Broke Irishman Builds Billion-Euro House — Out of Shredded Bills

Frank Buckley may not be made of money, but his Dublin house literally is.

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How did an unemployed, broke, nearly homeless Irishman build a €1.4 billion ($1.84 million) home? It turns out, the Central Bank of Ireland was just giving money away. He showed up at the Central Bank of Ireland mint and hauled out two trailers full of cash. So what’s the catch?

Dublin artist Frank Buckley didn’t use the cash to pay for his house. Instead, the billion euros literally became his house. That’s because the bills were decommissioned and shredded, packaged neatly into 6-inch by 2-inch bricks, each worth (once upon a time) €50,000.

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Cathal McNaughton / Reuters

Now, the former euro bills have been fused into his new home – and a striking art project, located in the lobby of a four-year-old Dublin office building that’s still seeking its first tenants. He’s stacked the bricks full of shredded bills into million-euro walls and has scattered thousands of euros across the floor as a makeshift carpet. Artwork made from the bills and euro coins adorns the walls. Say what you will about the euro’s future, but the fact that the bills are currently decorating Buckley’s home – well, that paints a rather grim picture, doesn’t it?

The artist has taken a personal stake in his own work, mainly because he was a casualty of Ireland’s shoddy lending practices. Buckley, even though he had no income, was able to take out a 100% mortgage on a home within commuting distance from Dublin’s city center. But he quickly saw the €365,000 mortgage evaporate, along with his marriage. His wife, who he’s separated from, currently lives in the house, but it’s since lost nearly one-third of its value.

And with winter upon Ireland, Buckley has found an unanticipated benefit of the millions of euros lining his walls: they keep his home so insulated that he doesn’t need a blanket on his bed. Sometimes, worthless bills can help construct a better home than the legal tender kind.

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