India's Ambani hosts party for 'world's priciest home'

The 27-storey Antilia, the newly-built residence of Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, is seen in Mumbai on October 19, 2010. The 27-storey building is said to have a helipad, a cinema and a temple

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Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani has hosted a lavish house-warming for his new 27-storey residence, believed to be the world's most expensive home.

About 80 people attended the party in Mumbai on Friday, reported the Times of India. One guest described the house as "the Taj Mahal of the 21st Century".

Mr Ambani, said to be India's richest man, moved into the house last month with his wife and three children.

Reports suggest the residence is worth more than $1bn (£630m).

The skyscraper in Mumbai (Bombay), which overlooks sprawling slums, is said to have a cinema, swimming pools and a helicopter pad, and is named "Antilia" after a mythical Atlantic island.

Local newspapers said the house would require 600 members of staff to maintain it, and according to the Times of India, the first electricity bill, for September, is costing Mr Ambani 7m rupees (£98,000).

The house has sparked some controversy, with anti-poverty campaigners underlining the contrast between the luxury of the house and the plight of those who live in Mumbai's slums, which house about half of the city's 18 million people.

'Versailles rival'

Guests at the house-warming included Indian novelist Shobhaa De, Bollywood stars Preity Zinta and Aamir Khan, and billionaire Kumar Mangalam Birla.

Indian billionaire tycoon Mukesh Ambani Mr Ambani is one of the world's richest men, with an estimated fortune of £17bn

Ms De said the 174m (570ft) building was the "Taj Mahal of the 21st Century".

She described "what has got to be the biggest, glitziest ballroom in India - the Palace of Versailles is a poor cousin".

"There is a lot of marble, there is a lot of mother of pearl. There are areas and gardens and lotus pools and an absolutely beautiful Krishna temple. There is art, there's sculpture, there is a huge bar, there is a swimming pool," she said.

"The Taj Mahal was considered one of the wonders of the world, this is...I'm sure it's going to be one of the wonders of modern India," she told the BBC.

She said the house was built to the personal taste of Mr Ambani, and that people should not "grudge him his indulgencies".

"He generates a great amount of employment for those very poor and contributes to the economy," she added.

The house, which has a temple on the ground floor and a library on the top, was designed according to Vaastu principles, an Indian tradition similar to Chinese feng shui.

According to Forbes magazine, Mr Ambani, 53, has amassed a $27bn (£17bn) fortune.

He is chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries, one of the largest conglomerates in the world, and also owns the Indian Premier League team, the Mumbai Indians.

Mr Ambani's brother, Anil, held a "parallel party" at the 14-storey residence which houses the rest of the family.

Relations between the brothers became strained during a dispute over the division of the conglomerate left by their father, Dhirubhai, who died in 2002 without a will.

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