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Squatters evicted from Russian oligarch's £15m London home

  • Squad of bailiffs arrive first thing this morning at the mansion in Belgrave Place, London to evict the squatters
  • 'Anti-fascist' groups including the Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians occupied home nine days ago
  • But squatters lost a county court case and were forcibly removed after bailiffs smashed down the front door
  • The Grade II listed mansion - which has five storeys - is owned by the Russian billionaire Andrey Goncharenko

By Alexander Robertson For Mailonline

Published: 04:22 EST, 1 February 2017 | Updated: 11:36 EST, 1 February 2017

Squatters evicted from a £15million mansion this morning have moved upmarket to take over a £25million property just yards from Buckingham Palace.

The new property is the former home of renowned ethnologist and archeologist Augustus Pitt-Rivers.

The seven floor complex was occupied this morning by 20 members of the Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians after they were evicted from a Grade II listed property in Eaton Square.

One squatter, who did not want to be named, said the property, near Victoria Station, was 'massive', with a chandelier in every room.

'It's big - it's like seven floors. It's a lot bigger than the other one, he said. 'I sorted out my room already and I can't find it. It's massive.'

Squatter Tom Fox found the building within minutes of bailiffs evicting the group earlier today. He said: 'We found it about two hours ago, there are some awesome rooms here, mine is the one at the top.

'Me and the other guys who opened the place had a meeting earlier and everyone can choose their own room.

'There's enough for everyone but the guys who open the building get first dibs. 

Squatters evicted from a £15million mansion this morning have moved upmarket to take over a £25million property just yards from Buckingham Palace Squatters evicted from a £15million mansion this morning have moved upmarket to take over a £25million property just yards from Buckingham Palace
The new property two minutes away is the former of home renowned ethnologist and archeologist Augustus Pitt-Rivers The new property two minutes away is the former of home renowned ethnologist and archeologist Augustus Pitt-Rivers

Squatters evicted from a £15million mansion this morning have moved upmarket to take over a £25million property just yards from Buckingham Palace. The new property is the former home of archeologist Augustus Pitt-Rivers (pictured right)

The seven floor complex (pictured) was occupied this morning by 20 members of the Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians after they were evicted from a Grade II listed property in Eaton Square The seven floor complex (pictured) was occupied this morning by 20 members of the Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians after they were evicted from a Grade II listed property in Eaton Square

The seven floor complex (pictured) was occupied this morning by 20 members of the Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians after they were evicted from a Grade II listed property in Eaton Square

Squatters have already plastered the inside of the home with stickers targeting landlords and property developers Squatters have already plastered the inside of the home with stickers targeting landlords and property developers
Belongings of the squatters have been piled up inside the mansion Belongings of the squatters have been piled up inside the mansion

Squatters have already plastered the inside of the home (shown right) with stickers targeting landlords and property developers (left)

A video taken inside the mansion shows squatters attempting to barricade the doors as bailiffs try to break the door down A video taken inside the mansion shows squatters attempting to barricade the doors as bailiffs try to break the door down

A video taken inside the mansion shows squatters attempting to barricade the doors as bailiffs try to break the door down

A team of about 10 squatters forced their way through the front door and a basement and evicted 40 or so people from inside A team of about 10 squatters forced their way through the front door and a basement and evicted 40 or so people from inside

A team of about 10 squatters forced their way through the front door and a basement and evicted 40 or so people from inside

'At the moment there are 20 people here and we will go around and talk to some homeless people and talk to them, if they seem okay they we will invite them back here.

'We will stay for as long as we can, we're hoping to get the lift fixed as well and the guys have already got the electricity going.

'It was really quick (moving from the £15million mansion) and finding this place but it always happens like that.

'People here have been squatting for years, they know how to live and how to get the electricity and heating working.'

Augustus Pitt-Rivers, an English Army Officer, lived in the mansion and died in 1900 aged 72.

His innovations in archaeology are exhibited in around 22,000 objects at the Pitt Rivers Museum at the University of Oxford.

A Polish handyman who says he previously worked as an engineer had the electricity working within minutes of entering the five-storey building. 

Bailiffs watch on as squatters who took over a mansion in London are evicted from the premises Bailiffs watch on as squatters who took over a mansion in London are evicted from the premises

Bailiffs watch on as squatters who took over a mansion in London are evicted from the premises

Photographs taken from inside the house show the obscene graffiti that has been plastered over the Grade II listed home's walls Photographs taken from inside the house show the obscene graffiti that has been plastered over the Grade II listed home's walls

Photographs taken from inside the house show the obscene graffiti that has been plastered over the Grade II listed home's walls

Around 40 activists were forced out of one of Britain's most desirable addresses by a team of ten bailiffs who smashed in the front and basement doors at 8.10am Around 40 activists were forced out of one of Britain's most desirable addresses by a team of ten bailiffs who smashed in the front and basement doors at 8.10am

Around 40 activists were forced out of one of Britain's most desirable addresses by a team of ten bailiffs who smashed in the front and basement doors at 8.10am

The 36-year-old handyman, who has a scar along his cheek refused to be named and worked to drill in barricades on a basement door.

He said: 'We are going to barricade one half of the front door and the second half we are going to use.

'At the money I am protecting the people who live here, when we were under attack from the fascists we needed the doors to be barricaded.

'There are only two doors that need to be barricaded, one half of the front door and this one.

'My power tools are the most important thing, I bought this drill, I am a handyman.

'When we got in the first thing we did was switch off the lift and got the electricity working, hopefully we can get the central heating on, if the heating is cut there is nothing we can do. We'll just have to use electric heaters.'

It comes after a team of bailiffs arrived in Belgravia Place in the early hours of this morning to evict 40 or so people from a £15million mansion. 

Nico Phillips, 36, who has cerebral palsy was one of several who locked themselves in a room to try and keep the bailiffs out.

He said: 'We knew that it was better to stay out of the way of any violence and to stay away from what was happening.

'Some people were trying to kick things off, we were on the ground floor. We were just trying to stay safe.'

One video from the eviction showed a female bailiff from the Sheriffs Office attempting to remove a woman from the home One video from the eviction showed a female bailiff from the Sheriffs Office attempting to remove a woman from the home
She says in the bailiff's face: 'Don't touch me' She says in the bailiff's face: 'Don't touch me'

One video from the eviction showed a female bailiff from the Sheriffs Office attempting to remove a woman from the home

The bailiffs spent around half an hour banging on doors and removing the squatters from the building in Eaton Square, Belgravia The bailiffs spent around half an hour banging on doors and removing the squatters from the building in Eaton Square, Belgravia

The bailiffs spent around half an hour banging on doors and removing the squatters from the building in Eaton Square, Belgravia

Squatters made a point of displaying posters and banners as they finally left the property after staying inside for nine days Squatters made a point of displaying posters and banners as they finally left the property after staying inside for nine days

Squatters made a point of displaying posters and banners as they finally left the property after staying inside for nine days

The group had been staying at the Grade II listed mansion owned by Andrey Goncharenko in Eaton Square for the previous nine days The group had been staying at the Grade II listed mansion owned by Andrey Goncharenko in Eaton Square for the previous nine days

The group had been staying at the Grade II listed mansion owned by Andrey Goncharenko in Eaton Square for the previous nine days

A man is shown walking through Belgrave Place with a mattress over his head shortly after being evicted this morning A man is shown walking through Belgrave Place with a mattress over his head shortly after being evicted this morning

A man is shown walking through Belgrave Place with a mattress over his head shortly after being evicted this morning

Squatters who have been living in the mansion over the previous nine days begin to file outside under the watchful eye of court-ordered bailiffs Squatters who have been living in the mansion over the previous nine days begin to file outside under the watchful eye of court-ordered bailiffs
Pictured: One of the mansion's many Roman-inspired columns Pictured: One of the mansion's many Roman-inspired columns

Squatters who have been living in the mansion over the previous nine days begin to file outside under the watchful eye of court-ordered bailiffs (pictured right: One of the mansion's many Roman-inspired columns)

Jessica Ellis, a member of the Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians who opened the squat a week ago was dragged out by bailiffs.

The 23-year-old said: 'One of them grabbed me for no reason and I was manhandled and I said I have asthma but they didn't listen.

'I had a bottle of squash and I threw it at one of them, they shoved me against a fence and I went to head butt another because they were pushing me down the stairs.

'Then I was shoved to the floor and eventually they took me round the corner and let me go.'

Police say they counted 42 squatters leaving the five-storey mansion which is owned by Russian oligarch billionaire Andrey Goncharenko.

A police officer, who was offering for the squatters to go to Westminster police station to keep warm and make phone calls, said: 'They're all out now.

'I counted 42 in total, it was quite peaceful there wasn't a lot of protest.'

Piles of bed clothing is dumped outside the massive property as bailiffs carry out the eviction in the early hours of Wednesday Piles of bed clothing is dumped outside the massive property as bailiffs carry out the eviction in the early hours of Wednesday

Piles of bed clothing is dumped outside the massive property as bailiffs carry out the eviction in the early hours of Wednesday

Those who took over the building were members of various anti fascist groups, including one called ANAL, which stands for Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians

Two squatters huddle together outside the house Two squatters huddle together outside the house
Another squatter is evicted from the premises Another squatter is evicted from the premises

Two squatters huddle together outside the house (shown left), while another is evicted from the premises (pictured right)

Parents walk past the eviction as one of the squatters revealed that the large group was now looking for a new property to house everyone in Parents walk past the eviction as one of the squatters revealed that the large group was now looking for a new property to house everyone in

Parents walk past the eviction as one of the squatters revealed that the large group was now looking for a new property to house everyone in

He said: 'When we asked for proper paperwork for our property, we came back one day to find our stuff in the streets and we had to leave.' 

Those who took over the building were members of various anti fascist groups, including one called ANAL, which stands for Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians.

But yesterday they lost a county court case against the Russian tycoon and were evicted by bailiffs within hours. 

Jed Miller, one of the squatters who was in court yesterday, said they would begin the search for another property.

Mr Miller, 25, a law student, who wore combat style clothing to the hearing, said: 'It has been a really stressful week and experience. 

One of the squatters looks on as bailiffs continue to evict people from the large property, along with their possessions One of the squatters looks on as bailiffs continue to evict people from the large property, along with their possessions

One of the squatters looks on as bailiffs continue to evict people from the large property, along with their possessions

The squatters originally gained access to the mansion, owned by a Russian oligarch, through an unlocked window The squatters originally gained access to the mansion, owned by a Russian oligarch, through an unlocked window

The squatters originally gained access to the mansion, owned by a Russian oligarch, through an unlocked window

The group of squatters have been at the Grade II listed mansion (pictured) owned by Andrey Goncharenko in Eaton Square, London, for the last nines days

A smashed window on the house in Belgravia, showing a sign that reads 'class war'. Those inside said they were occupying the mansion to bring attention to inequalities A smashed window on the house in Belgravia, showing a sign that reads 'class war'. Those inside said they were occupying the mansion to bring attention to inequalities

A smashed window on the house in Belgravia, showing a sign that reads 'class war'. Those inside said they were occupying the mansion to bring attention to inequalities

'Four or five of us were in court today. We were being represented by a lawyer who lives in the squat. I knew this morning that there was a very good chance that we would lose the case but we will fight on.

'I'm obviously disappointed. I think we will be evicted either today or tomorrow and we will be looking for a new property to house everyone in. We are discussing whether to appeal against the decision at the moment. 

'What will happen now, is the owner's lawyers will seek a writ of possession from the High Court and that means the bailiffs could come round tonight.'  

The Russian oligarch is not believed to have attended the hearing.

Mr Miller said: 'If I could give him a message, I'd say that we have already achieved so much by opening up an empty building.

'It's been a safe space for the homeless and we have helped educate the homeless. We've done so much in a week and he had the building empty since 2014.' 

INSIDE THE £15M HOME NOW LADEN WITH TRASH AND GRAFFITI

Just hours after the court ruling, while many of the original squatters have since vacated the property, it was far from empty. The 1820s house was still occupied by various individuals, some identifying as homeless, others calling themselves political activists.

One occupant, who wished to be known as Mordecai, first visited the mansion on Friday then moved in after an attack on the mansion on Saturday when masked attackers smashed windows.

He says he was inspired to move in, 'to enforce the extras and support our comrades.' 

He said: 'Some people think, 'Oh it's a party', but then you are talking to people and realise this guy is part of an organisation of tens of thousands of people and then this lady, she's a very serious activist.

Squatters are shown making themselves at home inside the massive London mansion in Eaton Square, Belgravia Squatters are shown making themselves at home inside the massive London mansion in Eaton Square, Belgravia

Squatters are shown making themselves at home inside the massive London mansion in Eaton Square, Belgravia

'I think for the public it's just, you know, 'Ah, they've p***ed off the big Russian oil baron'.

'There are 1.5 million empty properties, people are dying on the streets. From my perspective it's a message to the capitalist leaders.'

Fellow squatter Jess Ellis moved in the day before the court ruling to offer support to the cause. She said: 'On a day to day basis it's changed, there's been different people coming in and out.

'Basically, we're trying to raise awareness about things the system is failing on: the main one is homelessness, the second is promising people things and then it never happens.

'There's a whole variety of issues that we don't agree with that we are trying to make change from, and if it takes taking over big buildings like this then that's what we will do.'

Jess, who's now in sheltered accommodation, said: 'As soon as we get evicted from here a team of us are going out to look for a new building straight away. I'm staying here until the bitter end - the bailiffs will have to tell me to leave or drag me out of here.' 

The ground floor hallway was furnished with makeshift shelves, stocked with food supplies and two trestle tables, laden with more snacks and plastic bowls of fruit The ground floor hallway was furnished with makeshift shelves, stocked with food supplies and two trestle tables, laden with more snacks and plastic bowls of fruit

The ground floor hallway was furnished with makeshift shelves, stocked with food supplies and two trestle tables, laden with more snacks and plastic bowls of fruit

Everywhere there were signs of the squatters making themselves at home. The ground floor hallway is furnished with makeshift shelves, stocked with food supplies and two trestle tables, laden with more snacks and plastic bowls of fruit.

The first floor is emptier, a pair of jeans and sleeping bag crumpled in one corner; in another room, a grand fireplace is decorated with graffiti with slogans like 'Pu**y', and 'Who r ur allies They're all spies', and heart-shaped drawings tacked to the white walls with masking tape.

The temporary fittings contrast with the grand red carpeted staircase and black and white tiled hall floor. Occupants have plenty of rooms to choose from but in main stay on the ground and first floor.

Sitting on the floor beneath windows, which have been barricaded with the property's doors, a group roll cigarettes and appear relaxed about their imminent eviction.

One resident, 28-year-old Grant, came to the mansion directly from sleeping on the streets for the past 15 months.

Drinking strong black coffee in the house's makeshift kitchen, complete with hotplate and microwave, Grant says his five-day stay at 102 Eaton Square is the longest he's been off drugs in the last few years.

 One of the squatters is shown preparing a meal for the others ahead of the eviction, whcih took place early on Wednesday morning  One of the squatters is shown preparing a meal for the others ahead of the eviction, whcih took place early on Wednesday morning

 One of the squatters is shown preparing a meal for the others ahead of the eviction, whcih took place early on Wednesday morning

He said: 'I'm rattling. Heroin, crack, valium, pills; you name it. Anything that could take you out of your f***ing mind I took.'

Prior to sleeping rough in London, Grant lived in Scotland with his wife and 10-year-old son.

He said: 'I had everything, then I lost it on a binge with the drink and drugs and threw it all away. I had my own business, I had a house, my wife and son, a car.'

Grant claims that being in the squat has been a positive experience. 'It has been good - shown me that there are a lot of people wanting to help.'

For Jess too the sense of community, alongside the protest, is powerful. She said: 'There's community [here]. When you're outside in the real world it's hard to get that feeling, it's hard to have that sense of belonging.

'Especially for people like us because we are what people call anti-social, reprobates, criminals protesters, annoyances, nuisances, whatever.

'We may seem like that but we have to be like this to try and change the situation for better. Not just for people like us but for people of all walks of life.

'If it takes such drastic movements like this to get the government to listen then we know we're doing it for the best.'

Those who occupied the property said highlighting homelessness in the capital was among the causes it was publicising  Those who occupied the property said highlighting homelessness in the capital was among the causes it was publicising 

Those who occupied the property said highlighting homelessness in the capital was among the causes it was publicising 

Mr Miller said someone had already informed squatters at the property that they had lost the hearing. 

Yesterday it emerged the squatters had been attacked by a gang of masked men who hurled missiles and abuse.

YouTube footage shows the Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians being attacked by at least a dozen thugs who stationed themselves outside the Belgravia mansion on Saturday.

The squatters were reportedly taking part in a peaceful poetry workshop when the £15million property, owned by oligarch Andrey Goncharenko, was attacked.

The video shows the men, who covered their faces with scarves, shout abuse at the squatters and order them to come downstairs.

Clattering can be heard as the gang start launching missiles, including what appear to be glass bottles, at the home. 

The squatters got into the property through an unlocked window. Pictured is Jed Miller, one of the group The squatters got into the property through an unlocked window. Pictured is Jed Miller, one of the group

The squatters got into the property through an unlocked window. Pictured is Jed Miller, one of the group

The squatters remained in the property and eventually aimed fire extinguishers at the gang in bid to stop the attack.

Between 25 and 30 activists entered the grade II listed mansion last Monday and, since then, have invited in homeless people, screened anarchist films and played football in the library.

The anarchist group had hoped to run a free clothes shop for rough sleepers in the property, which was formerly a Spanish cultural centre.

The Eaton Square mansion is thought to have been empty since it was bought by Mr Goncharenko in 2014.

Tom Fox, 23, said he and his fellow activists intend to make a stand against rich investors leaving similar homes derelict.

The squatters have access to gas, electricity, hot running water and even a WiFi account named 'Billion' and turned what was the mansion's library into a makeshift football pitch, using a DIY ball made with duct tape as a ball.

The men, who covered their faces with scarves, shout abuse at the squatters and order them to come downstairs The men, who covered their faces with scarves, shout abuse at the squatters and order them to come downstairs

The men, who covered their faces with scarves, shout abuse at the squatters and order them to come downstairs

The squatters have taken over a £15million mansion in Belgravia, central London, owned by a Russian billionaire The squatters have taken over a £15million mansion in Belgravia, central London, owned by a Russian billionaire

The squatters have taken over a £15million mansion in Belgravia, central London, owned by a Russian billionaire

Lat week Mr Fox, who grew up in Manchester and is a qualified plumber, joked that they would leave if Mr Goncharenko gave them £50,000.

He said: 'There is so much empty space and so many empty houses because people have invested in these dead assets, these stale assets.

'There are so many homeless people who need a place to stay. This place is in great condition and we have got nine or ten homeless people living here.

'There are these preconceptions that they are all crack addicts and things but many people are in this situation because they have just slipped through the net.

'There would be plenty of people willing to work as minders [for these properties], you could set up CCTV and then let the homeless in. There are people dying on the streets at the moment.'

The anti-fascist group joked they will leave if oligarch Andrey Goncharenko pays them £50,000 The anti-fascist group joked they will leave if oligarch Andrey Goncharenko pays them £50,000

The anti-fascist group joked they will leave if oligarch Andrey Goncharenko pays them £50,000

A banner which reads 'USA Anti-Government In Exile' hangs above the front door, as well as a black flag with the words 'Antifaschistische Aktion', an Anti fascist network from continental Europe A banner which reads 'USA Anti-Government In Exile' hangs above the front door, as well as a black flag with the words 'Antifaschistische Aktion', an Anti fascist network from continental Europe

A banner which reads 'USA Anti-Government In Exile' hangs above the front door, as well as a black flag with the words 'Antifaschistische Aktion', an Anti fascist network from continental Europe

The palatial mansion is the latest of 33 high profile central London properties Mr Fox claims to have squatted in.

The anarchist group set up camp in Trafalgar Square's Admiralty Arch in April 2015 and unfurled banners reading 'Homes for all'.

The group gained access to the Eaton Square mansion by sliding open a basement window, then spreading the word via social media. 

The alleged computer hacker Laurie Love, 32, who is facing extradition to the US accused of stealing data from American intelligence agencies, has visited friends living in the squat, but did not spend an evening in the home, Mr Fox said.

The house was built around 1825 by the Grosvenor family and was until recently the home of the Instituto Cervantes of London, a Spanish cultural centre.

The squatters were due to appear at the Central London County Court in February but the hearing to get them removed from the property was moved up.

The group of 20 (including Tom Fox and Jed Miller, who are pictured) say the homeless are welcome at the Grade II-listed home The group of 20 (including Tom Fox and Jed Miller, who are pictured) say the homeless are welcome at the Grade II-listed home

The group of 20 (including Tom Fox and Jed Miller, who are pictured) say the homeless are welcome at the Grade II-listed home

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