BUSINESS

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Saturday, July 4, 2015

BLACK DEATH SPREAD BY airborne and had TO BE by coughs and sneezes

 

 

BLACK DEATH SPREAD BY airborne and had TO BE by coughs and sneezes

  • Scientists have been examining skeletons of plague victims unearthed in Clerkenwell, London
  • They compared DNA taken from the bones with samples from a recent outbreak in Madagascar which killed 60 people
  • The two samples were an almost perfect match, meaning the 14th century plague was no more virulent than it is today
  • They now believe that the disease was airborne and had to have been spread by coughs and sneezes

It has long been thought the Black Death, the plague that decimated the population of Britain in the mid-14th century, was spread by fleas carried on rats.

However, 25 skeletons recently unearthed in Clerkenwell, London, believed to be of plague victims, have cast doubt on this age-old theory and provided evidence that they deadly disease may have, in fact, been airborne.

The DNA of the remains was compared to samples from an outbreak in Madagascar, in 2012, which killed 60 people.

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New theory: Analysis of skeletons discovered in London believed to be victims of the Black Death suggests the disease was not spread by rat fleas, but was in fact airborne

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New theory: Analysis of skeletons discovered in London believed to be victims of the Black Death suggests the disease was not spread by rat fleas, but was in fact airborne

DNA of plague bacteria taken from the 25 skeletons discovered in Clerkenwell was compared to samples from a recent outbreak in Madagascar which killed 60 people

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Skeletons found by construction workers under central London's Charterhouse Square

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DNA of plague bacteria taken from the 25 skeletons discovered in Clerkenwell was compared to samples from a recent outbreak in Madagascar which killed 60 people

The remains were discovered during excavations of Charterhouse Square in Farringdon, London, an area of the capital left largely undisturbed for years

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The remains were discovered during excavations of Charterhouse Square in Farringdon, London, an area of the capital left largely undisturbed for years

The scientists were shocked to discover that the two samples were an almost perfect match, meaning the 14th century plague was no more virulent than it is today.

They believe that for such a disease to have spread so quickly and cause so much damage it must have been spread by coughs and sneezes, getting into the lungs of its already weak and malnourished victims.

Dr Tim Brooks from Public Health England in Porton Down where the research was carried out, told the Guardian: 'As an explanation [rat fleas] for the Black Death in its own right, it simply isn't good enough. 'It cannot spread fast enough from one household to the next to cause the huge number of cases that we saw during the Black Death epidemics.'

It means that rather than being a bubonic plague it was in fact pneumonic meaning it was spread from human to human, rather than by flea bites.

The skeletons of 13 men, three women and two children, as well as seven other unidentifiable remains, were found under Charterhouse Square in Farringdon during excavation work for the £14.8 billion Crossrail project.

The DNA samples, which were extracted from the molar teeth of the skeletons, have also revealed intriguing details about the individual victims.

The researchers were shocked to discover that the two samples were an almost perfect match, meaning the 14th century plague was no more virulent than it is today

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The researchers were shocked to discover that the two samples were an almost perfect match, meaning the 14th century plague was no more virulent than it is today

The DNA samples, which were extracted from the molar teeth of the skeletons, have also revealed intriguing details of the victims' lives

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The DNA samples, which were extracted from the molar teeth of the skeletons, have also revealed intriguing details of the victims' lives

Don Walker, an osteologist with the Museum of London with one of the 25 skeletons found by construction workers under central London's Charterhouse Square last year

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Don Walker, an osteologist with the Museum of London with one of the 25 skeletons found by construction workers under central London's Charterhouse Square last year

Researchers found that four in 10 Londoners killed during the epidemic grew up in other parts of Britain, making the medieval residents of London just as cosmopolitan as they are today.

Experts said the discovery of the skeletons was 'significant', saying that thousands more bodies could have been laid to rest in a mass grave in the area - which at the time was outside of the city boundaries.

Don Walker, an osteologist with the Museum of London, outlined the biography of one man whose ancient bones were found by construction workers under London's Charterhouse Square.

He was breast-fed as a baby, moved to London from another part of England, had bad tooth decay in childhood, grew up to work as a laborer, and died in early adulthood from the bubonic plague that ravaged Europe in the 14th century.

The poor man's life was nasty, brutish and short, but his afterlife is long and illuminating.

'It's fantastic we can look in such detail at an individual who died 600 years ago,' Walker said. 'It's incredible, really.'

Radiocarbon dating and analysis of pottery shards helped determine when the burials took place. Forensic geophysics - more commonly used in murder and war-crimes investigations - helped locate more graves under the square. Studying oxygen and strontium isotopes in the bones revealed details of diet and health.

Archaeologists were surprised to discover that the skeletons lay in layers and appeared to come from three different periods: the original Black Death epidemic in 1348-1350, and later outbreaks in 1361 and the early 15th century.

'It suggests that the burial ground was used again and again for the burial of plague victims,' said Jay Carver, Crossrail's lead archaeologist.

Bring out your dead: The Black Death decimated the population of Britain in the mid 14th century killing an estimated six of 10 londoners

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Bring out your dead: The Black Death decimated the population of Britain in the mid 14th century killing an estimated six of 10 londoners

The new finding have come from comparing DNA from teeth of the skeletons to samples from a recent plague outbreak in Madagascar

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The new finding have come from comparing DNA from teeth of the skeletons to samples from a recent plague outbreak in Madagascar

The excavation work was being carried out in order to make way for the new Crossrail train line

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The excavation work was being carried out in order to make way for the new Crossrail train line

The Black Death is thought to have killed at least 75 million people, including half of Britain's population, yet the burials suggest a surprisingly high degree of social order - at first.

As the plague ravaged continental Europe, city fathers leased land for an emergency burial ground. The burials were simple but orderly, the bodies wrapped in shrouds and laid out in neat rows, sealed with a layer of clay.

The later skeletons, however, show more signs of upper-body injuries, consistent with a period of lawlessness and social breakdown.

Many of the bodies showed signs of poor health, the experts said. A high rate of back damage also suggested they had jobs involving heavy manual labour.

The remains also revealed that one of the bodies could have been that of a monk - after showing signs of vegetarianism in later life, which is something a Carthusian monk would have done during the 14th century.

One of the skeletons showed evidence of malnutrition and a large variation of diet 30 years prior to death, coinciding with the Great Famine of 1315 to 1317.

Six out of 10 sets of remains analysed were from people born and bred in London. But four had moved from further afield - presumably seeking work - from the southeast of England, central England or the east of England and one from northern England or Scotland.

Mr Carver said: 'This is probably the first time in modern archaeological investigation that we have finally found evidence for a burial ground in this area which potentially contains thousands of victims from the Black Death and potentially later plague events as well.

'Historical documents suggest the burial ground was established for poor strangers. There is no doubt from the osteological work that the individuals buried here were not the wealthy classes, and they are representing the typical Londoner.'

Six out of 10 bodies analysed were born and bred in London. But four had come from further afield - presumably seeking work - from the South East of England, central England or the East of England and one from northern England or Scotland

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Six out of 10 bodies analysed were born and bred in London. But four had come from further afield - presumably seeking work - from the South East of England, central England or the East of England and one from northern England or Scotland

The remains also revealed that one of the bodies could have been that of a monk - after showing signs of vegetarianism in later life, which is something a Carthusian monk would have done during the 14th century

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The remains also revealed that one of the bodies could have been that of a monk - after showing signs of vegetarianism in later life, which is something a Carthusian monk would have done during the 14th century

Archaeologist Jay Carver said: 'Analysis of the Crossrail find has revealed an extraordinary amount of information allowing us to solve a 660-year mystery'

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Archaeologist Jay Carver said: 'Analysis of the Crossrail find has revealed an extraordinary amount of information allowing us to solve a 660-year mystery'

He added: 'Analysis of the Crossrail find has revealed an extraordinary amount of information allowing us to solve a 660-year mystery. This discovery is a hugely important step forward in documenting and understanding Europe's most devastating pandemic.'

Forensic geophysics techniques have shown that there are potentially more burials across Charterhouse Square.

In July this year a 'community excavation project' will take place to try to determine the extent of the cemetery.

A similar skeleton formation was found in a Black Death burial site in nearby east Smithfield in the 1980s. Experts are now planning to compare the data gathered from the two burial sites.

The findings will be featured in a new Channel 4 programme, Return Of The Black Death, which will be aired at 8pm on April 6.

Crossrail's lead archeologist Jay Carver inspecting the skeleton of a Black Plague victim

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Twenty-five skeletons where discovered

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Crossrail's lead archeologist Jay Carver inspecting one of the 25 skeletons, left. Research has shown that the burial ground was established in 1348

 

 

 

 

Did the Black Death start out as a harmless bug? Genetic mutation may have transformed bacteria into deadly disease that swept medieval Europe

  • Addition of a protein in Yersinia pestis, bacteria responsible for plague, may have transformed gastrointestinal infection into a strain of disease
  • The study also suggests that similar minor genetic tweaks could produce new respiratory diseases which could be just as catastrophic

A subtle genetic mutation transformed a harmless strain of bacteria into the Black Death that wiped out millions across medieval Europe, new research suggests.

Scientists say the addition of a single protein to Yersinia pestis, the bacteria responsible for the plague, may have been responsible for the devastating pandemic.

The study also suggests that similar genetic tweaks could produce new respiratory diseases that could be just as catastrophic.

The addition of a single protein in Yersinia pestis (stock image pictured) may have transformed what used to be a gastrointestinal infection into a specific strain of what has become known as the plague

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The addition of a single protein in Yersinia pestis (stock image pictured) may have transformed what used to be a gastrointestinal infection into a specific strain of what has become known as the plague

Researchers from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine examined ancestral strains of Y. pestis in mice to understand how it gained the ability to infect lungs and cause the pneumonic plague.

The Black Death that swept 14th century Europe was a blanket term given to three strains of the disease.

THE BLACK DEATH DROVE SURVIVORS TO THE ... PUB

It was the devastating pandemic that wiped out half of medieval Britain’s population.

But the Black Death also had a surprising, and far more cheery, side-effect on our culture.

It inadvertently gave rise to the birth of the English pub as we know it today, according to Robert Tombs, professor of history at Cambridge University.

The Black Death which reached the UK in 1348 and killed millions, was followed by a period of higher wages and a boom in the brewing industry as British resilience shone through.

This resilience even created the opportunity for greater freedom and prosperity.’ Wages rose and prices fell, and the purchasing power of working people hit a new high.

Real incomes shot up by 250 per cent between 1300 and 1450, he said, and reached a level by 1500 that would not be permanently exceeded until the 1880s.

Unlike in most of the rest of Europe, English wages stayed high even when population numbers slowly recovered.

The more widespread bubonic plague affects the lymph nodes, septicemic plague poisons the blood, while the rarer, more virulent pneumonic variant attacks the lungs.

The most obvious symptom of pneumonic plague is coughing, often with blood.

Fever, headache, weakness and rapidly developing pneumonia follow shortly after.

The pneumonia progresses for two to four days and can cause respiratory failure and shock. Without early treatment, patients die within 36 hours.

During the plague of 1348-1350, the plague wiped out two million people in England alone - around 30 to 40 per cent of the country's entire population.

In the study, researchers found that older strains of the bacteria could colonise the lungs without causing the deadly disease.

A specific protein, called Pla, was absent in this particular strand.

When researchers added the protein however, the bacteria gained the ability to cause the often fatal respiratory infection.

No other changes to Y. pestis were required to initiate the disease, even though the bacteria has continued to gain and lose genes over the past several thousand years.

Scientists also looked at variations of the gene Pla and discovered that a single modification was a critical adaptation for the bacteria to spread in the body and infect the lymph nodes, causing the bubonic plague.

Devastating effects: The Black Death that swept 14th century Europe  was a blanket term given to three strains of disease. The more widespread bubonic plague (illustrated)  affected the lymph nodes, septicaemic plague poisoned the blood, while the rarer, more virulent pneumonic variant attacked the lungs

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Devastating effects: The Black Death that swept 14th century Europe was a blanket term given to three strains of disease. The more widespread bubonic plague (illustrated)  affected the lymph nodes, septicaemic plague poisoned the blood, while the rarer, more virulent pneumonic variant attacked the lungs

This suggests that Y.pestis evolved as a respiratory pathogen before it could cause the more common form of disease, bubonic plague.

The new research may explain how the bacteria changed from causing only localised outbreaks to the pandemic spread of the 14th century's Black Death.

Professor Wyndham Lathem, who led the research, said: 'Our findings demonstrate how Y. pestis had the ability to cause a severe respiratory disease very early in its evolution.

'This research helps us better understand how bacteria can adapt to new host environments to cause disease by acquiring small bits of DNA.'

'Our data suggests that the insertion and then subsequent mutation of Pla allowed for new, rapidly evolving strains of disease.

'This information can show how new respiratory pathogens could emerge with only small genetic changes.'

The research was published in Nature Communications.

 

Cyprian Plague victims unearthed in Egypt: Burnt corpses reveal a 3rd century burial plot built to 'prevent the apocalypse'

  • Italian archaeologists have revealed an ancient burial plot in Luxor, Egypt
  • The 3rd century tomb was used to stop the deadly spread of a pandemic
  • The Cyprian Plague killed 5,000 people a day at its peak from 250 to 271 AD
  • The disease was believed to be smallpox, which was eradicated in 1979
  • At the time, St Cyprian said it could signal the 'passing away of the world'

From 250 to 271 AD up to 5,000 people died each day in Rome not from war and famine, but from a deadly pandemic that would later be known as the Plague of Cyprian.

And now archaeologists have found the remains of what appears to be victims of the widespread disease, in a pit in Luxor, Egypt.

Kilns used to produce lime to cover the victims were also found, alongside a bonfire where stricken people were burned in order to stop the spread of the highly infectious disease, dubbed the 'end of worlds' pandemic.

Archaeologists in Egypt have found the remains of victims that were struck down by the Plague pf Cyprian in the latter half of the 3rd century. The victims were burned and covered in lime to prevent the deadly disease from spreading. Here can be seen two skulls, two bricks and a jug at the burial site

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Archaeologists in Egypt have found the remains of victims that were struck down by the Plague pf Cyprian in the latter half of the 3rd century. The victims were burned and covered in lime to prevent the deadly disease from spreading. Here can be seen two skulls, two bricks and a jug at the burial site

The find was made by the Italian Archaeological Mission to Luxor (MAIL) team, reported Live Science.

WHAT WAS SMALLPOX?

Smallpox was an ancient disease caused by the variola virus that resulted in a nasty rash where lesions were filled with fluid and pus.

The highly contagious disease was fatal in up to 30 per cent of cases.

It spread through contact between people and saliva droplets in an infected person's breath.

More than 300 million people died from smallpox in the 20th century alone.

But vaccination campaigns throughout the 19th and 20th centuries ultimately led to its eradication in 1979.

It is one of only two infectious diseases to have been completely destroyed, the other being rinderpest in 2011.

The eradication of smallpox is regarded as one of humanity's greatest accomplishments.

SOURCE: WHO

The team, led by Francesco Tiradritti, excavated the tomb, known as the Funerary Complex of Harwa and Akhimenru, from 1997 until 2012.

The monument had been built for an Egyptian grand steward named Harwa in the 7th century BC and it was continually used until it became a plague-burial site in the 3rd Century AD - and was then never used again. Writing in the Egyptian Archaeology magazine, Tiradritti said using the tomb to dispose of infected corpses ‘gave the monument a lasting bad reputation and doomed it to centuries of oblivion until tomb robbers entered the complex in the early 19th century.’

The Plague of Cyprian raged until 271, by which time it claimed a quarter of Rome’s population - and countless lives elsewhere.

It spread across what is now modern-day Europe and into Africa.

Now believed to have been caused by smallpox, the plague was so devastating that it led the bishop of Carthage at the time, Saint Cyprian for whom the pandemic is named, to lament that it could signal the ‘passing away of the world’.

The find was made at a funerary complex, or tomb, in Luxor, Egypt. In the time of the Romans this city was known as Thebes and, from 250 to 271 AD it, like many other regions, was ravaged by smallpox in a pandemic that is now called the Plague of Cyprian

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The find was made at a funerary complex, or tomb, in Luxor, Egypt. In the time of the Romans this city was known as Thebes and, from 250 to 271 AD it, like many other regions, was ravaged by smallpox in a pandemic that is now called the Plague of Cyprian

The kilns to produce lime to cover the bodies were fuelled by the remains of old wooden coffins, such as the one shown here. The find was made by the Italian Archaeological Mission to Luxor (MAIL) team after 15 years of excavations from 1997 to 2012

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The kilns to produce lime to cover the bodies were fuelled by the remains of old wooden coffins, such as the one shown here. The find was made by the Italian Archaeological Mission to Luxor (MAIL) team after 15 years of excavations from 1997 to 2012

Oil lamps discovered near the lime kilns, shown here, were used by the stokers who kept the kilns burning to see in the dark. Stokers would have had to keep the kilns burning around the clock for several days in order to produce the lime necessary to cover the bodies

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Oil lamps discovered near the lime kilns, shown here, were used by the stokers who kept the kilns burning to see in the dark. Stokers would have had to keep the kilns burning around the clock for several days in order to produce the lime necessary to cover the bodies

Of the plague, Cyprian explained the rather gruesome ways it would ravage its victims in his essay De mortalitate (On the plague).

'The intestines are shaken with a continual vomiting’ and ‘the eyes are on fire with the ejected blood,’ it read.

In some cases victims would also lose limbs to the disease, while many also eventually died.

The remarkable artefacts found by the archaeologists show the level of fear and panic the plague induced in the locals.

This best disinfectant known at the time was lime, which involved heating limestone to huge temperatures of up to 1,000°C (1,800°F).

The large temperatures, though, required huge amounts of fuel, and in order to produce enough  lime to cover all the bodies it seems the locals at the time used coffins, and other artefacts, they found in this tomb to burn.

Bodies were covered with a layer of lime, used as a disinfectant, and kept inside a pillared hallway shown at 1. The three kilns are shown at A, B and C, in part fuelled by both coffin and mummy remains stored at 4. Water was added to the lime at niche 3, while the bonfire to burn the bodies is at 2

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Bodies were covered with a layer of lime, used as a disinfectant, and kept inside a pillared hallway shown at 1. The three kilns are shown at A, B and C, in part fuelled by both coffin and mummy remains stored at 4. Water was added to the lime at niche 3, while the bonfire to burn the bodies is at 2

Here can be seen a close-up view of lime kiln C, which has a double chamber. It was built along with the other two kilns in order to produce enough lime disinfectant to cover the multitude of human remains that had died in the plague that struck the ancient city of Thebes, now Luxor

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Here can be seen a close-up view of lime kiln C, which has a double chamber. It was built along with the other two kilns in order to produce enough lime disinfectant to cover the multitude of human remains that had died in the plague that struck the ancient city of Thebes, now Luxor

Seen here is the location where bodies were stored on the northern aisle of the monument's first pillared hall and covered with lime. The Plague of Cyprian raged until 2071, by which time it claimed a quarter of Rome's population

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Seen here is the location where bodies were stored on the northern aisle of the monument's first pillared hall and covered with lime. The Plague of Cyprian raged until 2071, by which time it claimed a quarter of Rome's population

At the time of the outbreak, it was said people were quick to turn over their friends and even family to the authorities in the hope they could avoid the deadly plague themselves.

The streets were strewn with carcasses, many of which were burned to try and destroy the disease.

In 270 the pandemic claimed the life of emperor Claudius II Gothicus and is thought by some to have contributed to the eventual fall of the Roman Empire.

There are many other incidents of smallpox breaking out around the world through human history, until the deadly disease was eradicated in 1979 after a widespread vaccination campaign.

This area was used to 'slake', or add water to, the lime. The lime production capabilities show just how fearful the locals were of the disease. Now believed to have been caused by smallpox, the plague was so devastating that it led Saint Cyprian to lament that it could signal the 'passing away of the world'

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This area was used to 'slake', or add water to, the lime. The lime production capabilities show just how fearful the locals were of the disease. Now believed to have been caused by smallpox, the plague was so devastating that it led Saint Cyprian to lament that it could signal the 'passing away of the world'

Before becoming a burial chamber for those killed by the Plague of Cyprian, the funerary had been built for an Egyptian grand steward named Harwa in the 7th century BC. Shown here is a grey fragment of decoration from within the monument found inside of the lime kilns

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Before becoming a burial chamber for those killed by the Plague of Cyprian, the funerary had been built for an Egyptian grand steward named Harwa in the 7th century BC. Shown here is a grey fragment of decoration from within the monument found inside of the lime kilns

It seems when it came to disposing of the plague victims the 3rd century Egyptians did not hold back in desecrating previous burials and tombs in their panic. Here is seen the face of a second century coffin that was stored as fuel in the entrance of the monument

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It seems when it came to disposing of the plague victims the 3rd century Egyptians did not hold back in desecrating previous burials and tombs in their panic. Here is seen the face of a second century coffin that was stored as fuel in the entrance of the monument

 

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) 

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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 fiancĂ© 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. 

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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

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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

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'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'.

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Developer Mohamed Hadid specializes in building enormous mansions

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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

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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

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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..

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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)

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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)

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

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'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

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'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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.'