Mukesh Ambani, India’s Richest Man, Builds World’s First Billion-Dollar Home

The richest man in India, Mukesh Ambani, has moved into his new home in Mumbai which is 27 storeys high and worth $1 billion dollars.

Antilla, the partially completed home of Mumbai-based petrochemicals giant Reliance Industries head Mukesh Ambani, will stand 27 stories high and is expected to cost $2 billion. Ambani, the fifth richest man in the world, his wife and three children currently live in a 22-story Mumbai tower the family has spent years remodeling and refashioning to meet its needs. Photo: Hirsch Bedner Associates

There’s no place like home – especially if it’s worth $1 billion dollars.  Yes, that’s billion with a ‘B.’ This is the extravagant $1 billion home built by a billionaire Indian tycoon to house his family-of-four in Mumbai.

The 173-metre tall mansion is called Antilia, after a mythical island in the Atlantic Ocean, and has just been completed after seven years of construction.

With 27 storeys, Antilia will be home to Mukesh Ambani, his wife and three children, and features a health club, dance studio, 50-seat movie theater and underground parking, the New York Daily News reports.

Towering above the Mumbai skyline, the 37,000sq ft property is 570ft high and also boasts three helipads on its roof, space for 160 vehicles on its lower floors and nine lifts.

Ambani's home features countless lounges, offering Reliance Industries guests a quiet escape. Chandeliers and mirrors are a common feature of these rooms, as are finely woven Indian area rugs. Photo: Hirsch Bedner Associates

Mr Ambani, 53, who owns much of oil, retail and bio-technology comglomerate Reliance Industries, paid millions of dollars (nearly $77 million dollars) to build his dream property, but astronomical property values in the Indian city mean it is now worth 15 times that amount.

He will employ 600 staff at the property and his family will live in the top floors, where they will enjoy a panoramic view of the country’s financial capital, including its slums, and the Arabian Sea. It was built to withstand military-grade explosions and an magnitude-8 earthquake, Indian media reported.

“I have seen several houses, including that of Lakshmi Mittal (an Indian steel tycoon and also one of the world’s richest men),” a businessman, who was not named, told The Times of India. “But Antilia is marvellous. I remember the house having a Picasso painting, it was one of its kind.”

Nine elevators dot the lobby floor: Two are designated for parking areas, three for guest quarters, two for the Ambani family residences and two for service. The lobby opens to numerous lounges, reception areas and powder rooms. Dual stairways lead from the lobby floor down to the ballroom, which is designed in an open layout with a two-story roof. Photo: Hirsch Bedner Associates

Mr Ambani has surprised many by constructing Antilia as he built his business reputation as a private individual who avoided the flamboyance of India’s ultra-rich.

Hamish McDonald, author of a history of the family business Ambani and Sons, told The Guardian: “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.”

Mr Ambani, 53, is the world’s fourth richest man and has a personal wealth of about $27 billion, but is set to become the world’s richest in 2014, Forbes magazine estimated.

One of Antilla's key design themes is the mix of lavish features seen in worldwide homes and elements that are distinctly Indian. The Gingko-leaf sink designs are a good example. Native to India, the leaves in the sinks are shaped in such a way that their stems guide water into the bowl created by the basket of the leaf. Photo: Hirsch Bedner Associates

The vast building is constructed from glass, steel and tiles and also features a four-storey hanging garden which is designed to keep the interior cooler in summer and warmer in the winter.

The interior of the property, on Altamount Road, has been designed by a U.S. architecture firms Perkins and Will & Hirsch Bedner Associates and has been described as ‘Asian contemporary’.

Its construction was reportedly influenced by Vaastu, an ancient Indian belief similarly to the Chinese’s Feng Shui. Each level is twice as high as a normal floor.

No floors or rooms are the same, meaning the material used on one floor cannot be used in the construction of another level. The first six floors are taken up by a car park that can hold up to 168 cars. The next floor is the lobby, with nine lifts servicing the building.

The most striking features of the Antilla ballroom are the crystal chandeliers that will take up approximately 80% of the ceiling. The silver stairways lead to a central landing, behind which two retractable doors can open to display works of art. There is also a stage for entertainment or speeches, with a projection screen behind it. A kitchen, about the same size as the ballroom itself, can service hundreds of guests. Photo: Hirsch Bedner Associates

On the eight floor lies a 50-seat theatre. Another floor consists of a ballroom that has a ceiling mostly covered by crystal chandeliers.

Other floors contain a health spa with a gym and dance studio, swimming pools, lounges, a vehicle maintenance area and, of course, guest rooms. The Ambani family will reside on the skyscraper’s top four floors, which takes up about 37,000 square metres.

An Indian design magazine editor, Shiny Varghese, said Antilia was “so obscenely lavish” that she doubted many other wealthy folk would splash out in such a manner. “But we are heading into the sort of culture where money is not a question when setting up a home,” Mr Varghese told The Guardian.

Each space and floor uses materials not seen anywhere else. The idea is that spaces will blend into one another, giving the impression of consistency and flow, while at the same time displaying different influences and traditions. This furniture, floors, lines and dark woods of this lounge have a more minimalistic approach than the home's other lounges. Photo: Hirsch Bedner Associates

Mr Ambani will hold a house warming party at his new home later this month. Among guests is India’s prime minister Manmohan Singh, who has previously called on business tycoons to be ‘role models of moderation’.

Some friends have defended him against charges of excess. One told the newspaper: “He can’t just walk into a cinema and watch a film like you or me. It’s only a family home, just a big one. It’s a question of convenience and requirements.” [via Daily Mail (UK) and Guardian (UK)]

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