Peter Thiel is building a panic room in his New Zealand property, and it could be a sign that he’s part of a growing number of American millionaires choosing New Zealand as their Doomsday destination.
Last year it emerged the billionaire venture capitalist and co-founder of Paypal was granted New Zealand citizenship in 2011.
Thiel visited the country just three times for a grand total of 12 days before his citizenship was granted.
New Zealand citizenship rules normally require an applicants to be a permanent resident for 1,350 days in the five years preceding an application.
During his few visits he met four senior members of the Cabinet, including the Prime Minister.
Following public backlash, authorities who oversaw the citizenship defended their decision to give Theil citizenship by saying he had been “a great ambassador and salesperson” for the country.
According to the New York Times, Theil wrote in his application: “I am happy to say categorically that I have found no other country that aligns more with my view of the future than New Zealand.”
He told Business Insider in 2011 he found “utopia” in New Zealand and already had two noteworthy venture investments in Xero and Pacific Fibre.
Despite saying that he had no plans to reside in New Zealand after gaining citizenship, and that he’d rather be “an enthusiastic supporter of the country,” the billionaire went on to make a number of real estate purchases.
In 2011 he bought a four-bedroom home in Queenstown for $NZ4.8 million.
And in 2015 he bought a 193-hectare block in Wanaka (the area used for the mountains in Lord of the Rings) for $NZ13.5 million.
He did not need to follow foreign buyers rules for the sales because he was a citizen.
While the land from the second purchase still remains undeveloped, it’s Thiel’s Queenstown property that is most intriguing.
After suffering a serious fire last year, causing more than $NZ500,000 in damage, Thiel used the opportunity to repurpose a walk-in closet — into a panic room.
The new design is laid out in building consents for the repairs filed with the Queenstown Lakes District Council in May, according to the Herald.
There have been numerous reports over the years about some of America’s wealthiest people buying property in New Zealand so that they have somewhere to flee in the event of a global catastrophe.
Buying a house in New Zealand has become a sort of code for getting “apocalypse insurance,” as Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn puts it to the New Yorker last year.
“Saying you’re ‘buying a house in New Zealand’ is kind of a wink, wink, say no more,” he said.
“Once you’ve done the Masonic handshake, they will be, like, ‘Oh, you know, I have a broker who sells old ICBM silos, and they’re nuclear-hardened, and they kind of look like they would be interesting to live in.’”
While some have previously pointed to New Zealand as Thiel’s “back up country”, he has not ever confirmed it.
This latest development however sure looks like he is preparing his Doomsday bunker for Armageddon.