in a commentary on India's richest man Mukesh Ambani's plans to move into his new 27-storey skyscraper in Mumbai later this month.

Meanwhile, UK's Daily Mail has reported that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and many others have been invited for Antila's house warming party later this month.

RIL spokesperson could not be contacted for comments.
"Among the guests is Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has previously called on business tycoons to be role models of moderation," Daily Mail said.

Noting that the huge gap between the price-tag of Antilla, the new home of Reliance Industries chairman, and the other top-priced homes across the world, Forbes said: "The last time Forbes ranked the world's most expensive homes was November 2009, when The Manor, Candy Spelling's Beverly Hills mansion, won out - it was priced at $150 million.

"That home is still for sale, and its price hasn't budged, qualifying it for the number one spot on our recent list of America's most expensive homes," it added.

Noting that the global list was a year old and new mansions may have come on the market since then, Forbes said that still "at $1 billion, the Antila outprices any home on the market, anywhere in the world, by an order of magnitude."

The magazine noted that the home "likely sets a record as the world's most expensive residential home."

Forbes said that Ambani began work on this home years ago when "he was worth $43 billion (his net worth is down by nearly a third)."

"Now fully constructed, it's the most ever spent on a home that we know of. In June the world's richest man, telecommunications billionaire Carlos Slim Helu paid $44 million for an Upper East Side Beaux Arts town house. One could interpret the two tycoons' recent moves as a billionaire version of keeping-up-with-the-Joneses.

"If that’s the case, Ambani won by a long shot," it added.

Recently, Forbes magazine predicted that Ambani, currently the fourth richest globally, would overtake Slim as the world's richest person in 2014.

"Given the enormous gap between the Antila's sale price and the known closing cost of any home sold in recent years, there's an awfully good chance that this is the most paid for a home, ever," Forbes said.

It added that the highest price paid for a home in 2010 was somewhere between $47 million and $72 million for Le Belvedere in Bel Air.

According to Forbes, Mukesh, along with his wife Nita Ambani, three children and a modest 600-person staff would move to new house.

The house would have facilities like a health club, gym, dance studio, a ballroom, guestrooms, numerous lounges, a 50-seat screening room, an elevated garden, three helipads, and underground parking for 160 vehicles, the magazine noted.