There are a handful of people in the world who can claim their house is worth 1.4 billion euros (B57 billion). But there is only one who can claim his house is made from that amount of money.
That honour goes to Frank Buckley, an unemployed Irish artist who has built a home from the shredded remains of 1.4 billion euros.
He says the abode is a monument to the “madness” he says has been wrought on Ireland by the single currency, from a spectacular construction boom to a wrenching bust.
He built the apartment in the lobby of a Dublin office building that has lain vacant since its completion four years ago at the peak of an ill-fated construction boom, using bricks of shredded defunct euro notes he borrowed from Ireland’s national mint.
“It’s a reflection of the whole madness that gripped us,” Buckley said of what he calls his “billion-euro home”.
“People were pouring billions into buildings now worth nothing,” he said. “I wanted to create something from nothing.”
After Ireland joined the currency zone in the early 2002, a wave of cheap credit helped fuel a huge property bubble that transformed the country. The bubble’s collapse since 2007 plunged Ireland into the deepest recession in the industrialised world.
Buckley says he was given a 100 per cent mortgage at the peak of the boom to
buy a 365,000 euro (B15 million) home on the outer reaches of Dublin’s commuter belt, despite the fact he had no steady income.
He has since separated from his wife, who lives in the home which has now lost at least one-third of its value.
Living in his ‘billion euro home’ since the start of December, Buckley is working on adding a kitchen to the living room and hall.
The walls and floor are covered in euro shreddings and the house is so warm Buckley says he can sleep without a blanket.
Pictures made from notes and coins decorate the walls, including one of a house, made from Irish 5 pence pieces.
“There are houses in Ireland worth less than that,” Buckley quips.
Buckley said he wants Europe’s politicians to solve the euro zone debt crisis without destroying its currency. But if the currency ultimately fails, he will happily use the euro zone’s defunct notes as fodder for future projects.
“Whatever you say about the euro, it’s a great insulator.”