With the media spotlight squarely on Vladimir Putin lately, you’ve probably been learning a whole lot about the oft-shirtless megalomaniac. Who knows, it may even be getting you excited in really weird ways. But did you know that during his first term as president, he began construction on a secret palace — to catch a bit of rest away from the 20 or so other residences he has access to — that would eventually end up costing a reported $1 billion? Much of it allegedly (allegedly!) improperly diverted from public funds? Whodathunk?!?
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Of course, he denied any involvement in the project; some mysterious, nearly untraceable company is listed on paper as the official owner of the home and property, located on the coast of the Black Sea. Putin just happened to regularly drop by and check in on the construction.
It all came to light a couple years ago when a former associate of Putin's bravely blew the whistle on the corrupt scheme. In an open letter to the president at the time, Dmitry Medvedev, he detailed the various ways it was strategically covered up — with money disguised as funds for various industrial projects and to improve the country’s healthcare infrastructure.
Shortly thereafter, a slew of cell phone photographs (republished here) of the palace and grounds surfaced on the Russian version of Wikileaks, proving just how over-the-top the place is.
The Italianate structure sits on a forested 40 acres, just spitting distance from the Black Sea in the very small resort town known as Praskoveevka.
Many of the photos include this mystery dude posing in front of things. Protip: don’t take pictures of yourself in the super secret lair of Vladimir Putin unless you enjoy vicious beatingsbeing murdered prison.
While photo evidence is fairly limited in its scope, the sprawling pad is known to have its own casino, church, and four heliports.
Plus a winter theater, summer amphitheater, swimming pools, staff apartments, and tea houses, where one presumably just sips from teacups full of vodka in the afternoon.
And during his regular (alleged!) visits, Putin would reportedly check to make sure furnishings and decor were up to snuff.