The Wall Street Journal, grand authority on breaking news in absurd luxury real estate offerings—they blew the door wide open on $750K teen lounges, exposed the trials of finding the perfect fish tank, and delved deep into the realm of super opulent closets—has got the inside scoop on London's "iceberg houses," or urban palaces with bloated, teched-out basements. See, in a city where historic neighborhood aesthetic is valued on high, pouring a few million into the space below ground is a way to increase square footage without having to jump through many of the city's preservation codes, which mostly restrict the outward appearance of houses. New city ordinances may soon rein in the most extravagant subterranean xanadus, but that hasn't stopped many an heiress and Russian oligarch from building. Here now, the eight most absurd lines from the story:
8. "And beneath her Kensington home, Tamara Ecclestone, of the Formula One racing family, created a spa for her dogs."
7. "Gert-Rudolph Flick, an heir to the Daimler-Benz auto fortune, has plans to excavate beneath his $46.24 million home in South Kensington to create space for a 50-foot swimming pool, gym and screening room."
6. "Last year, RBKC received applications for 307 basement projects, up from 182 in 2010."
5. "'Everybody loves the stories about the 15 swimming pools, but most of these people just want something sensible and quite modest,' he said."
4. "He has helped create 10,000-square-foot basements, complete with everything from rifle ranges to art galleries."
3. "'Superrich buyers just want all the toys,' he said. 'These are people who want to show off, whether it be a Middle Eastern playboy, an American hedge-fund type or a Russian oligarch. I don't think people really use them much; it is more about outdoing their mates. It is a 'mine is bigger than yours' sort of exercise.'"
2. "'Ten years ago, who had heard of a media room? But now they all want them, plus a wine cellar and perhaps a gym if that is their interest, and room for a live-in nanny.'"
1. "'Well, my next-door neighbors are doing one right now; there are another three on the street. It is a constant merry-go-round, except that it is not that merry because it is very noisy and very disruptive.'"