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Top 10 Times Squatters Lived The High Life

by Nicholas Vrchoticky
fact checked by Jamie Frater

When we think of squatters, we usually think of people living in boarded-up sheds or hiding in the ruins of old buildings. But, once in a while, squatters get a ticket to the high life even if it’s only for a little while. Here are ten times squatters lived the high life.

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10 Boca Raton Mansion Takeover

In December of 2013, a man moved into a $2.5 million mansion. That’s a pretty cool thing to happen in most cases and definitely comes with bragging rights. But in this case, the mansion was foreclosed and that man who moved in, Andre “Loki Boy” Barbosa, never really owned it in the first place.

Barbosa was a squatter. He took over the mansion for almost two months while trying to claim the property under Florida’s adverse possession law (squatter’s rights). To Barbosa, this was the start of a movement to reclaim vacant properties, but just a start since he was evicted in February of 2014. He failed to claim the building as his own, but he did succeed in gaining some momentum for the movement as adverse possession claims began to pile up once his story went public.[1]

9 Piccadilly Mansion Renamed “Hippydilly” After Squatters Move-In

During the height of hippy culture, when dirt and grime, free love, and vagrancy were at a high in London, several hundred of these long-haired ganja-smokers found themselves a home at 144 Piccadilly street. You know, the sort of vacant 100-room mansion everyone hopes to live in for free someday.

As a counterculture movement and under fear of eviction, the group of hippies (legit 1960s, “free love” type hippies) organized under the name “London Street Commune” and occupied the mansion for three weeks during September of 1969. The group built a sort of drawbridge for an entryway that went over the dry mote to a ground-floor window, which is the kind of thing you have to do when you barricade the doors. Thanks to the hundreds of “street folk” and drug dealers occupying the residence, the house earned the popular name “Hippydilly.”[2]

8 How One Australian Became a Landlord Squatter

A property developer named Bill Gertos was walking along one day, doing normal Bill Gertos stuff, when he discovered an empty house in Sydney, Australia. Being a rational man, Gertos did what any other property developer would do: he stole it.

Gertos couldn’t exactly find tenants for his new rental property if he left it in shambles, so he changed the locks and fixed up the property. When the rightful owners discovered what had come of the house, it was too late. Gertos had applied for ownership. The previous owners didn’t know the property existed since they inherited it through a deceased relative, but at this point, Gertos had dropped $150,000 into the project and had been renting it to tenants for twenty years. Ultimately, he won the property due to squatters’ rights under the Real Property Act. Did I mention the property was worth $1.6 million?[3]

7 Determined Squatters Hop from One London Mansion to Another

Why live in one mansion when you could potentially live in all of them? We assume that’s what a group of London squatters was wondering after they had taken over a £15m Belgravia mansion in London that was owned by a Russian Oligarch. It wasn’t the longest run, lasting only a week, but that’s fine if you’re just sampling. By the time they were kicked from this high-end squat, the group had become accustomed to certain standards and wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.

Only hours after being removed from the Eaton Square mansion, they’d moved into a seven-story property in Grosvenor Gardens, five-minutes down the road. They told reporters that if they were removed from this one, they’d “just find another place.” Now, that’s what I call “determination.”[4]

6 A Squatter Wins a Free Victorian Flat in London but Can’t Use the Stairs

Jack Blackburn moved into his home back in 2001, when the building was still derelict and completely owned by somebody else. That owner was the Lambeth council.

Blackburn lived there for thirteen years, making repairs and fighting a drawn-out court battle, before legally winning ownership rights to the Victorian Flat. But, thanks to an anomaly in British law, Blackburn was denied the right to access his new property by way of the stairs . . . for eight years. The pad is worth a pretty penny at £175,000 ($225,000), even if Ol’ Jack couldn’t get to his front door, when you consider he never had to pay for the place.[5]

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5 Squatters target pubs in Chelsea

In 2012, squatters took over the Black Bull, a members-only club that had closed three months earlier, by crawling through the women’s bathroom window. Which is not the way you should enter a club, unless, of course, that club is vacant and you’re a squatter. The Black Bull squatters claimed they’d only planned to stay a short while, but since the leaseholder had called the police on them, they changed their minds and decided to ride out the court process until eviction. Because petty vengeance is fun for everyone.

The Black Bull wasn’t the first club this group had taken over. They had been living in The Charlie Butler before deciding to call Black Bull home. Other pubs, such as Cross Keys, had also been occupied by squatters. Thanks to a recent British law, squatting had been prohibited in residential settings, but this law had a loophole that allowed squatting in commercial buildings, turning pubs into targets. According to the lease owner of the Black Bull, the squatters had illegally reconnected the electricity and dipped into the bar’s stock. Party time is the only time if you’ve taken over a pub.[6]

4 A Squatter Called “Jesus” Moved into Borris Becker’s Mansion

A man by the name of Georg Berres, who calls himself “Jesus,” moved into Borris Becker’s mansion back in May of 2018. Berres claimed he didn’t know it was the tennis legend’s residential palace until the German media informed him when they showed up for an interview with the squatter. Borris Becker hadn’t been seen at the mansion in years.

Berres wasn’t trying to keep quiet about this takeover either. He posted a Facebook status saying “The new time begins now,” shared video tours he made, did several news interviews, and everything. According to Express, Berres had lived in several other properties in the area.[7]

3 One of the Most Famous Squats in the World

C-Squat is famous among squatters worldwide. In 1989 a rundown tenement building on the lower East-side of NYC, lacking stairs and landings, where apartments were connected by a series of ladders, was taken over by a group of squatters. The squatters repaired the building, including making an open venue for punk shows in the basement after the floor above collapsed. C-Squat even had an indoor skatepark by the time squatters got done with it.

In 2002, squatters started the process of making them legal owners of C-Squat, and in 2015, C-squat became a legal living co-op. This was one big step for squatters everywhere, one small step for . . . um . . . rundown buildings in New York City?[8]

2 A Squatter Took Over a San Francisco Mansion Because He Was Obsessed with Taylor Swift

Everyone wants to live in a mansion at some point in their lives, and several of these squatters have gotten a taste of the mansion-life by camping out in these oversized houses, but few have used these mansions to make a buck.

A man by the name of Jeremiah Kaylor moved into a historic Presidio Heights mansion back in 2015. He lived there for weeks, claiming “To me, I owned the house.” Thinking he owned the $22 million Koshland House is probably what lead Kaylor to believe it was totally cool to sell off the paintings within for a quick buck. It turned out this was just a bonus. The real reason the man took over this particular mansion was his obsession with Taylor Swift who he heard was thinking about buying the place. He was arrested for trespassing and burglary. And, in case you were wondering, he never did become president of the T-Swift Fanclub.[9]

1 Squatters Turn Mansion into Party House While Millionaire-Owner is Out of Town

Where’s the party at, you ask? Well, in May of this year, it was located at a $6 million mansion in Sydney, Australia, where five guys took over the home while the owner was in Hong Kong on business. News reports say the house was filled with booze and drug paraphernalia, through the bedrooms and bathrooms, and out to the pool. A lone bong sat in one room, probably used for smoking “the drugs.”

The squatters stayed at the mansion for nearly three weeks or, in party terms, a “wild ride,” before being driven out by some plumbers who showed up for maintenance reasons. Party poopers. The group of men claimed to know the owner, but when asked his name, they gave the wrong one. They then ran off when the plumbers tried to take their pictures. One of the men was caught and charged with trespassing. That means, there are probably four guys out there throwing one crazy party right now.[10]

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fact checked by Jamie Frater