'Billion-Euro Home' Built by Unemployed Artist

billion euro home

By Conor Humphries

DUBLIN -- Giving new meaning to "money pit," an unemployed Irish artist has built a home from the shredded remains of 1.4 billion euros ($1.82 billion), a monument to the "madness" that he says has been wrought on Ireland by the single currency, from a spectacular construction boom to a wrenching bust.

Frank Buckley 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 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."

A wave of cheap credit flowed into Ireland in the early 2000s after Ireland joined the currency zone, fueling a huge property bubble that transformed the country.

The bubble's collapse since 2007 plunged Ireland into the deepest recession in the industrialized world, forcing the former "Celtic Tiger" to accept a humiliating bailout from the EU and the IMF.

Buckley was given a 100 percent mortgage at the peak of the boom to buy a 365,000 euro home on the far reaches of Dublin's commuter belt, despite the fact he had no steady income. (That's nearly $480,000 at today's exchange rate.)

He has separated from his wife who lives in the home, which has since 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 that Buckley says he sleeps without a blanket.

Pictures made from notes and coins decorate the walls, including one of a house that's made from Irish 5 pence pieces.

"There are houses in Ireland worth less than that," Buckley quips.

Buckley said that he wants Europe's politicians to solve the eurozone 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."

(Reporting by Conor Humphries; editing by Carmel Crimmins and Paul Casciato.)

Copyright 2012 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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