As the world looms ever closer to doomsday, here are the bespoke shelters the rich and powerful will be riding out the apocalypse.
Ben Rickert, in Adam McKay’s 2015 financial semi-biopic The Big Short, is a bit of an unorthodox character. He’s based on real-life banker Ben Hockett, who teamed up with his neighbours to bet against the American housing market and was rewarded handsomely.
Played by Brad Pitt, we meet Rickert mid-film and are greeted with his first claim about the future: “seeds will be the new currency”. Rickert is a survivalist, a man who believes modern society will collapse, leaving us to feed and protect ourselves against the elements – and each other.
The Big Short is based on a book of the same name, covering the build-up and climax of the housing crisis and financial crash of 2008. Nobody seemed to learn from that blip/catastrophe, and some believe it’s only a matter of time before something similar happens again. To that end, there’s a select group of individuals that have taken it upon themselves to prepare for the worst, be it a financial crash, a nuclear holocaust, or Piers Morgan being given more of a platform.
According to Brad Pitt, Hockert lives in a Californian home inaccessible by car, far from human settlement. In the film, he has multiple phone lines, and grows his own vegetables. This is 101 prepping for most enthusiasts, who number more than you’d think. For luxury survivalists, however, this is small-fry. Welcome to the big leagues.
New Zealand has been of particular interest to the super-rich looking to escape armageddon, with its isolation, lack of population and lush farming the perfect mix for a survivalist wanting the good life. A group of Silicon Valley executives have recently buried bunkers in the country, only to be found by GPS. The Investor Plus Visa also allows the rich to effectively buy property – and nationality – by investing a minimum of $10 million (approximately £5.2 million) within three years.
Rising S Co
The bunkers have been built and installed by American company Rising S Co, whose business motto is: “We don’t sell fear. We sell preparedness.” You too can get your own slice of preparedness from the reasonable price of £30,000, “specifically designed for the blue collar American family.” If you’re thinking there’s a touch of Fallout about it all, you’re not far off.
Included in the starter package bunker (8×12 sq.ft) is a range of mod-cons, such as a basic air filtration system, water pressure pump and 12 volt TV/DVD combination machine. The bunker prices steadily rise, but for those wanting something extra special to hole up in during hell on Earth, the company offer a £6.5 million luxury bomb shelter called The Aristocrat. The Aristocrat holds court over a bunker complex big enough for 50 people to sleep comfortably, with a full kitchen, sauna, swimming pool, bowling alley and a greenhouse with LED grow lights, among other perks that make you almost wish for a viral pandemic to occur.
The Oppidum, Czech Republic
Survivalists have been just as busy in Europe, with companies making big money from the end of the world. The friendly-sounding mega-structure, The Oppidum, is in the Czech Republic and was conceived in 1984 at the height of the Cold War. Because powerful thumbs across the world were poised over various red buttons, the governments of Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union pumped money into a huge apocalypse-proof complex capable of sustaining a community for 10 years. The Oppidum is the result, and they don’t make ’em like they used to.
Along with the staggering above-ground 30,000 sq.m (323,000 sq.ft) plot, the below-ground, super-safe section has a total space of 7,200 sq.m (77,500 sq.ft), with ceiling heights of four metres. This is split up in to one 630 sq.m and six 160 sq.m apartments, an underground garden with simulated natural light, a swimming pool, library, cinema and spa; offices and a conference room (for all those meetings you’ll have after the breakdown of modern civilisation); and medical and surgical facilities. There’s also a wine cellar, which was probably the first room installed.
The Vivos Group
The Vivos Group has already sold out an 80-man Cold War shelter in Indiana, USA, and is in the process of reworking a Soviet base bore into a 400ft mountain near Rothenstein, Germany. The Soviets knew how to build big bunkers: the complex is 2,300 sq.m (250,000 sq.ft), and will apparently house up to 1,000 people, with over three miles of tunnel chambers, bespoke living quarters, a zoo, space for culturally significant items and a gene bank to protect the existence of plant and animal life.
The price? A semi-private suite costs around £31,000. An apartment – £1.8 million. Compared to central London, that’s not bad at all – and peace of mind is priceless, right? I’ll start stocking up on seeds.