For the average American, a home alarm system may be the extent of his or her security detail. But for the super-rich, it’s another story. They’re taking security to a new high in technology and price.
With billionaires worried about protestors, pirates and kidnappers, they’re fortifying their homes, yachts and even private jets with high-tech security. The price tag to equip homes of the super-rich can be as cutting edge as the technology.
Entry-level protection for such homes routinely easily reaches $150,000, but it can also be “fabulously more expensive,” said Al Corbi, president of Safe,a firm which designs custom security for the ultra-wealthy. It all depends on the amount of security, size of the home and the specific details involved.
One of his latest projects has a price tag of $10 million. What do you get for that kind of money?
“It would be full life-support systems that would keep these people and sustain them for generations, even if they were the last two people on earth,” Corbi said.
Those seeking top-level protection on the high seas can expect to spend 7 percent to 8 percent of the yacht’s total value, according to retired Coast Guard Vice Admiral Brian Peterman, now with Command at Sea International.So, a $54 million dollar super-yacht security retrofit would cost between $3.7 million and $4.3 million.
Here we take a look at some of the unbelievable lengths billionaires can go to in their quest for the ultimate protection, as well as the costs associated with the various security measures.
Because prices can range widely when it comes to securing a house, the prices quoted here for home security are based on Safe’s show home in the Hollywood Hills section of Los Angeles.
Click ahead for a peek at how a security-conscious billionaire can purchase peace of mind.
By Michelle FoxPosted 6 June 2012
Forget the single panic room, these days the über-rich can create an entire safe core inside their mansion.
By installing bullet- and bomb-proof door, walls, ceiling and floors, an entire area of the home — including bedrooms and bathrooms — is considered safe. With a week’s worth of supplies stored in the safe core, a family can live comfortably while they wait out the threat.
“Even though you don’t see any signs of security, it’s a fortress,” Safe’s Al Corbi said. “Security isn’t something that should make you feel hunkered down and restricted. On the contrary, it should liberate you. Once you have it, you can go on with your life.”
Within a home’s safe core is another safe room that is the command center. A ballistic door separates it from the safe core, and it’s “where everything happens,” according to Corbi.
The home’s occupants can view the entire house on a computer or tablet, thanks to the cameras strategically placed throughout the inside and outside of the building. They can also communicate with whoever is in the house and deploy any tactical security measures necessary.
While this device may not look like a weapon, it is actually quite deadly. Hidden behind walls and ceilings to blend with the architecture, it shoots 15 shotgun shells when activated.
The weapon can be deployed remotely, and requires a series of authentications before it can fire. While it has been installed in homes outside the U.S., Safe said it does not use the device anymore in the houses it secures.
Cost: $7,000 - $10,000 per unit
A non-lethal way to stop an intruder cold: A fog blaster located in an area or multiple areas of the house. Once activated, the device disables the invader with a sleeping compound or pepper spray laced into the foggy air. The fogger is part of the home’s tactical defense system that can be accessed remotely. At $10,000, the fogger is even affordable for those who aren’t super-rich.
Cost: $60,000 - $100,000
If an escape from the home is necessary, a heliport on the rooftop enables helicopters to whisk the rich away.
The landing pad is particularly important for those in areas subject to earthquakes and fires, like California. When a natural disaster makes roads impassable, it not only allows the home’s inhabitants to escape, it also can be used by an area hospital to airlift someone out in case of emergency. What’s more, it can be equipped with a fire hydrant that can hook up with a fire department helicopter to help it fight fires.
Cost: $5,000 for the system to hook up to the shower.
This bathroom’s shower may look beautiful and functional, but it serves another purpose. It’s equipped with a "biological wash." In the event of a bio-attack, it scrubs away offending chemical or biological agents — no appointment needed.
While the biological wash is usually part of a larger security package, the price makes it affordable for those who aren’t ultra-wealthy.
Cost: $50,000 for a basic shelter, up to millions of dollars
This high-end twist on the age-old bomb shelter is called an NBC shelter; it protects against nuclear, biological and chemical attacks. It is 20 feet underground and has a bullet- and bomb-proof door.
It also has everything the ultra-wealthy need to survive for at least three months, including food, water and “good air,” according to Safe’s Al Corbi. This particular shelter is even stocked with champagne.
If residents want to venture outside during a disaster, they can use the gas masks, NBC suits and supply-filled backpacks stored in the shelter.
While a very basic shelter with full range protection can cost as little as $50,000, costs can go into the millions of dollars. However, the difference, Corbi said, isn’t the level of protection — it’s the amenities involved.
Those who pay more “won’t be any more protected, but they will be a lot more comfortable,” he said, particularly if they have to stay underground for a long time to ride out a major threat.
Cost: Approximately $1 million
The super-rich like to travel in style, and that means private jets like the Gulfstream G4, pictured left. But the convenience of private jet travel also comes with risks. Security teams take every precaution when the aircraft is on the ground. But the protection doesn’t end there, it can also continue when the plane is airborne. Security experts tell CNBC that there are a couple dozen aircraft in the world that have electronic counter measures to thwart an incoming missile attack. Those measures can include a jamming system that blocks the infrared tracking systems for missiles.
According to BAE Systems, which developed an infrared countermeasures system called Boldstroke DIRCM for the government, it would cost about $1 million for the equipment.
Cost: $250,000 - $500,000 for a single cabin citadel room with windows
Mega yachts and their wealthy owners make prime targets for pirates and terrorists, so many opt to turn their expensive toys into secure fortresses. The idea is similar to what’s done in their homes, but the stakes are much higher, since help can be an ocean away.
The master suite of the super-yacht “Harbour Island,” pictured left, doubles as the ship’s panic room — complete with ballistic glass that protects against bullets and two to three days’ worth of food.
“They also have communications on board where you can alert the law enforcement people to come and assist you. These provide the ability for the crew to maintain command and control of the vessel,” said retired Coast Guard Admiral Brian Peterman, now with Command at Sea International.
The wealthy have reason to be cautious — according to U.S. Navy records, four yachts were hijacked by pirates in 2011.
Cost: $30,000 for a mid-sized super-yacht
Due to the super-yachts’ size, it is possible for hijackers to get on board without being seen. That’s why some owners decide to embed a security system in the yacht’s deck that detects every footstep. If anyone climbs aboard, the moment he or she puts a foot down, the security system alerts the staff and immediately trains the ship’s cameras on the person’s location.