Global speculation is surging as exquisitely tiny, stupefyingly rich Monaco prepares to open its first skyscraper in about 30 years.
With Swiss banks' secrecy fracturing, the world's 0.000001 percenters are fueling a housing boom in the notorious tax haven, which the New York Times calls "less a real country than a glorified safe deposit box festooned with palm trees and Lamborghini dealerships."
And so the "Sky Penthouse" atop the nearly finished Odeon Tower, an apartment that was expected just last year to sell for perhaps a quarter-billion dollars, is now the object of speculation that it could go for nearly twice that.
The most recent number: $400 million. (Click here or on a photo for a slideshow with renderings of the Odeon Tower.)
The French business magazine Challenges considers it a given that the penthouse will be the world's most expensive apartment. And indeed, a number anywhere near $400 million would pulverize the record set at London's One Hyde Park, where the penthouse is said to have sold for $223 million.
At about 500 acres, Monaco is scarcely larger than the average American farm, but packs about 37,000 people (about a third of them millionaires) into that space, making it the most densely populated nation in the world. France presses it against the Mediterranean Sea on all sides.
Soaring above it all will be the Odeon's Sky Penthouse.
Whatever it sells for, it will have about 38,000 square feet of living space spread across five levels, with a kitchen on every level -- and a water slide extending from a dance floor to the private infinity pool on the terrace.
"A property like this one is bought, it is not sold," the developer told Challenges, though a little promotion can't hurt: His company ordered up 100 leather cases at more than $1,000 apiece to present the property brochure.
UPDATE, noon-ish PT August 21: A couple of commenters, Lorax and Trey, have made some pretty illuminating comparisons. If you have your own, please feel free to put them in the comments too, and we'll try to add them here:
• If you put 10 percent down and pay $2,000 a month (more than most Americans pay per month for a mortgage), it would take 15,000 years to pay off a mortgage, says @Trey. And that's with no interest whatsoever.
The future buyer might want to take to heart the cautionary tales of mega-mansion owners, though: