Antilia is a 27-floor residence in South Mumbai belonging to businessman Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries. A full-time staff of 600 maintains the residence, reportedly the most expensive home in the world.
Antilia Name and location
The building is named after the mythical Atlantic island of Antillia. Antillia, according to Aristotle, was a huge island in the Atlantic Ocean known to the Carthaginians.
The Antilia building is situated on an ocean-facing 4,532 square metres (48,780 sq ft) plot at Altamount Road, Cumballa Hill, South Mumbai, where land prices are upward of US$10,000 per square metre. In August 2008, Altamount Road was the 10th most expensive street in the world at US$25,000/sq m (US$2,336 per sq foot).
Antilia was designed by Chicago based architects, Perkins + Will. The Australia-based construction company Leighton Holdings began constructing it. The home has 27 floors with extra-high ceilings (other buildings of equivalent height may have as many as 60 floors). The home was also designed to survive an 8-richter scale earthquake.
The transactions surrounding the acquisition of the land on which this building is constructed, as well as various aspects of the construction and design of this building seem to raise significant issues of regulatory malfeasance and corruption among the various parties involved.
In 2002, this property was purchased by a Mukesh Ambani controlled entity – Antilia Commercial Private Limited from the Currimbhoy Ebrahimbhoy Khoja Trust, in direct contravention to section 51 of the Wakf Act.
This land was owned previously by the Currimbhoy Ebrahim Khoja Yateemkhana (Orphanage). This charitable institution had sold the land allocated for the purpose of education of underprivileged Khoja children to Antilia Commercial Private Limited in July 2002 for Rs 21.05 crore. The prevailing market value of land at the time was at least Rs.150 crore.
The Waqf minister Nawab Malik opposed this land sale and so did the revenue department of the Government of Maharashtra. Thus a stay order was issued on the sale of the land. Also, the Waqf board initially opposed this deal and filed a PIL in the Supreme Court challenging the decision of the trust. The Supreme Court while dismissing the petition asked the Waqf board to approach the Bombay High court. However the stay on this deal was subsequently vacated after the Wakf board withdrew its objection on receiving an amount of 16 lakh from Antilia Commercial Pvt Ltd and issued a No Objection certificate.
In 2007 the Allahabad government said the structure is illegal because the land’s owner, the Waqf Board, had no right to sell it, as Waqf property can neither be sold nor transferred. Ambani then obtained a No Objection Certificate from the Waqf Board after paying Rs 16 lakh (U$36,100) and began construction. In June 2011, the Union government asked the Maharashtra government to consider referring the matter to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
In regards to the three helipads, the Indian Navy said it will not allow the construction of helipads on Mumbai buildings, while the Environment Ministry said the helipads violate local noise laws. Issues have also been raised with regards to the construction of an illegal carpark.
Antilia Cost and valuation
Indian media has frequently reported that Antilia is the world’s most expensive home costing between US$1 and 2 billion. Thomas Johnson, director of marketing at architecture firm Will and Hirsch Bedner Associates that was consulted with by Reliance during building floor plan design, was cited by Forbes Magazine as estimating the cost of the residence at nearly $2 billion. In June 2008, a Reliance spokesman told The New York Times that it would cost $50–$70 million to build. Upon completion in 2010, media reports again speculated that, due to increasing land prices in the area, the tower may now be worth as much as US$1 billion.
Antilia Public reception
||It’s a stupendous show of wealth, it’s kind of positioning business tycoons as the new maharajah of India.
||— Hamish McDonald, author of Ambani & Sons: A History of the Business
Tata Group former chairman Ratan Tata has described Antilia as an example of rich Indians’ lack of empathy for the poor. Tata also said: “The person who lives in there should be concerned about what he sees around him and can he make a difference. If he is not, then it’s sad because this country needs people to allocate some of their enormous wealth to finding ways of mitigating the hardship that people have.”
Some Indians are proud of the “ostentatious house”, while others see it as “shameful in a nation where many children go hungry.” Dipankar Gupta, a sociologist at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, opined that “such wealth can be inconceivable” not only in Mumbai, “home to some of the Asia’s worst slums,” but also in a nation with 42 percent of the world’s underweight children younger than five. Recently Ratan Tata said that “It’s sad Mukesh Ambani lives in such opulence ole”.
Author activist Arundhati Roy questioned whether the “Ambanis hope to sever their links to the poverty and squalor of their homeland and raise a new civilisation” through Antilia.