No Place Like Home? 27-Story Mumbai Mansion Left Empty

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Frédéric Soltan / Corbis

India’s richest man has mystified – and drawn criticism from – elements of the country by building a super-mansion and then leaving it largely vacant, reports the New York Times.

Mukesh Ambani’s new house in the country’s commercial capital, Mumbai, is decadent by any standards. According to Indian media, the 27-story property boasts a staggering three helipads, six floors of parking and numerous floating gardens. But it seems to be lacking one essential element for any happy home: residents.

The building, called Antilia and completed in 2010, has yet to become Ambani’s main family residence. The industrialist, whose fortune Forbes estimates at $27 billion, reportedly lives with his wife, children and other extended family at Sea Wind, a slightly more modest 14-story apartment tower in the city.

Rumors abound over the reasons behind their reluctance to move into their extravagant new house. One theory has it that the structure does not conform to the ancient architectural doctrine of Vastu Shastra – a kind of Indian Feng Shui. Some say the lack of windows on the building’s eastern side deprives it of morning light and thereby brings bad luck.

The house, widely considered the most expensive private residence in the world at an approximate valuation of $1 billion, is at least put to some use. The Ambanis apparently host movie screenings and dinners in a grand ballroom.

In a city crammed full of slums and in a country where the majority live on less than $2 a day, the family’s actions – and inaction – have not surprisingly attracted criticism. They refuse to comment. “It’s a private home,” a spokesman told the New York Times. “There is no reason to discuss it in public.”

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Joe Jackson is a contributor at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @joejackson. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.